We call this the investment thesis. The investment thesis is no more or less than a definitive statement, based on a clear understanding of how money is made in your business, that outlines how adding this particular business to your portfolio will make your company more valuable. Many of the best acquirers write out their investment theses in black and white. Joe Trustey, managing partner of private equity and venture capital firm Summit Partners, describes the tool in one short sentence: "It tells me why I would want to own this business. Perhaps you're rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, "Well, of course our company uses an investment thesis! For example, our survey of senior executives across all industries revealed that only 29 percent of acquiring executives started out with an investment thesis defined in that survey as a "sound reason for buying a company" that stood the test of time.
One of the essential elements in a venture capital firm is the investment thesis. The thesis can come in many varieties, from broad and loosely defined focuses to a specific vertical and company stage. On the other hand, some investors choose to allocate capital without a core thesis driving their decisions and see success in this strategy. This post will define an investment thesis, why investors decide to develop one, and some tips on creating one. Simply put, the investment thesis is an assumption made about a market, vertical, or trend that will drive the strategy for a particular firm or fund. Just as a startup will assume a problem or market need and build a product around solving that problem, an investor will consider various markets and trends and develop an investment strategy focused on that assumption.
Potential — How big can the startup get? Do they have a chance to become a billion-dollar unicorn? Is their market big enough and can they scale?