An Intro to Your Phantom Advisor

Jason Yeh
January 9, 2024

 You all know what an advisor is. It’s a trusted third party that gives you the right advice to avoid mistakes, nudges you toward optimal strategies, lifts you up when you need support, etc. Having great advisors can be a godsend when handling situations you've never encountered and figuring out your company's next step.

The value of advisors stands out in many situations for a startup, but particularly within fundraising. An advisor with a background in venture capital or in raising capital can set you up for success and help you avoid the dumb mistakes that doom many fundraises from the beginning.

Makes sense right? Of course. But there’s a problem…

Not everyone has access to friends who are venture-backed founders. Not many people are blessed to have the sister-in-law who happens to be a VC. The challenge is that most founders sit outside the circles that give easy access to these valuable founders.  

This is why I’m so excited to introduce you to an advisor everyone has access to - the phantom advisor 👻.

The Phantom Advisor

A Phantom Advisor is a figure who may or may not exist physically but is always there in your corner, guiding and safeguarding your interests.

This person could be someone you've never met but whose wisdom you've absorbed through podcasts, newsletters or blog posts over the years. If you think I’m talking about me… not necessarily. But it could be!

If you’re confused, keep reading…

When and how to Leverage the Phantom Advisor

You still don’t get how this works. I get it.  Here are some examples that will make more sense…

Example 1:

If a VC asks you for something you feel unsure about, this is a great opportunity to conjure your Phantom Advisor. Instead of asserting directly, "I don't want to do that," or "I don’t think that’s correct," and possibly causing unneeded tension, you can reply, "One of my advisors encouraged me to avoid doing this, do you mind if I double-check?”

Example 2:

If an investor asks, "Who else is looking at this deal right now?" instead of replying, "I don't want to tell you," which might be perceived negatively, you can deflect by saying, "One of my advisors cautioned me about discussing this openly, I’d rather hold off on sharing right now - hope you understand."

The Phantom Advisor's Got Your Back

You’re likely to encounter many interactions while fundraising where you want to push back against an investor but don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself. I love the phantom advisor for all situations like this. 

But look, it’s also possible that your instincts are wrong and the “advice” you mention you got from an advisor is bad. Honestly, it doesn’t matter! In these cases, the Phantom Advisor effectively becomes a buffer to your faulty instincts.

Because it's not YOU who said it, it’s something your phantom advisor told you to do, the worst that can happen is the investor says you got poor advice. From there, you get to say "Huh. Ok… let me double-check on that advice and get back to you.” (stupid phantom advisor!)

Whether it’s to speak up for you or to take a bullet for your dumb ideas, your phantom advisor’s got your back.


Think of someone (real or made-up) who can act as your phantom advisorReference your phantom advisor to tactfully handle situations where you’re unsure, need to push back, or want to avoid direct confrontationIf all else fails or you can't think off an imaginary friend🤣, you’re welcome to use me as your Phantom Advisor

Be chased,

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