Common RED flags that all tech startup investors should be wary of
(1) Majority of the founder group doesn't have technical educational background in STEM
Lots of technical knowledge (e.g. machine learning, data science) is very difficult to pick up and it's something that one needs to spend time to absorb over years of structured learning.
(2) Pitch deck contains frequent use of latest buzzwords like "AI", "AI-powered", "ML-enabled", "smart", "big-data driven", and variations/combinations of these words.
We have seen pitch decks that like to put trendy buzzwords everywhere but when we look at the core functionalities of the products, no correlation with the fancy buzzwords can be seen.
(3) Tech founders who have no prior commercial experience.
Same as technical knowledge, commercial acumen takes years to accumulate. We have seen many tech founders who can design good products, pick up few VC books to learn about fund raising, but never be able to formulate a logical commercial plan that can factor in "financial reality".
(4) Key founders have low exit barriers or downside risk.
Basically cannot demonstrate high level of commitment, e.g. have a second job or business, insufficient equity interest in the startup