Philip Krim

Early-stage investors get excited about hearing your story, and how you’re going to change the world and why, as opposed to your saying, “Tactically, here are the next six steps we’re going to do, and this gets us to launch.” That tactical conversation—you need to have a keen grasp of it, but it’s not what sells the dream. It’s important to build your 12- or … [ Read more ]

Do Algorithms Make Better — and Fairer — Investments Than Angel Investors?

Can an algorithm outperform the average angel investor? And if it can, does that also mean it will make less biased investments? Researchers put these questions to the test: They built an investing algorithm and put it head to head with 255 angel investors in a simulation, asking it to select the most promising investment opportunities among 623 deals from one of the largest European … [ Read more ]

The Fundraising Wisdom That Helped Our Founders Raise $18B in Follow-On Capital

Two years ago, our team at First Round, led by Partner Bill Trenchard and VP Platform Brett Berson, began to quietly build out a program to help our founders navigate the choppy waters of follow-on fundraising. Long had we observed founders caught off guard by what was needed to raise their Series A after having a relatively easy time at the seed stage.

Realizing how … [ Read more ]

Brett Berson

When a founder says in a plainspoken manner, “When we close, we’re going to be…” you know that they already see the money in the bank. There’s no extra emphasis as they make the statement, but it’s clear it’s not in question. When talking about the future of your company orient around “when” and not “if.”

How to Calculate Your Total Addressable Market and Make a Great TAM Slide for Investors

I’ve seen hundreds of startup pitch decks and have found total addressable market (TAM) slides to be among the most frequently mis-executed. I get the sense they are often included as a formality in an attempt to get VCs to check a mental box and continue on hearing about other important things: the product, the team, the progress, the go-to-market, etc.
 
In this piece, I’m going … [ Read more ]

6 Ways Great Companies Use Board Decks to Their Advantage

After graduating from college in June, I had the chance to spend three months at Union Square Ventures, helping with a project that created anonymous aggregate insights for USV portfolio companies by analyzing data across stages, customers, and industries. In order to not put a lot of extra reporting effort on our companies, we approached this project by drawing from data in existing board decks. … [ Read more ]

How to Pitch Your Startup to a Venture Capitalist

Jenny Lefcourt is general partner at Freestyle Capital, a venture capital firm that specializes in seed and early-stage investments. She knows what it takes to be an entrepreneur because she’s been there. Lefcourt co-founded two companies — WeddingChannel.com and Bella Pictures — after dropping out of Stanford Business School. Meetings with investors to pitch the business and raise capital left her with a deeper understanding … [ Read more ]

What Do I Look for in a Pitch?

Founders will often ask me, “Do you want to go through our deck?”
 
It’s not about the slide deck. We have made the decision to invest in entrepreneurs without slides, whose ambition, passion, depth of understanding of an opportunity and compelling vision come through crystal-clear in conversation.
 
But…that’s a high bar for communication. Most of the time, putting a business plan on paper helps you structure a … [ Read more ]

Startup Pitch Decks

In my short career as a VC, I’ve reviewed thousands of pitch decks and helped hundreds of founders refine their pitches. Additionally, I’m often approached by founder friends to provide feedback on their slides before they go to market. Given pitch decks are frequently discussed and they’re essential in the fundraising process, I thought it would be useful to create a simple guide to building … [ Read more ]

Know these Numbers for your VC Meeting

VCs turn down 99% of the companies they’re introduced to. Most of those don’t make it to a face to face meeting. If you’ve made it to an in-person meeting, here are the numbers you need to know to get a VC excited.

Open Source Funding Documents

Cooley, one of the top startup law firms, has open sourced the legal documents required to do a Series Seed or Convertible Note financing.

10 Steps to Perfect Your Startup Pitch

Startup guru Guy Kawasaki explains why asking investors for money is like online dating.

How to Close Investors

Your round isn’t anywhere near closed unless you have enough investors who are very serious about investing. However, it can often be difficult to figure out if an investor is actually serious about investing or just being positive about your business. So how can you tell who is actually serious and who isn’t?

Why Do So Many Corporate VCs Die Young?

Specific staffing choices and high investment levels can prolong the lifespan of corporate venture capital units.

All the Public Startup Pitch Decks in One Place

Andy Sparks and Joshua Levy have assembled a list of reference pitch decks for founders to view when building their own. Some notable inclusions: YouTube, LinkedIn, Mint, BuzzFeed, AirBnB, Tinder, Foursquare, Moz, and Buffer.

David Heinemeier Hansson

In the abstract, economic sense, a 30% chance of making $3M is as good as a 3% chance of making $30M is as good as a 0.3% chance at making $300M. But in the concrete sense, you generally have to make your pick: Which coupon is the one for you?

The strategies employed to pursue the 30% for $3M are often in direct opposition to the … [ Read more ]

David Heinemeier Hansson

People who make lots of little bets on many potential unicorns have christened themselves angels. Angels? Really? You’ve plucked your self-serving moniker from the parables of a religion that specifically and explicitly had its head honcho throw the money men out of the temple and proclaim a rich man less likely to make it into heaven than a camel through a needle’s eye. Okay then!

[…]

Angels … [ Read more ]

How We Raised a $7 Million Series A from Foundry Group — our Top Choice VC

Ultimately, fundraising success requires:

fundraising execution + a compelling story/vision + evidence of traction + sheer determination + good fortune (luck)

This article focuses on the first of these five variables: fundraising execution. Below I lay out a 7 step framework to guide you through your fundraising process, and share some lessons learned having now successfully raised money for three separate ventures (and made plenty of mistakes … [ Read more ]

Seed Fundraising — How to Get a Meeting

The first part of fundraising is getting the meeting and 90% of startups fail at this point. Here’s how to make sure you get meetings with the right investors.