Please stop trying to raise money: TK Kuegler - Baltimore


Aug. 27, 2014 12:30 pm

Please stop trying to raise money: TK Kuegler

In his semi-regular column, the managing partner of Wasabi Ventures shares some tough love — and three tips — on the sorry state of startup pitches.

Your startup pitch probably sucks. Here's how to make it better.

(Photo by Flickr user Kim Valmer, used under a Creative Commons license)

This past week I sat through five pitches from startups in the Baltimore area. Universally, I had the same feedback to all of the startup founders: “Stop trying to raise money.”

Sadly, this is the feedback I give more often than not to the early-stage founders who pitch us at Wasabi Ventures. I always try to explain my feedback to folks who pitch me in the hopes that, maybe in a small way, I can impact the overall startup ecosystem by making founders stronger.

While every situation is unique, I thought it might be useful to explain why I so often give this feedback.

Here are the three big reasons I say this repeatedly:

  1. The team is not the right mix of people. Putting together a founding team is really hard. It is a struggle to get people you like, which like you, and are committed to winning. Getting all of that accomplished with limited resources and limited traction and a sketchy product is even more difficult. But as an early-stage investor, nothing is more important to us than the team. It is why Wasabi Ventures has the model it has. We know that helping a founder get through the earliest stages with resources and an experienced team to make it happen is key.
  2. The startup is not ready to use the money. Nothing is crazier than listening to the pitch of a startup and when you ask them where they will be after they get the money and you get back a fuzzy answer. I usually lose my mind if a startup can’t tell me where getting the cash infusion will move the business, or worse is when they tell me the progress they will make and I don’t believe them at all. If you are raising money, you should have a distinct, believable plan of where you would spend every dime.
  3. The dreams are not big enough. Building a startup that is trying to raise money is broadcasting to the world that you are ready to build a $100-million company and you have a path to get there. Sadly, all too often the founders I hear pitches from are not on that kind of disruptive path. They are not dreaming the big dream or solving a big enough problem. Always remember that raising money is like telling the investors that you, as a founder, are going to make them richer than they already are. So to do that you have to dream big.

In the startup world, we put way too much focus on the fundraising adventure. I have written about this fact countless times over the years. But there are times that you should be raising investment capital; just make sure you’re doing it at the right time and for the right reasons and not just because it is the next step in the process.


Organizations: Wasabi Ventures
People: Tom Kuegler


Personal Genome Diagnostics closes $75M Series B, plans second Baltimore office

Camden Partners’ early-stage venture fund makes final close

Maryland startup gets investment from the intelligence community’s investment firm



How Think|Stack and Year Up are cultivating local tech talent



Front-End Developer

Apply Now
8 Market Pl, Suite #402, Baltimore, MD, 21202


Development Support Engineer

Apply Now
8 Market Pl, Suite #402, Baltimore, MD, 21204

Parabal Inc.

Enterprise Mobility Engineer

Apply Now

Support big thinkers and risk-takers, not just HQ2

Silicon Valley–based, cybersecurity-focused investment firm opens Maryland office

TechBUZZ: The next chance to meet lots of early-stage founders in one place



Let these free workshops help your business really take off



Sales Representative

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA - Old City

Workarea by WebLinc

Sales Account Executive – eCommerce Software

Apply Now

University City District

Data Scientist

Apply Now

Sign-up for regular updates from

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!