Founders: 10 ways to get a VC to hate you

Yrjö Ojasaar
4 min readMar 17, 2023

If you are getting too much VC attention — here is the solution!

Just put these true and tested methods to work for you. One or two of these may be enough, but use at least three, and I guarantee the VC will not invest in your startup.

1. Cold email the VC

The way to make a bad first impression is to cold email the VC. Best first lines: “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom it may concern.” VCs will definitely not be concerned about deleting these emails.

For advanced users: Go for the trifecta - ask an American growth VC focusing on MedTech to invest in your pre-seed, new-internet startup in Pakistan.

2. If you get a meeting, do not send a calendar invite

If for some reason #1 did not work to alienate the VC and they are willing to have a Zoom call, make sure you do not send a calendar invite.

For advanced users: delegate the calendar invite to the VC and expect them to create the zoom call link and invite — you are not the VCs secretary and this will show them who is boss!

3. Insist on the VC signing an NDA before the pitch

A way to build a relationship of trust, is to insist that your idea is so incredibly valuable that the VC will retire and do it himself or sell it on ebay to someone else.

For advanced users: Demand for the VC to supply the NDA form.

4. Demand to do your pitch verbatim from slides

You paid so much money for the slide design that you better use all of them. Make sure you don't go on tangents or take the bait with VCs trying to have a conversation — follow the memorized script and use every slide (pause for applause as appropriate).

For advanced users: Request that the VC hold all questions until the end

5. Belittle and dismiss all competition

Make sure the VC understands that your startup idea is such a beautiful unique snowflake that there is no competition. Dismiss all direct and indirect competition by saying “they just don't get it.”

For advanced users: If your insistance that your startup is clearly “cheaper” and “easier to use” does not impress the VC — drop the hammer — tell the VC that your solution is clearly unmatched because its the only one with “dark mode.”

6. Publicize your first Term Sheet details to all the investors you know

To build FOMO and spark a bidding war between VCs, tell all the VCs you meet about the valuation and terms you received in your first Term Sheet. Bank on the fact that VCs dont want to sue startups, so the confidentiality clauses are just a “suggestion.”

For advanced users: If a VC protests — tell them that they should have already learned in business school that you never take the first offer you receive.

7. Tell the VC that if they invest you will probably start working full-time

If a VC asks about your commitment to the startup, say that while this startup is a hobby right now, you would consider leaving your full time job if they make it worth while for you.

For advanced users: Ensure that the VC is willing to comp the company car, offer a 6 month paid sabbatical, and in-house massages and yoga pros.

8. Hold out for long vacations and a generous severance package

When negotiating the content of the Term Sheet and Investment Agreement be sure to insist on top salary, 4 day work week, remote work, at least 30 days paid vacation, and generous severance package in case you get tires of the startup lifestyle. VCs should understand that you got out of the corporate rat race for a reason — you need to your authentic self with more free time and a less stressful work environment.

For advanced users: Refuse to accept a vesting schedule, arguing that you would never leave the company, and if you did you would take the IP anyway, so no vesting schedule would ever protect them.

9. Insist on the VC matching the valuation that you saw on TechCrunch

Just like Ronaldo and Messi you know your value, so if someone somewhere has gotten a higher valuation — you will just not play!

For advanced users: If the VC refuses to pay top price — challenge their professionalism — “its called risk-capital for a reason” and tell them they are a pessimist with no “vision.”

10. Share your vision of the fast exit

Since the VC talked about their value add — put it to the test — tell them that you need a good tax planner since you really would like to quickly exit this startup next year to pursue your true passion of sailing in the Bahamas.

For advanced users: Talk about your experience as a serial entrepreneur, and how easy it is to start a copy-cat business with the previous company’s client list and slightly tweaked code.