How a VC Scrutinizes Your Website: 5 Things They Look For

June 5, 2014

What VCs Look for on Your Website | OpenView Blog
For many visitors, your website provides that all-important initial introduction to your company’s mission, team, product, and brand. With any luck, many of those visitors will be future prospects and customers, but have you ever stopped to consider your site is how potential investors get their first glimpse of what you’re all about, too? What do they see when they visit your website? What type of first impression is it giving?
My job here at OpenView is to help identify potential investment prospects, and I’ll be the first to admit that not only does my first visit to a company’s website play a role in my assessment of it — in fact, it can have a major impact. With that in mind, I wanted to share five things I’m looking for when I visit a company’s website. When done well, these things can really grab my attention and help a business stand out.

5 Examples of What VCs Look for on Your Website

1) Good UI: Is it a Clean, Responsive Site?

Right away, one of the clearest indicators that a company is conscious of and has a nice handle on its web presence is a nice sleek and modern site. For prospective investors, a responsive site is also an indicator of a company with an understanding of progressive web development practices.
Recently, the popularity of responsive websites has exploded as more and more companies recognize the need to provide users an optimal viewing experience across multiple platforms and devices. So generally speaking, if your site isn’t responsive, you’re behind the curve.

2) Good Logos and Testimonials

It’s important to celebrate the victories and take pride in the customers you’ve most likely spent countless hours and sales cycles to acquire. Investors will often be looking for a few marquee customers listed or perhaps larger brands that are traditionally harder to sell to as validation of the product.
Of course, for early-stage startups this may be more difficult depending on the number of active customers you actually have. That’s why it’s crucial when selling to early adopters to push for approval to use their logo on your site, as having a few big logos can speak volumes to early traction in the marketplace. Also, displaying some candid quotes from customers goes a long way.

3) An Impressive Management Team

Naturally, another big attraction to any investor is the management team and their backgrounds. Making their profiles easy to access as well as clean and professional is key. Do include photos, as well. Being able to quickly put a face to the names as to who’s calling the shots is extremely helpful, and it exemplifies confidence in a team built for success. Seeing successful track records also underscores your ability to attract top talent.

4) Relevant and Recent Content

Good, relevant content is key to any inbound marketing efforts. Offering a great product is one thing, but sharing engaging marketing content such as explainer videos, assessments, guides, and tools can show that you know how to drive awareness and interaction with it and your brand. Compelling thought leadership pieces can also help to position your company and management team in the eyes of investors as true leaders in your space.
On the other hand, one of the biggest turnoffs for an investor is outdated or irrelevant content, so be careful what you choose to highlight and keep things up-to-date.
Featuring press, news, and other media hype is always a good idea, but it should be recent and come from an unbiased and respected outlet. It’s important to highlight recognition from media and peers, but these efforts could backfire if coming from an unqualified source

5) Clear and Concise Messaging

Within the first few seconds of visiting your homepage, I should have a good idea of exactly what you do. That means your messaging needs to be clear, concise, and firmly aligned with your company’s overall mission. Avoid getting too technical or (on the other side of the spectrum) getting too salesy. Buzzwords can be distracting for visitors and even take away from your legitimacy or the true value or pain point that you’re solving. When in doubt, keep it simple.

3 Examples of Great Company Websites

Here are three sites that showcase each of the five qualities above and make a terrific first impression:
Sift Science
Sift Science
Monetate (disclosure: an OpenView Portfolio Company)
If your website passes the test, you could receive a phone call from an interested VC. Do you know how you’ll respond? Read my previous post, Two Questions You Absolutely Have to Ask When VCs Come Calling.
Image courtesy of Rafael Anderson Gonazales Mendoza

Partner Manager

Matt is a Partner Manager at <a href="">Datadog</a>. He was previously an Analyst on OpenView's investment team.