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.

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.

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.

16 Definitions on the Economics of VC

Scott Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz attempts to clear some of the opacity of how the VC industry works, by defining some basic terms, beginning with a bit of history.

Common Startup Timing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

There’s a lot of advice on the web about what to do once you’ve raised money, but not when to do it. This is unfortunate, because poor timing can kill a company. This post will describe some common timing issues, as well as a framework for avoiding them.

The Law of Large Numbers

Rafe Furst of Quantitative VC uses data analysis and poker references to try to understand if VCs are good at investing in startups or if it is all just luck.

When Is a “Mark” Not a Mark? When It’s a Venture Capital Mark.

The WSJ wrote a story on venture capital returns that claims “Andreessen Horowitz’s Returns Trail Venture-Capital Elite.” Andreessen Horowitz’s Scott Kupor offers a rebuttal by explaining how arcane and obtuse venture capital valuations can be.

31 Investor Questions Startups Should Be Prepared to Answer

I’ve heard thousands of investors ask tens of thousands of questions. I’ve also learned that startups’ answers to these questions can be far more insightful than a rehearsed pitch. This is a list of the most frequently asked investor questions.

Investors and Their Incentives

It is incredibly important to understand the incentives of investors when you are raising money. This used to be fairly easy – you raised money from Venture Capitalists who wanted to see a big return on their investment. The best of these investors were incredibly focused on doing the one thing they did well: investing in technology companies.

The world looks different now. There are a … [ Read more ]

7 Benefits Your VC Should Provide

Every entrepreneur can expect their venture investors to bring seven main benefits to the table. If you already have venture investors, you can use this article as-is. If you are currently considering fundraising, reverse it and ask prospective investors if they are able to support you in these key areas. If not, ask yourself if you’re talking to the right people.