October 16, 2022

Investor Herd Dynamics

A summary of one of our favourite blog posts from Paul Graham

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Paul Graham is an American computer scientist, essayist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author. He is best known for his work on the programming language Lisp, his former startup Viaweb, cofounding the influential startup accelerator and seed capital firm Y Combinator, his essays, and Hacker News. Discover a few of the most essential points below.

The Importance of Other Investors' Opinions

Graham asserts that a startup's ability to attract one investor often creates a snowball effect, with other investors becoming interested as well. This dynamic can lead to a "hot deal" – an overwhelming level of interest from investors. However, it's essential to note that creating a fundraising stampede is not the ultimate goal, and the correlation between stampedes and startup success is not strong.

Reasons Behind Herd Dynamics

  1. Reduced risk: When a startup raises money, the risk of failure decreases, making it a more attractive investment.
  2. Increased confidence: Success in fundraising boosts founders' confidence, which investors can sense and find appealing.
  3. Difficulty in judging startups: Many investors struggle to accurately judge startups, leading them to rely on the opinions of others.

The Influence of Early Offers

Graham explains that the best investors don't rely on other investors' opinions but can be indirectly influenced by them. Interest from other investors imposes a deadline, pushing firms to make up their minds faster to avoid losing the deal.

Navigating Investor Negotiations

Founders should be cautious about exaggerating their startup's level of interest from investors to push for a decision. Transparency and honesty are essential, but founders should not disclose the identities of other potential investors when discussing deals.

Breaking Through Initial Resistance

Startups often experience initial resistance due to herd mentality. Founders should not be discouraged by the difficulty of securing the first commitment, as subsequent commitments tend to come more easily.

Understanding investor herd dynamics can help founders navigate the complex world of fundraising and better manage their interactions with potential investors.

You can read the full article here: http://www.paulgraham.com/early.html