You shall not pass :o

How to make it extra-hard for you to get funded

VC money is not for everyone.

It finances a tiny tiny number of companies and there are tons of other way to build a successful business, even in tech (billion € success stories Vente-privée and Free never took any money from VCs).

If, however, you’re convinced it’s the right way to go for you, here is a list of the factors that will make it extra-hard for you to get funded.

You will find below a check list. Every criteria on this list has to be met for vanilla VCs (some corporate VCs or patent-oriented VC might have different criteria) to consider your funding round. The spirit of this list is to provide a “minimum framework to not raise a veto”. Meaning that any of the bullet points can lead to a straight “no” or raise serious doubt and therefore make it harder for you to get funded.

Happy to discuss it in the comments


  • founders must own a substantial part of the capital (ideally ~100% at seed, >50% at Series A)
  • no passive founder still in the cap table with major share
  • no industrial player with major share
  • nothing too weird (previous company of founder owns 10% of the company, partner of VC fund who has invested in competitor as business angel, the whole family of the founder is in the cap table for some reason… )
  • no “grey/pink/gambling” topics
  • no biotech ( → go see biotech VCs)
  • nothing too close to current portfolio companies (competitors / future competitors)
  • nothing on a declining market (extreme examples: Minitel service, Cobol framework, Taxi-related app…)
  • no service company (digital agency, …), only scalable models (=startup)
  • nothing too local, at least national ambition, ideally international ambition and replicability
  • 5 founders tops (2–3 is best)
  • fluent in english/french (depends on the scope of the company)
  • 100% dedicated to the company’s success (no substantial side business)
  • agree to hypothetically sell the company in five years
  • no conflict between founders
  • reasonable remuneration so far
  • no criminal record
  • nothing curious in audited reports (although we only check that at the end, it will give the process a definitive stop)
  • no significant trial in progress / no significant liability
  • IP owned by the company
  • enough cash for ~6 months (fund raising process duration)
  • company located in Europe/US/Israel (usual for european VCs — some can have more specific geographic criteria)
  • no 50-pages Word memo as executive summary. We’re happy with a 10 slides presentation and/or a two-pager attached to your intro email :-)
  • no 90s Powerpoint —we have low expectations on the form of the pitch documents, but there is a threshold beyond which we just won’t read it
Source :

Hope this was helpful :-)


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About Serena Capital
Leading European Venture Capital Fund with 250M€ under management, dedicated to support great innovative startups.

At Serena Capital, we are early-growth investors, investing in European companies which have proven business models and the capacity to grow quickly and become market leaders.

Our investment range goes from €3 million to €15 million with a focus on a variety of technology sectors including internet and media, big data, software, telecom and mobile, consumer electronics, IT services.

Serena I portfolio companies :
Augure, Aramis Auto, Bonita Soft, Coach Club, Groupe Arlety, La Fourchette (sold to Tripadvisor), Melty, Prestashop, Prixtel, Sequans (NYSE : SQNS), Santé Vet, Selectron, RSI Video Technologies, Worldstores
Serena II portfolio companies :
Work4, FinalCAD, Qualtera, Dataiku, TextMaster, Habiteo, Cheerz, Lengow, Evaneos, Icontainers

Find out more about us at

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