Man shaking his head exacerbated.

Why We Rejected 1,983 Startups

Date Published:
September 12, 2016

The main reasons we won't invest in your startup.

At Blackbird we’ve now seen 2,012 startups since we started in September 2012.

We’ve invested in 29 companies to date — so that’s a hit rate of 1.4%. It also means we’ve said no 1,983 times.

Reflecting back on things, here are the main reasons we say no.

  1. Not global day one. We only invest in Aussies forming businesses that are global from day one. Global means global and day one means day one. We know you can create a successful business lots of ways, this is our passion and how we’ve chosen to invest.
  2. (Never) too early. Nothing is too early and no round too small for us to invest in something we love. We’re happy to make $50k to $1m investments before a product is out in the market. We invested at idea stage in two of the best companies in our portfolio, Canva and Zoox. But there’s a super high bar to convince us we should invest at this stage. So often we’ll ask you to come back when you have your first product released and in the hands of some users — we might fall in love then.
  3. Seen it before. Not much to add here, except an aside: it’s funny how often those most worried about sharing their idea are the least original.
  4. Lack of ambition. We’ll only back things we think can be really big. We’re looking for businesses that can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the next ten years or so.
  5. Unfounded ambition. The opposite extreme. The crazy assertion that you’ll have a billion users in six months, with no foundation for the assertion.
  6. Founders. So we just don’t get inspired by the team. This is a tough one, and we do sometimes emphasise other reasons for saying no. It’s tough to tell someone they are the problem, but often it’s the best thing to do.
  7. We just don’t love the problem/solution. After everything else we need to fall in love with the complete package: the team, the problem, the solution, the market, the metrics and everything else. If we don’t love it there’s not much we can do.

And then every now and again we get to say yes. That’s the fun part.