Get Backed: Tips on Funding Your Startup #3

Welcome to guest blogger, Evan Loomis — entrepreneur, Techstars mentor & the author of Get Backed.  

Get Backed provides entrepreneurs with information on how to raise capital and build genuine relationships with investors.  Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders in this book.

The book is also a workbook that offers in-the-trenches, real-world advice with helpful data, charts, photos, slides and actual examples of the most important things that every founder needs to know.

This is the third and final post in this blog series. Look for our podcast Q&A kicking off in January!

Get Backed

Chapter Nine excerpt: Pitching Exercises

This chapter brings together the best in experiential learning on pitching. It outlines several exercises—some easy, some bizarre—that entrepreneurs have used to turn their mediocre pitching into confident, powerful, cash-earning pitches. The goal with each of these exercises is to build your pitch muscle, to help you get over yourself, to become more comfortable telling your story, and to identify the style of pitching that resonates for your particular venture and personality.

Be warned, many of these exercises will feel awkward. Embrace the awkwardness. These exercises are what the best of the best use to teach the art of pitching.

Pitching Exercises:

  • The Techstars Jedi Mind Trick
  • The d.school Pitch Frameworks
  • The Dry Run
  • The Spy Dry Run

The Techstars Jedi Mind Trick

From: Jason Seats, Partner at Techstars

How long does it take? Five minutes

Who do you need? You and one person who doesn’t know anything about your venture

You’ve got twenty words. With those words, can you get someone to ask you the question you want to be asked about your venture?

To play the game, find someone who knows nothing about your venture to play with you. Then, tell the person your elevator pitch. As soon as you are done, ask the person, “What’s the first question that comes to your mind?”

You may be surprised by what you hear. Jason talks about his experience playing this game with Techstars companies:

The entrepreneurs may not know what question they wanted them to ask, but they sure know that wasn’t it.

“That question tells me they think we’re in a completely different industry.” It’s about leaving the right holes, leaving an obvious gap for the other participant in the conversation to step into.

In the words of East Coast investor Walt Winshall, “Don’t steal their line.”

Entrepreneur: “I’m going to tell you the elevator pitch of the venture I’m working on, and afterward I want you to ask me the first question that pops into your head. Sound good?”

Listener: “I guess so.”

[Entrepreneur gives pitch.]

[Listener asks the first question that comes to him.]

Afterward, reflect on the following:

  1. Was that the question you expected to hear? What did you want to hear?
  2. What does that question tell you about what the listener understands about your venture?
  3. What changes can you make to your pitch to set up the kind of conversation you want to have?

Learn more about Get Backed.

About the author: Evan Loomis loves helping startups launch and raise capital, mentoring entrepreneurs through Techstars and Praxis. He is the President of Clarion, heads up Corporate Strategy at Corinthian Health Services, and is the Founder of Tradecraft, a venture fund and consultancy for high growth businesses. His first startup was TreeHouse, a first-of-its-kind home improvement store specializing in performance and design. Evan also co-founded a national angel investment group called Wedgwood Circle. Evan got his start on Wall Street after graduating from Texas A&M University.

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of your Dreams. Copyright 2015 Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. All rights reserved.

 








Get Backed: Tips on Funding Your Startup #2

Welcome to the second post in our series on the new book for entrepreneurs, Get Backed, which includes new ideas on how to raise capital and build genuine relationships with investors.  Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders in this book authored by Techstars Austin mentor, Evan Loomis, and entrepreneur Evan Baehr.

This book + workbook offers in-the-trenches, real-world advice with heaps of helpful data, charts, photos, slides and actual examples of the most important things that every founder needs to know.

Get Backed
Chapter Six excerpt: Actual Pitch Decks

You’re about to see what only venture capitalists and investors typically get to see: excerpts from the actual pitch decks and fundraising strategies of fifteen successfully funded startups. For this chapter, we profile ventures from across multiple sectors, stages, and cities. Combined, these ventures have raised well over $100 million.

We debated whether to include this chapter at all; people find it nerve-racking to show their investor decks. But in the spirit of giving back, the founders featured here have chosen to offer you something that they normally never show anyone. We are deeply grateful for their commitment to advancing entrepreneurship.

As these profiles illustrate, when it comes to fundraising, there is no one-size-fits-all template, but there are patterns and principles to identify. Aside from the founders’ own comments and advice, we let their decks speak for themselves.

Drum roll please . . . Here are the strategies and materials of fifteen ventures that crushed it at raising money.

DocSend • DocSend tells you what happens to your documents after you send them.

Founding team: Russ Heddleston, Dave Koslow, Tony Cassanego
Location: San Francisco, CA
Funding round: Series seed
Market category: Software

Armed with computer science degrees from Stanford and experience working at companies like Facebook and Dropbox, Russ Heddleston, Tony Cassanego, and Dave Koslow founded DocSend, a service that tracks everything that happens to a document after you share it. The service became a hit among people sharing pitch decks themselves. DocSend’s deck is heavy on copy and uses neutral colors to avoid drawing attention away from the words.

Advice
“Focus on your strengths. Be sure to tell investors why you’re different and be sure to bring something unique to the table. This could be a hundred interviews with potential customers, it could be 10,000 signups, or it could be your background of ten years building machine learning software.”

Redo
“The design on this deck is atrocious. Our newer deck looks a ton better. We also have a lot more detail on our target user.”

Slide Investors Focused on Most
“The team slide was viewed the longest on average, followed by the competition slide.”

Common Mistakes Founders Make
“It’s all about quality, not quantity. Create a list of thirty investors who you actually want to meet with. Set up at least twenty meetings in a two-week period. Do this at least a few weeks out. If you can’t get any of those twenty to invest, you need to change something before you try again.”

Untitled
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Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of your Dreams. Copyright 2015 Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. All rights reserved.

Learn more about Get Backed

About the Authors
Get Backed isn’t just about startup fundraising. It’s a handbook for anyone who has an idea and needs to build relationships to get it off the ground.

Over the last 3 years, entrepreneurs Evan Loomis and Evan Baehr have raised $45 million for their own ventures, including the second largest round on the fundraising platform AngelList. In Get Backed, they show you exactly what they and dozens of others did to raise money—even the mistakes they made—while sharing the secrets of the world’s best storytellers, fundraisers, and startup accelerators. They’ll also teach you how to use “the friendship loop”, a step-by-step process that can be used to initiate and build relationships with anyone, from investors to potential cofounders. And, most of all, they’ll help you create a pitch deck, building on the real-life examples of 15 ventures that have raised over $150 million.

 








Get Backed: Tips on Funding Your Startup #1

We are excited to announce a new book for entrepreneurs from Techstars Austin mentor, Evan Loomis, and entrepreneur Evan Baehr. Their new book, Get Backed, includes new ideas on how to raise capital and build genuine relationships with investors. Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders in this book.

Over the next few weeks, we will release short excerpts from Get Backed on the Techstars blog including how to build the perfect pitch deck, a primer on startup financing, and insider tips on how to cultivate a relationship with investors. This book + workbook offers in-the-trenches, real-world advice with heaps of helpful data, charts, photos, slides and actual examples of the most important things that every founder needs to know – all in a clean, easy to read format.

Check out the first excerpt today and stay tuned for more!

Get Backed

Chapter Two excerpt: The Building Blocks of a Pitch Deck

The building blocks of a pitch deck are the slides. Slides are like the panels of a comic strip; they break down the story of your venture into discrete digestible chunks. Each slide highlights a different aspect of the venture and furthers the plot of the pitch. Eventually, you’ll have a whole archive of slides to draw from and sequence for each meeting or presentation. These are the essential ten (not including your cover page):

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.15.01 PM

Cover

What should I expect?

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.21.32 PM

What is it?

The cover slide captures the audience’s attention, sets the tone for the pitch, and serves as “white space” during a presentation so you can express gratitude for your audience’s time, show your passion for your venture, and build trust by mentioning mutual connections.

What should I demonstrate?

  • Clean logo. Your logo is the face of your brand; it can be very important to your overall image.
  • Inviting picture. You might include an engaging picture of your product or customer.
  • Descriptive title. Put “Investor Briefing” or “Investor Presentation” somewhere on the front cover with the date. Dates help you keep track of different versions.

What questions do I need to answer?

  • Does the cover make you want to open the pitch deck?
  • Does the cover visual communicate what the product is or who it serves?

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of your Dreams. Copyright 2015 Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. All rights reserved.

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Learn more about Get Backed


About the Authors
Get Backed isn’t just about startup fundraising. It’s a handbook for anyone who has an idea and needs to build relationships to get it off the ground.

Over the last 3 years, entrepreneurs Evan Loomis and Evan Baehr have raised $45 million for their own ventures, including the second largest round on the fundraising platform AngelList. In Get Backed, they show you exactly what they and dozens of others did to raise money—even the mistakes they made—while sharing the secrets of the world’s best storytellers, fundraisers, and startup accelerators. They’ll also teach you how to use “the friendship loop”, a step-by-step process that can be used to initiate and build relationships with anyone, from investors to potential cofounders. And, most of all, they’ll help you create a pitch deck, building on the real-life examples of 15 ventures that have raised over $150 million.