“All we need is a lead for the round”
Axel Bichara

I’ve had the privilege of working with entrepreneurs for my entire career. In pitch meetings and board meetings at Bolt, we often hear familiar statements that trigger a “pattern-matching algorithm” that tells us what’s really going on. In this blog series, I’ll share some examples, to help entrepreneurs who are on their journey to creating highly valuable companies learn from our experiences here at Bolt.


“Our fundraising is going very well. We have more than $2M committed from three strong investors. All we need is a lead for the round.”

This quote is a strong indication that fundraising is NOT going so well.

The entrepreneur has spent a lot of time with investors (otherwise, there wouldn’t be multiple investors interested), but nobody has stepped forward to lead the round. These investors are likely to be much less committed than the founder thinks they are.

What’s really going on?

This type of statement typically means one of two things:

  1. This entrepreneur is focused on investors who don’t lead. That’s a mistake and reflects poorly.
  2. More likely, the entrepreneur spoke with a number of good investors, but they don’t like the pitch enough to lead the funding round.

In my experience, entrepreneurs spend much of their time on fundraising but are often not focused enough.

To get a round of funding to converge, all that matters is to find a credible lead investor. Once you have a lead investor, everything else falls into place.

If you are having trouble finding a lead investor, don’t over-shop your company. Step back and review your pitch and fundraising strategy. Then start again with a laser focus on VCs who may be a viable lead.

With a lead in place, it’s a much smoother process to complete your round. Most investors don’t have a lead mentality and prefer to follow others. You will want to speak with them later in the process.

A better approach

“We’re early in the fundraising process, and we have some interest. Our focus is on finding a lead investor who buys into our vision, with whom we are excited to work.”

Axel is an experienced entrepreneur and venture capitalist. From 1993 to 2012, Axel was a partner with Atlas Venture, managing over $2.6 billion of investment capital through seven funds. Besides venture capital Axel has been active in the CAD industry, as co-founder of Premise and Onshape, founding investor at SolidWorks and early investor at GrabCAD and Simscale. You can find Axel on LinkedIn.

Bolt invests at the intersection of the digital and physical world.