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Written By: Janine Kick


Tis the season to be jolly! If you’re reading this, you’re likely thinking about raising capital or actively raising capital and let’s be real – it doesn’t always feel like the most magical season of the year! You’re meeting lots of investors, you’re working at all hours, and you can’t always make sense of where you stand. Are you making progress in their process? Or are they giving you the ‘slow no’? It’s not always easy to tell… 

Let’s figure out who’s been naughty and nice this year! 

If you hear… 

  • Crickets. You don’t get a follow up, you haven’t had any diligence requests and you haven’t heard back… You’re on the naughty list. That said, we have to be reasonable here. Don’t immediately expect an instantaneous response. And if you have shared diligence materials it may take some time before you hear back. 


  • “Are you good for another 15 minutes?” You’ve made it to the nice list this year! If an investor is spending more time with you than scheduled and your meeting is running over, that’s a very good sign. They’re intrigued and want to learn more about you and what you’ve built. If they’re leaning in and asking some tough questions, that’s an even better sign. The more difficult the questions, the more interest. 


  • “I really like you, I’ll make some introductions.” Naughty list. While this may sound positive, what an investor is really saying is “not a fit for us”. I’d definitely recommend taking the investor up on the warm intro – you never know where you’ll find your lead!


  • Investor Personal Passion. You meet an investor who is particularly passionate about the problem you’re solving. One more for the nice list. If an investor is excited about the problem you’re addressing or can personally relate to the issue at hand this is a great sign. There’s no better champion than someone who has experienced and faced the same problem first hand. 


  • “Can you send me a few references?” Holding strong on the nice list. This is a very good sign and a key indicator that an investor has moved you into the diligence phase of their process. 


  • “You’re too early for us.” We’ve slipped back onto the naughty list. If you’re fundraising I can guarantee you’re going to hear this from investors more than once! When an investor tells you you’re too early, thank them for the feedback and ask them outside of being too early is there anything else that concerns you about the opportunity? You may get some good feedback at this point. Don’t settle for “too early”!


  • “I’d like for you to meet my Partner.” Back on the nice list and hopefully for the long haul. The more people you meet within a fund the further along you are in their process and that means the closer you are to a term sheet. 


  • You feel like you’re being interrogated! Surprisingly, if you’re being asked some really tough questions, you’re on the good list! If an investor is pushing you on your go to market strategy, team capability or anything for that matter. It’s likely an early sign of interest! 

Where do you find yourself this year? Did you make it to the nice list? See the following important educational video of how NOT to react if you find yourself on the naughty list. Remember it’s just business!


Kerosene Ventures – Helping Great Founders Raise Capital