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Could it hurt a startup’s chances at investment if the projections are too conservative?

Everybody looks for ambition, persuasion and lofty goals. But you don’t want to say, "Here's our $10B market and we will be worth $500M in the first two years." That’s not going to happen unless you have a track record of building. There are always people who bring in different thought leaders and executives for their advisory board or board of directors, and that increases their chance of success. Then you can make some bigger claims because you can say, “I'm getting this person from Andresen and Horowitz to advise me on the healthcare sector,” or, “I'm getting one of the co-founders of Sequoia Capital on my board.” That obviously opens a door for you, but 99.9% of startups won't have such influential people on the board, so how do you set realistic expectations? It doesn't mean that you won’t have lofty goals, but don't go for 100X when realistically 1X is what you're going to gain — go for 10X. It’s about finding that balance because it's an art, not a science. You learn as you go that if you over promise, they're going to ignore you. If you under promise, they think you're too conservative.

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Everybody looks for ambition, persuasion and lofty goals. But you don’t want to say, "Here's our $10B market and we will be worth $500M in the first two years." That’s not going to happen unless you have a track record of building. There are always people who bring in different thought leaders and executives for their advisory board or board of directors, and that increases their chance of success. Then you can make some bigger claims because you can say, “I'm getting this person from Andresen and Horowitz to advise me on the healthcare sector,” or, “I'm getting one of the co-founders of Sequoia Capital on my board.” That obviously opens a door for you, but 99.9% of startups won't have such influential people on the board, so how do you set realistic expectations? It doesn't mean that you won’t have lofty goals, but don't go for 100X when realistically 1X is what you're going to gain — go for 10X. It’s about finding that balance because it's an art, not a science. You learn as you go that if you over promise, they're going to ignore you. If you under promise, they think you're too conservative.
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