Startup Checklist

Being investor-ready. Work through my checklist.


Ian H Smith


Here is my Checklist. These are questions I have gathered from the many founders and investors engaged with high-value tech firms that I have worked with over the past four decades in the information technology and plastics industries.

Strategic Intent

Are you building an investment vehicle or lifestyle company?

What is your exit strategy?

Proof of Claims

Do you have one or more early adopter customers?

Can your early adopter customer(s) validate a Return On Investment (ROI) Model for your solution?

Problem Being Solved

What problem are you solving?

Why are you best placed to solve this problem?

Ability to Execute

Is your ability to execute feasible for an unknown small start-up?

Tangible or Intangible Assets

What are your tangible or intangible assets and how do they offset risk for investors?

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

How are you going to effectively compete with established orgnisations and other challengers?

Return on Investment

What is the clear path, timeline and the return for the investors?

Do you have any early adopters, and if so, who are they?

Can you survive on monetising early adopter customers?

When does the company become profitable?

What size will the cash burnrate be until profitability?

What are the quantifiable grants available and when?

Culture and Values

Who are the co-founders of the business and why?

How many hours per week will the co-founders put in to the business?

How will the company conserve cash and get all of its associates to think like owners?

What compensation packages does the company intend to offer co-founders?

Are the incentives of key executives, co-founders and investors aligned?

What essential elements define the company’s culture?

Risk Mitigation

What can go wrong and how will you survive it?

What alternatives are available to the company if a major risk materialises?

Which of these risks could be fatal to the business?

What alliances could help the company mitigate risks?

Sales and Marketing

Do you have an experienced sales and marketing player in your leadership team?

Are you investing in sales coaching?



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