Venture Capital Likes Big Markets

This week I was discussing an upcoming capital raise with a founder. The company has pivoted, and its latest product is resonating with prospective B2B customers. These businesses have been searching for a solution to a problem, to no avail. This founder’s solution checks all their boxes. Prospects are converting to customers relatively quickly.

Things are looking good, and the founder wants to raise venture capital. His pitch is coming together, but we talked a lot about one part of it: the market. How many customers exist for his solution? I learned that his “known” market is material but not gigantic and not growing (as far as we could tell). There’s a clear path to building a company with seven-figure annual revenue. Beyond that, not so much.  

Markets matter a lot. It’s hard to build a big business in a small market—there just aren’t enough people willing to pay for the solution. It’s equally as hard in a static or shrinking market because companies grow by taking market share from other businesses—the market is cutthroat (and likely low margin).

Venture investors understand this dynamic and spend lots of time understanding the market a start-up is operating in before they invest. If the market won’t support a large company (now or in the future), the probability of an investment being profitable for the fund goes down drastically. If they can’t see the investment turning a large profit for the fund, they probably won’t invest.

Markets matter, and founders should understand their market and its potential. If a founder can’t articulate why a market will support a large company (or multiple companies) and how their solution will win in that market, they may not be able to raise venture capital.