What’s the best way to pitch your company to investors?

David Beisel (Co-Founder & Partner at NextView Ventures)
Never Raising Capital Ever Again – GenuineVC

Capital fundraising is to facilitate growth ahead of cash flows generated by the business. If there is truly a huge venture-scale opportunity ahead of a startup, there should be an appropriate cost of capital for future financings to expand which make sense for the company. … perhaps in many cases the desire for the Seed round to be the final round of financing is a tacit signal that it doesn’t have the potential to be “venture scale” after all.

What’s the best way to do outreach to investors?

David Beisel (Co-Founder & Partner at NextView Ventures)
Pull the Plug or Keep Searching for the Believer? When Fundraising is Tough. – GenuineVC

Because of this learning, we counsel our seed companies when raising a Series A to run a full & synchronized process with a broad array of firm sizes, types, and shades to determine what profile will become believers. It’s not until you have had a broad array of conversations are you able to tease out the profile of (and subsequently specific) firm(s) which will be attracted to your company. My partners and I at NextView talk a lot about how fund… (read more)

What’s the best way to create your marketplace strategy?

David Beisel (Co-Founder & Partner at NextView Ventures)
Start Your Marketplace Engines – GenuineVC

I’ve observed a couple of strategies and approaches for overcoming cold-start inertia: 1. Offer supply side value for being present beyond just buyers 2. Attract would-be buyers with research/learning about purchasing… suppliers will follow 3. Attract would-be buyers with research/learning about purchasing… suppliers will follow 4. Piggyback off an existing marketplace. 5. Develop/leverage meaningful relationships so sellers are patient during an… (read more)

What’s the best way to pitch your company to investors?

Aaron Levie (CEO of Box)
Aaron Levie (@levie) | Twitter

Sizing the market for a disruptor based on an incumbent’s market is like sizing the car industry off how many horses there were in 1910.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Startup financing is not a popularity contest; everyone saying yes is irrelevant to you. It’s more important to have the right person say yes than it is to have everyone say yes.

Tim Jackson (‎General Partner at Lean Investments)
Investment Swarm with Tim Jackson at Hive53.com – YouTube

Team: how good? Traction: how fast? Market: how big? Barriers: how high? and then… Why did this deal come to me? How can I help?

Rob Go (Co-Founder and Partner at NextView Ventures)
Why The Series B is the “Sucker Round” – ROBGO.ORG

In the seed and Series A, you are selling promise and some execution. In growth rounds, you are selling something that already “works”. You are selling a marketing machine, and the ability to “put in 1 dollar and get out 2″. In between, you are selling a hybrid of both, and that isn’t easy.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
What happened to innovation? – Sam Altman

A two-by-two matrix of progress in innovation (and ease of attracting investment) with software/physical on one axis and short-term/long-term on the other axis looks like this. Green is good, yellow is ok, and red is bad. https://phaven-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/files/image_part/asset/948806/gd5P6SxQ7LcBL_LP4XtEtlK9Jx4/medium_matrix.png

Bruce Gibney (Former Partner @ Founders Fund)
Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 8 Notes Essay

Just make an affirmative statement about what you do and why it’s important. SpaceX has a great elevator pitch: “Launch costs haven’t come down in decades. We slash them by 90%. The market is $XXbn.” (Contrast this with: “We’re NASA meets Toyota!”)

Anthony Lee ( Managing Director of Altos Ventures, Marketing @ Evolve Software (acquired), McKinsey)
Why Big, Why Now, Why You? – Altos Ventures

Specifically, there are “3 Whys” that I want to see in every pitch: WHY BIG? WHY NOW? WHY YOU? On Why Now? — this is one that entrepreneurs almost always miss and so it is one that I have come to feel is the most critical. So much of startup success is dictated by good timing

Kris Duggan (CEO and Founder at BetterWorks)
The Second-Timers: Kris Duggan of Betterworks: “This Time, I Generated Leads Before We Even Launched” | SaaStr

If you ask for money, you get advice. If you ask for advice, you get money. I spend 10x more of my time on customers than investors. For example, we don’t have an investor deck here at BetterWorks. If a potential investor wants to talk, I show them our sales deck so they know how we talk with prospects. Thinking that way makes me remember to stop ‘pitching’ and keep listening.

Richard Price (Founder, CEO at Academia.edu)
Guerrilla tips for raising venture capital | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Christina Farr

When pitching a VC, you need to have at your command the macro stats for the industry, because that is how they compare your problem with another idea that someone else is pitching. Intuitions are not enough to make the comparison, and for the partner to pitch his/her colleagues – there needs to be some market data about the size of the market etc.

Ben Yoskovitz (VP Product at VarageSale, VP Product at GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce), Author of Lean Analytics)
“No Marketing” Isn’t as Impressive as You Think

Marketing is learning. If you’re not learning, you’re not making progress. Don’t tell investors that your traction is “without any marketing” because that just means it’s not repeatable and scalable.

David Cancel (CEO, Co-Founder at Drift)
My Golden Rule for Pitching Your Startup or Product

There’s a simple rule I use when pitching a product or even a company to someone. I call it No “and”s. You have to be able to describe your idea in a single sentence without using the word “and. ” The problem with using “and”s is that they often confuse ideas instead of clarifying them.

Alfred Lin (Partner at Sequoia Capital, Former CFO/COO Zappos)
How to Convince Investors

It’s doubly important for the explanation of a startup to be clear and concise, because it has to convince at one remove: it has to work not just on the partner you talk to, but when that partner re-tells it to colleagues.

David Beisel (Co-Founder & Partner at NextView Ventures)
Never Raising Capital Ever Again – GenuineVC

Capital fundraising is to facilitate growth ahead of cash flows generated by the business. If there is truly a huge venture-scale opportunity ahead of a startup, there should be an appropriate cost of capital for future financings to expand which make sense for the company. … perhaps in many cases the desire for the Seed round to be the final round of financing is a tacit signal that it doesn’t have the potential to be “venture scale” after all.

David Cancel (CEO, Co-Founder at Drift)
3 Startup Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

You can only raise money by pitching the “Dream” or by selling “Traction”. So either bootstrap your startup, or raise money in the early “dream” (no code, no plan, just a dream) phase or in the “traction” (the model is working) phase of your business.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Pitching to investors: What truly excites you? | A Founder’s Notebook

A pitch to investors doesn’t need to be an exhaustive overview of your business. You need to get investors excited, and you can then follow up with details. And what gets investors excited is probably what gets you excited.

Hunter Walk (Founder & Partner at Homebrew)
Five Mistakes New VCs Make (& How I Tried to Avoid Them) | Hunter Walk

New VCs are vulnerable to fashionable verticals. What are some motivations to chase the market? Groupthink certainly; high volume of new companies in these spaces; perceived appetite for these companies from downstream investors mean you can get some quick markups over next 12 months.

Oren Jacob (Founder & CEO at ToyTalk)
Take Your Fundraising Pitch from Mediocre to Memorable with These Storytelling Tips | First Round Review

You should be able to tell your whole story, in a compelling and detailed fashion, in just 20 minutes. This will almost always expand to fill the hour… At the same time, you want to have hours and hours of nerdy details squirreled away in your head.

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Black Swan Farming

The two most important things to understand about startup investing, as a business, are (1) that effectively all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners, and (2) that the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

The general rule is one business model drives the business. It’s tempting to list multiple revenue streams because you’re trying to prove that you will be big. Yet when consumer internet companies do this, investors generally see a red flag.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Your investment thesis is either concept-driven or data-driven. Which kind you are pitching? In a data pitch, you lead with the data because you are emphasizing how good the data already is. If it’s a concept pitch, on the other hand, there may be data, but the data supports a yet undeveloped concept.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Pitch by analogy. Show, don’t tell. Again, your pitching goals are to increase investors’ confidence in your investment thesis and lead them to a shared view of your company’s problems. To accomplish this, you should show rather than tell whenever possible.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Understand where analogies apply and where they do not. Pitch by analogy but don’t necessarily reason by analogy. When I’m the investor listening to a pitch, one detail I consider is whether the entrepreneur is being too deluded by their analogies and not thinking hard enough about exception cases. It’s better to have no analogy than a bad one.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

When pitching by analogy, anchor your business to other valuable businesses to signal that your business will be valuable, too

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Avoid debating the validity of your analogies. If someone pushes back and tries to challenge elements of an analogy, don’t let yourself get drawn into a back and forth. Analogies are a conceptual framework, so they’re not going to be 100% accurate.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Express your competitive advantage. Why are you going to break out of the pack? What is your advantage? An understanding of product-market fit? Is it a technology advantage? What’s your differential business strategy? Your differential growth strategy? Your differential product?

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Show some maneuverability. Don’t just say that you have five different options. Instead, say that you’re doing one, but you also have some fall-back or maneuvering options.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Ultimately, you’re selling the partnership, so give the individual partner the talking points to be successful. What will that partner tell their partners? Put yourself in their shoes.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

When in doubt, lead with what will make the most sense to investors.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Underpromise and overdeliver. Internally, our team expected that paid members would potentially get access to the whole network, but we had to make sure that the network would be comfortable with this. So we showed four degrees [of seperation] to our investors, to be sure.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Be wary of adjectives and especially adverbs. Anytime you use qualifiers like “very”, you’re overstating your point, which shows that you’re nervous about it. When I’m being pitched as an investor and I see such qualifiers, I make sure to ask questions about those areas because I know the entrepreneur is most nervous about them. It’s okay to be hyperbolic, to be aggressive, to be visionary [but] avoid adverbs and adjectives when possible.

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Download • Snapchat

Explain to them why you are unique (if you are in a larger market). In essence, why did everyone else pass on you?

Bruce Gibney (Former Partner @ Founders Fund)
Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 8 Notes Essay

Tell a story – and try to do it first without relying on your deck. People like stories. Our brains are wired to respond them. We recall facts better when they are embedded in narrative. Why did you start your company? What do you want to achieve? Then drape the facts around that skeleton.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
This For That – AVC

We’ve made a few of these investments and some of them have worked out pretty well.Edmodo is Facebook for classrooms. SoundCloud is YouTube for audio.
If you are going to do a “this for that” investment, the first thing you need to make sure is the iconic company (this) is not going to go after this other market (that) themselves. Then you need to make sure the other market (that) is very large. And finally, you need to make sure that the founde… (read more)

Roy Bahat (Head at Bloomberg Beta)
Early startup pitches are like movie pitches, not business pitches — Medium

An early startup pitch might be more like a movie pitch than a business pitch. Early startup investors might be more like Hollywood movie producers or A&R people in music — listening to the tape! — than they are like Actual Businesspeople. The best ones just know what a few bars of good jazz sound like when they hear it.

Bruce Gibney (Former Partner @ Founders Fund)
Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 8 Notes Essay

One of the most important things to understand is that, like all people, VCs are different people at different times of day. It helps to pitch as early as possible in the day. This is not a throwaway point. Disregard it at your peril

Bruce Gibney (Former Partner @ Founders Fund)
Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 8 Notes Essay

The standard format is stringing together a few well-known products and services that you sort of resemble: “We are Instagram meets TaskRabbit meets Craigslist.” You should reject the standard format.

Amir Elaguizy (CEO Cratejoy, YC Alumni)
58 things I learned at YC – Giftshop Scientist

Don’t pitch from the defensive & don’t start by apologizing

Amir Elaguizy (CEO Cratejoy, YC Alumni)
58 things I learned at YC – Giftshop Scientist

Framing matters a LOT (seed round vs seed extension)

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
What I Wish I Knew Before Pitching LinkedIn to VCs | Greylock Partners

Your investment thesis is either concept-driven or data-driven. Which kind you are pitching? In a data pitch, you lead with the data because you are emphasizing how good the data already is. If it’s a concept pitch, on the other hand, there may be data, but the data supports a yet undeveloped concept.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Talk to your network to evaluate your ideas and evaluate your pitch. The questions you should always ask are: What’s wrong? What’s broken? Why won’t it work? What do you think the risks are? People by default will want to give you good feedback rather than bad, so you have to ask negative questions.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Take competition against your potential revenue streams seriously. Being detailed about your competition, especially listing the specific companies, helps increase investor confidence.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Be decisive and ship. Including specific dates, for example, shows decisiveness. Being decisive doesn’t mean that you have to stick with your decisions. Good investors expect you to iterate often as you figure out what product will grow your market.

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Download • Snapchat

VC’s don’t fund mobile app companies anymore. The reason is it’s impossible to get distribution through the iPhone app store or Google Play.

Richard Price (Founder, CEO at Academia.edu)
Guerrilla tips for raising venture capital | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Christina Farr

VCs are looking for the ten-year level of discourse, rather than the six month level of discourse. Being in an investor meeting is actually the one environment where you can let you imagination rip

What’s the best way to do outreach to investors?

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
How to Raise Money

You should always talk to investors in parallel rather than serially. You can’t afford the time it takes to talk to investors serially, plus if you only talk to one investor at a time, they don’t have the pressure of other investors to make them act.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Identify the investors you most want and the investors who are most likely to say yes. These are not necessarily the same people (though it’s excellent if they are). Approach your likely investors and your ideal investors at the same time, because your likely investors provide a temporal forcing function by which you might end up with your ideal investors

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Download • Snapchat

Find people who grew up in your town. They’ll understand the nuances of the market better.

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Download • Snapchat

Try to find an investor who already has a portfolio company in your town. The extra effort isn’t as much for them.

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Download • Snapchat

[If you’re not in a major market] consider moving to a new city and keeping product/tech in the older city.

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Download • Snapchat

Go through local angels who might be a good partner with the VC to help keep [an out of town] VC’s responsibility smaller.

Reid Hoffman (Partner & Co-Founder at Greylock Partners)
LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Understand your audience. Research prospective investors thoroughly. What kinds of businesses are they looking at? What model/criteria/triggers do they use to judge whether a project will be successful or not? If you don’t have some sense of their points of view, your likelihood of making the pitch go well is more random


Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Fundraising Tip: Don’t Send The Same Email To Two Partners At The Same VC Firm – AVC

[Send] an email to only one partner at a VC firm, not two or more.
A good alternative is to send an email to one partner and copying an analyst at the firm as well. The analysts are the most diligent people in a VC firm about staying on top of inbound deal flow and they will often step in and reply to an email that a partner has missed or forgotten about. The important thing here is to avoid confusing who has the responsibility to reply to the e… (read more)

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
What Do You Need to Do to Improve Sales? Here’s a Start … | Bothsides of the Table

You need to consider the type of investments each VC does. Can you look at their portfolio and see deals that are at least similar to what you do?

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
What Do You Need to Do to Improve Sales? Here’s a Start … | Bothsides of the Table

If you’re raising a seed round and talking to a billion-dollar growth-stage fund you’re not being very focused. Equally, if you’re talking with a $100 million fund about your $20 million round your hit rate will be low. So understanding the stage of a VC matters

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
What Do You Need to Do to Improve Sales? Here’s a Start … | Bothsides of the Table

So make sure you qualify before even making calls or asking for intros. The research you put into fund raising before you start the process will pay huge dividends in your efficiency and hit rate.

Ben Erez (Product at Breeze)
22 Mistakes I Made as a First Time Founder — Viabilify

There’s one thing just about every high net worth individual we spoke with had in common: none of them knew shit about tech startups. I was always able to explain what we were building but the idea of building technology was so foreign to them that none of them were able to stomach investing in such an unknown. You could also rephrase this mistake as “thinking all rich people are potential investors”.

David Beisel (Co-Founder & Partner at NextView Ventures)
Pull the Plug or Keep Searching for the Believer? When Fundraising is Tough. – GenuineVC

Because of this learning, we counsel our seed companies when raising a Series A to run a full & synchronized process with a broad array of firm sizes, types, and shades to determine what profile will become believers. It’s not until you have had a broad array of conversations are you able to tease out the profile of (and subsequently specific) firm(s) which will be attracted to your company. My partners and I at NextView talk a lot about how fund… (read more)

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Download • Snapchat

If you’re not in the investors market, say that you’ll be out to where the investor is 6-8x a year for business anyway and that you just ask they fly out once a year to meet to the team.

Ron Conway (Founder & Co-Managing Partner @ SV Angel)
Ron Conway, Mike Maples Jr. – Angel Investing Revealed by Stanford eCorner | Free Listening on SoundCloud

You have to have a great executive summary with a great elevator pitch. If you can’t communicate via writing exactly what this company’s doing you’re not going to get through the system

What’s the best way to create your marketplace strategy?

David Beisel (Co-Founder & Partner at NextView Ventures)
Start Your Marketplace Engines – GenuineVC

As a general rule, once a true market is going, I’ve observed that the supply-side often increases in step-functions, while the demand-side grows incrementally

Simon Rothman (Partner @ Greylock Partners)
How To Structure A Marketplace | TechCrunch

The first marketplace to reach liquidity wins. But what is liquidity? Liquidity is the reasonable expectation of selling something you list or finding what you’re looking for. It isn’t an exact science. Some guidelines: A conversion range of 30-60% is a reasonable expectation. The higher your average selling price, the lower the conversion rate may be. The harder it is to find a good elsewhere, the lower the conversion rate may be. Price dispersi… (read more)

Simon Rothman (Partner @ Greylock Partners)
How To Structure A Marketplace | TechCrunch

For every aspect of the marketplace, ask: does the user do the work or does the platform do the work?
If the user does the work, it’s decentralized. If the platform does the work, it’s centralized. At a high level, decentralization gives you speed, but the cost is an inconsistent and possibly poor user experience.

David Beisel (Co-Founder & Partner at NextView Ventures)
Start Your Marketplace Engines – GenuineVC

I’ve observed a couple of strategies and approaches for overcoming cold-start inertia: 1. Offer supply side value for being present beyond just buyers 2. Attract would-be buyers with research/learning about purchasing… suppliers will follow 3. Attract would-be buyers with research/learning about purchasing… suppliers will follow 4. Piggyback off an existing marketplace. 5. Develop/leverage meaningful relationships so sellers are patient during an… (read more)