Close Form

Written By: Marc Halpin



2024 marks my 20th year involved in the venture capital industry. Back in 2004 I was on the founder side and raised a $10M round (alongside my co-founders) for my London based company. Today and well over $150M in raised capital later I find myself ‘Connecting Great Founders with Great Investors’ here at Kerosene.


So, what’s changed in 20 years? Well, the amount of capital being deployed for one thing. Back in 2004 only $15B was invested into U.S. startups compared with over $170B last year. That’s right, for all the ups and downs in the venture markets of the last five years there is significantly more capital available for tech founders today then there was 20 years ago.


One thing which hasn’t changed in my opinion is the key characteristics of those founders that can raise capital. At Kerosene we’ve had the privilege of engaging with 100’s of companies raising their Seed & A Rounds and 100’s of VC’s deploying capital.


Business models, capital efficiency, size of market, traction, customer concentration… the list goes on and on in terms of investment considerations as startups are evaluated. But if the adage that jockeys (founders) are more important than horses (startups) in raising capital then founder characteristics should be worth noting right?


Here are the five most compelling characteristics of ‘fundable’ Founders that I have seen over the last 20 years.


1)    They convey an exciting vision.

Whether it be raising capital or hiring their first employee fundable founders have an innate ability to describe a big vision for the company that they are building. They are unashamedly ambitious and believable. Whether we like it or not venture firms are looking for very ambitious founders on the way to building huge companies. Humility has its place but probably not here!


2)    They are tenacious.

Fundable founders hit their deliverables month by month, quarter on quarter and investors see it. In fact, they look for it. It is so compelling to witness a founder consistently hit their plan. Goals in concrete, plans in sand.


3)    They are ‘all in’.

It may be controversial, but it’s just an observation. The most successful funded founders spend an enormous amount of time executing, thinking, living and breathing their business. Work life balance is not really a thing, but they are happy living the business every day in every way.


4)    They are good with numbers.

It’s a business after all. Fundable founders can communicate budgets, performance, P&L and cashflow performance. It’s quite telling to see a great data room built by a numbers-driven founder and one that’s not.


5)    They are good with people.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of times I’ve asked an investor for feedback on a potential investment and the first thing they say is “I love that guy (or girl)” or the opposite “I just didn’t feel it”. Without doubt people do business with people. Companies do not do business with companies. A Founder that can connect with an investor is critical in fundraising.


There’s a special list of people I know who check these boxes and I promise you their ability to raise venture capital was (and is) never in doubt.



Kerosene Ventures: Connecting Great Founders with Great Investors