Checklist for startups: Which 80 questions do investors (and Scale Incubator) ask?

Do you want to be prepared for the meeting with investors? So make sure you keep track of the questions below. Be sharp in your numbers and keep track of the details, that way you can both catch the investor’s attention, but also impress him.

Table of Contents

We have collected the questions that we ask ourselves. The questions the investors have asked us we have met and what their investors have asked our network. The list is not exhaustive or perfect, but it does give a good indication of what to expect as a founder and capital seeker.

The level is both high and low, but it shows how much you get around in the dialogue with investors. But it is also a close bond you get if you first go together as a founder and investor. If you have answers for the below-mentioned investor questions you will be more prepared once we talk with venture capitalists, angel investors, incubators like ours or anyone in between.

Investor questions on a business meeting in lobby
Some of the questions could be answered in the pitch deck you send before the meeting.

Questions investors ask about the company and the idea

It is important to have put into words the considerations behind the company: How sustainable the idea is and what visions there are for the future. It is fundamental to the remainder of the questions that one has control over one’s argumentation and movement backgrounds for the answers.

The questions are often:

  • Why did you start this project?
  • How did the idea come to the world?
  • What is the goal of product?
  • What are the benefits of your product?
  • How are the responsibilities distributed?
  • What problem does the product solve?
  • How big can the company become?
  • Do you have an office?
  • What is your business plan?

Questions investors ask about the competition

The questions will define whether you stand out enough from your competitors or whether you are just the same. Be sure to describe why you are different and better than them – But also respect that they may have some benefits and experience that you do not have at this stage. Do your due diligence and be prepared for questions regarding your competition.

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What is the difference between your product and your competitors’?
  • What are the key differentiated features of your product compared to your competition?
  • What are your advantages and disadvantages compared to the competition?
  • How well do you know your competitors?
  • Why have your competitors not done this yet?
  • Where are your competitors leaving customers right now?
  • Do you have any financial figures for your competitors?

Questions investors ask about the market

The market often defines the potential – be sure, to be honest about the size of the market and back it up with data. Make sure you describe the market in-depth and put into words what variables come into play concerning the availability and why you can achieve the part of the market you describe.

  • What is the market for your product?
  • How big is the market? How big can the market become?
  • How big a market share can you get?
  • How long does it take to get the mentioned market shares?
  • Why should the market accept your product and not the competitors’?
  • How did you arrive at the numbers? 
  • Why is the market ready for your product right now?

Questions investors ask about the strategy and traction

It is important to explain how to reach goals with your milestones – What is the strategy needed to succeed, what is your go-to-market plan, and how should this be executed?

  • How do you want to achieve growth?
  • What is your marketing and sales strategy?
  • What marketing channels are you using now?
  • What marketing channels will you use in the future?
  • Who is the ideal customer?
  • How did you calculate your numbers?
  • How much feedback have you received so far? What have you changed based on that feedback?
  • What is the monthly growth (measured a quarter back)?
  • What is the total growth MoM (month to month) from start to finish?
  • How did you create this growth? And why is it the way it is?
  • What does your roadmap look like for the next 6, 12 and 36 months?
  • Do you have major product milestones?
  • Can I get in touch with 5 customers who have used your product and hear what they think?
  • Could you scale faster with more money?

Questions investors ask about the economy

The hardest point, but also the point where you can always impress – make sure you know all your numbers by heart. Being razor-sharp in this area is crucial. You’ve definitely seen Shark Tank / Løvens Hule and seen how people have been driven around when it comes to finances.

  • How many customers do you have now? And what have you gained from these customers?
  • How long are the customers there? And what do you earn on them on average after spending?
  • Get paid and how much?
  • What do you spend money on in the company?
  • What is the burn rate at present?
  • Where does a customer cost you?
  • What is the lifetime value of the customer?
  • Has funding been obtained before? And how much?
  • If yes in the above, where does the money come from?
  • What have you used to get the project started?
  • When will you be profitable?

Questions investors ask about the investment

Why is it really that we need to invest? You need to have a clear plan for what the money will be used for, what you get out of the investment and justify that it is actually worth it. Be very sharp on these points – After all, it’s others’ time and money you ask for.

  • What is money to be used for?
  • When will the investor make money on the investment?
  • How to find out if the investment has been good – How will you measure this?
  • What is the biggest risk if we invest?
  • What is the value we invest in?
  • How did you come to this value of the company?
  • Why do you choose this method of raising capital?
  • What is the return on investment?
  • Do you need additional funding or are you self-financed afterwards?
  • What do you want from an investor? Labor, networking and access to resources, etc.?
  • How much of the investment should be spent on salaries for you?

Questions investors ask about the team

Every investor is interested in who you are, your background, and why you actually do what you do. So it often requires that you get to know the team behind the company – It is therefore very natural that you are asked several questions of a more personal nature. You have to be ready for that, and it has to come naturally; after all, the team behind the company is most important for the project to succeed.

  • Tell about yourself and the most important employees
  • How dedicated are you to the company? Full time Part time? Reasons behind this?
  • What are your personal goals and what motivates you?
  • Who do you strive to be like? And who will you at least be like?
  • What is your background (both professionally and personally)?
  • What did you succeed in?
  • What did you do wrong?
  • What do you bring to the table of labor, knowledge, etc.?
  • What type of employees do you lack in the short and long term?
  • Is there an advisory board or board?
  • Who are your advisors? And who do you have in your network that benefits the business?
  • Are there any previous founders who are no longer part of the project?
  • Who believes in your idea? And how do we get in touch with them?

Want to learn more what makes a startup successful? Check out our article on 37 criteria for a startup to be successful.

If you have any questions about any of the points or think that some points are missing, you are welcome to say hello on Linkedin, where you can find my profile here.

Mike Vestergaard

Mike Vestergaard

Serial Entrepreneur. CEO of DIGURA and NewDeal Invest. Has a huge obsession with podcasts and books. He recommends you should read "The 100% Startup" and listen to "My first million".

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