The Slippery Slope of the Venture Capital Startup Growth Trap

Four ways to make sure you’re not just throwing money at growth to see what sticks

Joe Procopio
4 min readNov 26, 2021
image by dooder on freepik

Here’s a move out of the venture capital playbook that tends to punch entrepreneurs in the gut.

Investors give your startup a bunch of money to scale, they expect you to hire seasoned people for critical roles, then they start asking why your burn rate is so high.

The next thing that happens is a strongly implied suggestion to “trim the fat.” Then things get dark while you figure out how to cut people without killing both productivity and morale, which — spoiler alert — you can’t.

Then all the up-and-to-the-right charts go down-and-to-the-right for a little while. Then the investors ask what happened to all that money they gave you.

I’ve seen this happen over and over again, and I’ve actually been caught in the trap myself. I’ve learned that this is all pretty much the startup’s fault, and I’ll explain why and how to sidestep it.

Investors want lean teams

Venture capital investors love lean teams the same way little kids love birthdays and love cake — so they go apeshit over birthday cake.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at