Community Weekly - Next week Pitch Lab with Julien Smith, Live Mtl Masterclass Jul 12, Insights and What VC AI bots say
A recap of the week and a look ahead
This was week one of my newsletter and I am so grateful to everyone who subscribed and reached out to me. Since writing my book I’ve been collecting so many ideas and topics I wanted to explore and I finally decided to start writing. I appreciate you being on the journey with me. Thank you!
By the way, Friday is Canada Day and just before the July 4th weekend so you’re receiving this a day early.
Pitch Lab next Tuesday July 5th at 4pm Eastern.
I’m really excited to have Julien Smith, author, investor and serial entrepreneur on next week’s Pitch Lab. He’s going to share the pitch and thought process that raised a $10M seed round from Andreesen Horowitz for his current startup, Practice (which I use for coaching and running Pitch Lab).
Montreal Masterclass July 12th
If you’re a Montrealer or visiting the city for StartupFest, join the first live, in-person Pitch Lab Tuesday July 12 @ 4pm. Location is right downtown. Register here!
Insights from Tuesday’s masterclass
Thank you to Matt from The New Business (product name Booker) and Jeff from iAccompany for pitching. Great work that spawned some interesting discussion, summarized here.
Storytelling vs lecturing
If you wait until slide 13 to reveal your solution you’re lecturing. You’re focusing too much on educating which leaves investors smarter but less interested in you.
Aim for the Liam Neeson Approach, get to the point quickly and don’t be subtle about it. Focus 100% on keeping investors focused on the huge problem (eg my daughter was kidnapped) and your unique solution (eg kicking ass).
It’s very difficult for founders to ignore their own expertise and tell a simple story. Explain it to me like I’m five. Look at every single bullet and image and ask yourself if your story cannot be told without it. You should be able to hook your audience after 2 slides: Problem, Solution.
Traction is what you’ve done (not what you’re projecting)
Your Traction slide should only contain things you’ve actually accomplished to date. Anything you’re projecting should be on a separate roadmap slide. Otherwise you’re taking away from your achievements and creating confusion.
For early stage companies who don’t have a lot of traction, showcase any market validation even if it’s not usage stats or revenue. Eg LOIs or endorsements from industry, survey results or usage of a proof-of-concept. For B2B it’s better to have one case study than a slide full of random logos. You want to show grip with an important customer.
Build empathy with the problem
One of the TechStars companies I work with is Emergency Response Africa. The founder’s story goes something like this: “I was living in Canada when I had my son. One night he had a medical emergency so we called 911. They sent an ambulance and took him to the hospital. It was scary but he was ok. When I went home to Nigeria I realized there is no 911 I could have called. I can’t image what would have happened to my son. Or for other Africans.”
If you tell an origin story, make it personal but make it short and specific. This story should be feel authentic and from the heart but you should write it and practice it. Try not to ramble and always stick to details that setup your startup’s story.
You think your VC meeting was confusing…
This post has become somewhat of a VC meme. If you don’t laugh at it you are clearly a bot. “Don’t burn money to stay warm. We will send vests from America’s south. If you are cold, set fire to your fat company.” Sage advice :)
Next Tuesday I’m publishing my next long-form post about Solution slides. It’s part 2 of a series where I’m walking through every slide in a pitch deck and talking about ways to improve, including examples. Part 1 was about the Problem.