As a founder, I noticed that our strongest team members shared certain characteristics. From that point on, I looked for those traits when hiring. I was hoping to find more rock stars. Many investors do something similar. Their successful investments may have things in common; if so they look for those traits—which could predict success—in future investments.
Early-stage founders should look for patterns too—especially when they get feedback from professional pattern matchers. Feedback from investors is super useful to a founder, even when it doesn’t result in an investment. You’re likely to hear way more noes than yesses if you’re fundraising, and the noes are a great opportunity to pattern match. After all, investors see tons of companies and have a good sense of what it takes to succeed. Founders should ask for the why behind every no. Individually, it may seem like an investor doesn’t “get it,” but collectively founders may see a pattern emerge and learn that the opposite is true: they themselves are the ones who don’t get it, have a serious blind spot, or have a gap in an area critical to the business.
No, pattern matching isn’t perfect; everyone can be wrong. However, it can be a great way to understand what risks outsiders see in the business. At a minimum, founders can address these risks in future conversations with investors, which will demonstrate that they’re self-aware and have their finger on the pulse of the business.