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

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.

What’s the best way to know if an investor is interested?

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

If some investor isn’t returning your emails, or wants to have lots of meetings but isn’t progressing toward making you an offer, you automatically focus less on them. You have to be disciplined [about this]

What’s the best way to deal with rejection?

Babak Nivi (Co-founder of AngelList and Venture Hacks. Previously, he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partners and Atlas Venture.)
If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough | cdixon blog

People that reject me are doing me a favor. They’re not rejecting me or my product. They’re rejecting the combination of me and them together. They’re telling me we would have a bad relationship. And they’re probably right.

What’s the best way to deal with rejection?

Chris Dixon (General Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough | cdixon blog

In one case a friend who tried to help called me to console me. He seemed surprised when I told him: “no worries – this is a daily occurrence – we’ll just keep trying. ” If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enoug

What’s the best way to communicate with potential investors?

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

Be nice when investors reject you as well. The best investors are not wedded to their initial opinion of you. If they reject you in [seed/Series A] and you end up doing well, they’ll often invest in [the next fundraise]. In fact investors who reject you are some of your warmest leads for future fundraising

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 know if an investor is interested?

Ian Hograthy (CEO, Co-founder at Songkick)
How to Raise Money

A good way to tell how serious potential investors are: the resources they expend on you after the first meeting. An investor who’s seriously interested will already be working to help you even before they’ve committed.

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

Investors prefer to wait if they can. They seem like they’re about to invest right up till the moment they say no. If they even say no. Some of the worse ones never actually do say no; they just stop replying to your emails. They hope that way to get a free option on investing.

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

When an investor tells you “I want to invest in you, but I don’t lead,” translate that in your mind to “No, except yes if you turn out to be a hot deal. “

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
How to Convince Investors

Once investors like you, you’ll see them reaching for ideas: they’ll be saying “yes, and you could also do x. ” (Whereas when they don’t like you, they’ll be saying “but what about x?”)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Pro-Rata Opportunity – AVC

When a company hits escape velocity, the investors in the inside are the first (after the entrepreneurs) to realize it. And if you’ve watched hundreds of rockets go up in your career and dozens hit escape velocity, you start to be able to smell escape velocity coming. That means that “capturing pro-rata” is an opportunistic thing.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Sam Altman on Twitter: “investor translation: “i love you but …”, “we’d rather pay a higher price at the next round”, “i want to be helpful anyway” all mean “no””

investor translation: “i love you but …”, “we’d rather pay a higher price at the next round”, “i want to be helpful anyway” all mean “no”

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

If some investor isn’t returning your emails, or wants to have lots of meetings but isn’t progressing toward making you an offer, you automatically focus less on them. You have to be disciplined [about this]

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

Hear no till you hear yes. Treat investors as saying no till they unequivocally say yes, in the form of a definite offer with no contingencies.

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

Never leave a meeting with an investor without asking what happens next. What more do they need in order to decide? Do they need another meeting with you? To talk about what? And how soon? Do they need to do something internally, like talk to their partners, or investigate some issue? How long do they expect it to take? Don’t be too pushy, but know where you stand. Investors who are seriously interested in you will usually be happy to talk about … (read more)

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

Occasionally you’ll encounter investors who describe themselves as “valuation sensitive. ” What this means in practice is that they are compulsive negotiators who will suck up a lot of your time trying to push your price down. You should therefore never approach such investors first

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

A term sheet is the only way to know they’re serious.

What’s the best way to deal with rejection?

Babak Nivi (Co-founder of AngelList and Venture Hacks. Previously, he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Bessemer Venture Partners and Atlas Venture.)
If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough | cdixon blog

People that reject me are doing me a favor. They’re not rejecting me or my product. They’re rejecting the combination of me and them together. They’re telling me we would have a bad relationship. And they’re probably right.

Chris Dixon (General Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough | cdixon blog

In one case a friend who tried to help called me to console me. He seemed surprised when I told him: “no worries – this is a daily occurrence – we’ll just keep trying. ” If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enoug

What’s the best way to communicate with potential investors?

Armando Biondi (Cofounder & COO of AdExpresso)
#60 — Why communicate more with your existing investors (and how to do it efficiently) — Medium

There are two key benefits to sending your investors a monthly recap: a) you’ll give them a broad-enough but meaningful-enough perspective on what’s happening, b) you’ll give yourself a forcing function to generate relevant results in a reasonable amount of time. Here’s how: Short & sweet always win. Be numbers-oriented. Think actionable. Design matters. Use bullet points. Attach some multimedia content. Include cash position and burn-rate. Trigg… (read more)

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
How many hours per week does a venture capitalist expect startup founders to work? – Quora

Email responsiveness. Most great CEO respond to key emails with shocking alacrity. Listening. I know VCs sometimes give you terrible advice. But if you don’t at least listen, it creates anxiety that there is no trust.

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

Be nice when investors reject you as well. The best investors are not wedded to their initial opinion of you. If they reject you in [seed/Series A] and you end up doing well, they’ll often invest in [the next fundraise]. In fact investors who reject you are some of your warmest leads for future fundraising

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

Introducing an investor to your cofounder(s) should be like introducing a girl/boyfriend to your parents—something you do only when things reach a certain stage of seriousness.

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

Stay aboveboard so you keep trust with prospective investors. I was forthright with the first venture firm about my intentions, telling them that they received the first look, and that I would talk to a few more firms to put time pressure. And Greylock knew I had gotten a term sheet to accelerate their decision process.

David Cummings (Managing Partner at Shotput Ventures)
Entrepreneurs and Calls from VC Associates | David Cummings on Startups

In the end, most entrepreneurs shouldn’t engage with associates unless they’re going to raise money in the near-term and they’ve pre-qualified the firm to ensure it’s a good fit. If getting ready to raise money, associates can be a good testing ground and opportunity to practice the pitch or make an ask at the end of the call to be introduced to three portfolio companies that might be potential customers.

Jason Calacanis (CEO of Inside.com, Formerly “Entrepreneur in Action” at Sequoia Capital)
How To Demo Your Startup | TechCrunch

If you don’t have an answer be honest and say you don’t. The worst thing to do when you don’t have an answer is to b. s. the person. So, feel free to say you don’t know –- folks find it refreshingly humble and honest. There are many ways to say this including: “I’m not really sure, I’m going to have to think about that for a bit and get back to you,” or “I’m not sure to be honest. What do you think?” “I’ve never really considered that. Perhaps y… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
What Do I Wish Entrepreneurs Would Ask? – AVC

Entrepreneurs often feel that they have to be selling when they pitch. And many come in telling a rosy story that is all upside and no challenges. That can come off as naive and can be off putting. It is way better to start with the upside. As I like to say, “take me up the mountain and show me the promised land on the other side.” But after you’ve accomplished that, it is wise to explain where the tough spots will be on the way up the mountain a… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Hailo – AVC

Another big factor in our investment process was the “I told you so”. In late 2011 as Hailo was just launching in London, the team came to see us and told us everything they planned to do in 2012. We were impressed by the team, their backgrounds, and their attitude and energy. But we had big concerns about everything they said they were going to do in 2012. A year later, they came back to see us and not only had they done everything they said the… (read more)