Early stage fundraising pitch deck resources
- Sequoia Capital
- How to Build Your Seed Round Pitch Deck
- How to build a Series A pitch deck here (Y-Combinator)
- How to design a better pitch deck
- Docsend guide here
- 50 series A pitch decks here
- How to pitch to investors (David Rose Ted Talk)
General fundraising advice and understanding the VC market
- Guide to seed fundraising, by Y-Combinator
- VIDEO: How fundraising works, by Y-Combinator
- Fundraising advice from First Round Capital
- The secrets of Sand Hill Road, by Scott Kupor
- The hard thing about hard things, by Ben Horowitz
- Zero to One, by Peter Thiel
- The Lean Startup, by Eric Reis
Popular topics investors ask about
- How do you and your cofounder know eachother (if you have a cofounder). How strong is that relationship and can you power through the inevitable challenges you will face?
- Why are you and your team uniquely suited to tackle this market?
- Are you a founder who can scale to CEO? If not, what is the plan?
- Do you have the expertise on the team to address some of the biggest risks
- Product or technical risk?
- Sales or marketing?
- Risk or compliance (like credit)?
- Is the market size large enough to support a venture exit?
- How to calculate your TAM and SOM, by Techcrunch
- Can you show a $1B market cap?
- Can you demonstrate $100M of revenue (typical min for an IPO)?
- How do you compare to your competition?
- What would your customer do if you didn’t exist?
- How much will a customer pay? How do you know?
- Can you articulate your product value in 5 words or at most one sentence?
- What is your moat?
- Is your product unique or differentiated from others in the market in a protectable way?
- How do you measure product-market fit?
- What made your product viable now?
- New technology (like AI, cloud, mobile)?
- Market shift (like pandemic)?
- Who is your ideal customer profile? This will evolve as your product evolves, but be as specific as you can in the early days. “sales teams” is more generic than “Account executives on 50+ person sales teams in publicly traded companies”
- Make sure this aligns to your TAM
- We generally find great investors will narrow in on the top 5 questions you don’t want them to ask. It’s better to have answers prepared in advance, ideally with slides and supporting information.
- It’s acceptable to not have solved every issue, as every companies has issues. It’s less acceptable to not be aware of your risks and issues, and feel unprepared or ignorant to your business.
How do I find investors for my company?
Pre-seed: I have an idea but need capital to create an MVP:
- Family and Friends. (articles here, here, here)
- Pre-seed Venture funds
- Y Combinator, On Deck Founders, Village Global, 500 Startups, Techstars, Hustle Fund
- Pitch Competitions
- Some pitch competitions are open for just ideas, and you can win anywhere between $5,000 to a few hundred thousand dollars.
In the seed stage, your initial preparations end, and you have a proven product that is required in the market. Now, you must continue product development, grow your team, and build your brand.
- Angel Investors & Venture Capitalists
- Funding Circle, Lending Club, CircleUp, GrowthStreet, Localstake, NextSeed
- Crowdfunder, EquityNet, AngelList, Start Engine, Fundable, WeFunder
- Kickstarter, Indigogo, Rockethub
- Funding typically comes from venture capital firms
- Series B - This round is all about taking businesses to the next level, past the developmental stage and towards expanding market reach by building out BD, sales, marketing departments
- Funding typically comes from later stage venture capital firms
- Series C - This round is all about getting additional funding in order to help the business develop new products, expand into new markets, or even to acquire other companies
- Funding typically comes from groups such as hedge funds, investment banks, private equity firms, and large secondary market groups
How to prepare for due diligence
Staying data room and diligence ready will be crucial to keep the fundraising process moving forward. You should create an internal data room in Google Drive and perform regular audits to ensure you have all the necessary documentation on hand.
Common Due-Diligence Requests
- Series A Diligence Checklist by Y-Combinator
Due diligence is an inevitable fact of life for growth-oriented startups. Whether your startup is pursuing an investment round, government grant, or M&A opportunity, there will come a time when you need to open up your company files for outside scrutiny.
Use the following checklist to build a file organization structure and be disciplined about saving your files to stay prepared for due diligence.
- Information Articles of incorporation
- Minutes, board resolutions, board decks
- Legal docs for all issuances
- Cap table
- Options, warrants
- Licenses and insurance
- List of all banks and non-bank lenders
- List of any liens or outstanding borrowing
- List of competitors
- Marketing brochures
- Sales commission structure
- Marketing studies
- List of any real property owned or leased by company
- List of name, title, and compensation
- Details on employee benefit plans
Licenses and Permits
- Copies of permits/licenses
- Certificates from all states where company operates
Litigation and Claims
- Description of past, current, and threatened claims, lawsuits, disputes, proceedings, etc.
- Financial statements since formation
- Budgets and projections
- Federal, state and local tax returns
- Correspondence with any taxing authority
- Registrations for patents, trademarks, copyrights, and service marks
- Copies of any NDAs and Development Agreements
Early stage fundraising best practices only matter if you know them. I made the mistakes so you don’t have to…
Below is a subjective 4-part blog series on fundraising best practices for seed stage founders, with a focus on first-time founders raising venture capital. It's based on my personal experience (Sasha Orloff, founder of LendUp, Mission Lane, Puzzle) and hosting or attending multiple discussions on the topic with early stage founders and investors. Note: Later stage investing is almost an entirely different process.