On Making Your Startup Inevitable
By Eric Paley
VCs get excited about products and markets. Founder stories certainly move the dial. Big picture: investors want to back startups that feel *inevitable.* More than any fact, they’re swayed by this feeling.
Think about the arc of electric cars. A decade ago, an all-electric auto fleet seemed fantastical. Today, it’s not hard to imagine gas stations going the way of Blockbuster. How did that happen?
Widespread electric automobiles now seem obvious, but that wasn’t always true. Elon Musk’s genius was painting a picture that felt inevitable before it was obvious.
Your job as a founder is to paint this sense of inevitability using whatever resources you have. How do you cultivate this perception of predestination?
The first goal is to offer a shared understanding of the opportunity. Many deals die because a VC just “doesn’t get it.” Changing minds is hard. The more unusual or forward-looking your vision is, the harder you’ll need to work to create a believable context.
This usually means starting your story from a position of shared facts. You need to get the investor nodding along. You can then build a fact pattern for your vision that deviates from the baseline.
Hold back the most contentious points in your pitch until you have an agreement on crucial underpinnings. Back up the most contentious parts with data that contradicts the common cynical critiques of your vision. Evidence makes it hard to argue theory. Keep them nodding.
After establishing an inevitable market narrative, you must make clear how *your* solution is the logical next step on this particular arc of history. The story needs to shift from agreement on how the market will evolve to why you’re the one that will make it happen.
It is extremely helpful if your personal story fits into the grand narrative you’re creating. For instance, the overall pitch will be more persuasive if you have a reputation as an early adopter or have spent time in the industry you seek to disrupt.
If you’re an outsider, explain how that POV is counter-intuitively advantageous. Show that your experience in another field is transferable to this new industry. Wherever possible, use evidence. Remember, VCs want to back inevitability, not aspirations.
When you genuinely seem to have an understanding of the customer and true secrets about how you win the market this feeling deepens. Success seems more likely when you demonstrate you’re a magnet for obviously impressive talent.
A sense of inevitability is enhanced when you have thoughtful answers to hard questions. More so if you seem *eager* to talk about the biggest challenges you face. The genuine confidence that a founder brings to the table is equally important and can be contagious.
A sense of inevitably is partly a matter of logic. The numbers need to make sense and the trends need to be heading in the right direction. But it’s more than that, it’s a feeling well supported by those elements.
To summarize, your pitch will seem inevitable if you can:
✅ Frame a narrative that makes a market shift feel inevitable
✅ Produce data to support the counter-intuitive part of your thesis
✅ Demonstrate that you’re the person destined to make that change happen.