Seed Fundraising is one of the most competitive professional environments and having a great company is not enough — you must also have great pitch. Here’s how to make a good pitch great:
Use a Standard Template
A template is an outline of the slides your seed fundraising deck should include.
Answers Basic Questions — Making use of a template ensures you cover the basic questions an investor expects to be answered, e.g. the problem, market size, team, etc.
Keeps it Short — A template will force you to keep the deck short (under 15 slides). Instead of providing a multi-slide deep dive on your technology or the market — move those slides to the appendix.
Keeps you Focused — Most founders are tempted to put multiple points on a slide. A template helps you focus on one idea per slide and will encourage you to use a large font, and thus minimal text.
Practice, Practice, Practice
While fundraising, it should be your complete focus. This will leave plenty of time to practice your pitch.
Write out the Speech — Great pitches are done from memory. Writing out what you plan to say will help with memorizing the correct phrasing at critical points.
Avoid Additional notes — Founders tend to add unnecessary details on the fly when under pressure. Don’t keep voluminous notes on each slide or in your speech document.
Video Yourself — No matter how bad your pitch, it will get a lot better if you watch videos of yourself doing it end to end. A smartphone is all you need to record yourself and you will notice a number of issues that are fixable such as unclear explanations or nervous ticks.
Get Friendly Feedback — Don’t immediately start pitching new, potential investors. Begin with feedback sessions from existing investors or others you know well, at least 5–10 times. Given you and your investors’ interests are closely aligned, you can expect their feedback to be objective and it will give you a preview of the questions you should prepare for.
Iterate and Plan
The hard work before a pitch is critical for a great performance during the meeting.
Use a Designer — The design of your pitch deck has a surprising impact on investors. Find a designer early, so you can get a good one and have time for multiple rounds of edits as the deck evolves.
Iterate on Feedback — Allow time for edits based on the feedback you receive during practice sessions with friendlies. Write out the most common questions you received and their ideal responses. Don’t be afraid to confirm your changes and answers with those who gave feedback, they will usually be glad to continue helping.
Plan the Process — Assuming ~90 days for a seed fundraising process, beginning with friendlies; you should aim to meet your tier 1 investors mid-way through the process. This will give you ample time to improve the pitch and still be early enough in the process that your enthusiasm remains high.
Have Multiple Projections — Create 3 sets of projections for your fundraising: minimal raise for 9–12 months of runway, the target raise for 2 years, and “Go Big”, which is also for 2 years but scales the company more rapidly. This allows you to show appropriate plans to a variety of seed stage investors: Angels, Seed Funds and Larger VCs.