What is Back of the Napkin VC?

What was the last idea you wrote on the back of a napkin?

I bet it was a good one. The ideas that find their way onto the back of a napkin in a dim bar or an airy café are some of the most exciting and enlightening of breakthroughs. A grand vision is smartly condensed to a clear, simple, and persuasive scribble.

Back of the Napkin VC is on a mission to identify and amplify those ideas.

This site is a way to learn in public, while developing a useful framework to evaluate, strategize, and communicate about startups, business, and technology.

We use a few simple models to cut through noise, distill complexities into fundamentals, explore new ideas, and put otherwise isolated instances into context. We communicate our findings like we would over a beverage on the back of a napkin — through simple sketches and a few excited lines of explanation that we may or may not regret the day after.

The Framework

There are countless ways to value a business. Ours is simple by design. With the following models we can evaluate high-level levers, identify critical metrics, estimate growth trajectories, and more. We aim to contextualize ideas, events, and trends across businesses, while also tracking individual progress and change.

Business Equations

Distill the business into a mathematical equation. Determine crucial levers and how they can enable growth, profits, and success. Estimate total addressable and serviceable market size.

Unit Economics

Evaluate the incremental profitability of a business given a set of assumptions. Demonstrate the impact of key levers in terms of real dollars. Contextualize opportunities through tangible metrics.


Demonstrate the accumulating advantages of a business. Identify areas where growth compounds, generating positive momentum for the business. These can be network effects or moats.