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Feb 15, 2022

Pitching to Venture Capital Investors Soon? Don’t Make This One Mistake.

Got an investor meeting on the books? Unsure about what questions you’ll get asked? Read on to find out.

Amanda Cruz
Keane Angle
BY

Startup funding has skyrocketed and it's a great time to be a founder.

In 2021, venture investment in startups reached $621 billion – more than double what it was in 2020. This new downpour of funding is fueling innovators to pave the way for a better future.

In 2021...

If you’re a founder, odds are, you’re planning on raising funds in the next year or sooner.

We asked 300 founders if they were planning to raise funds in the next 12 months in early 2021, and 100% of them said “yes.”

Good news! Right?

Well, maybe. It takes time to raise capital. A lot of time.

Combine this with the fact that over half (56%) of startup founders also work in a full-time job, and you can virtually hear the stress levels rising!

What’s worse, is that while most founders are self-made and many come from accounting, marketing, or managerial backgrounds - rarely are startup founders also expert copywriters, professional designers, or world-class public speakers.

Why are those skills important?

Those are just a few of the things that startup founders must master in order to successfully pitch investors.

Not only are founders spending every waking hour building their own company while working in a full-time job, but they also have to somehow muster incredibly rare skillsets to be able to land that funding they so desperately seek!

Becoming a pitch deck expert and ace presenter is not exactly something that can be done overnight. Sometimes it can’t even be done over an entire career.

So, how do successful founders do it?

Love it or hate it, the secret to winning investors, raising millions, and becoming a successful founder is learning to pitch successfully.

Startups across all fundraising stages (Seed, Series-A, etc) raise funds every two years on average.

Because of this, founders have no choice but to meet with and pitch sometimes dozens of investors if they want land capital to grow their startup.

Trying to grow a startup without investment capital is like trying to fly a plane without wings.

Entrepreneurs who are self-made—that is, they bootstrapped their way to success—are a rare breed.
- Investopedia

Investor meetings are a must.

But, just how many meetings does it take?

On average, founders conduct between 40 and 50 meetings to raise $1 million

Yes. By the end of those 50 meetings, founders are probably pretty good at pitching.

What about those early meetings though? How do founders prepare for those?

For many founders, the mere thought of pitching live and answering questions on the fly gets their hearts pounding.

Public speaking can make anyone nervous.

There are lots of factors that one has to take into consideration when facing an audience, and every one of them is anxiety-inducing.

75% say public speaking is their number one fear
- National Institute of Mental Health

Why? No one wants to...

  • Look unprepared
  • Bore people to death
  • Forget their talking points
  • Come across as untrustworthy
  • Or be humiliated

And, of course, no one wants to fail!

Rejection stings.

It can cause anyone to doubt themselves and often years of hard work and dedication.

Has all that risk been for nothing?

Unfortunately, it gets worse.

In the world of fundraising, “no” is the default answer.

Even the multi-billion companies that we all know and love (or hate) were been rejected many, many times before they raised successfully.

  • AirBnB was rejected by five out of seven investors they had reached out to; the other two ignored them completely
  • The Foundry Group had initially passed on Fitbit, only for them to offer an investment 8 months later
  • Bessemer Venture Partners even put together what they call the Anti-Portfolio— a collection of now successful companies they passed on investing in. One entry notes how investor Byron Deeter met the Tesla team and even put a deposit on a car after getting a chance, but eventually passed on investing. Tesla passed $30B in market cap in 2014. B
  • Christoph Janz from Point Nine Capital passed on Soundcloud, despite spending a considerable amount of time studying the opportunity.

It’s clear that founders have to endure a ton of polite slaps in the face before things start to go their way.

But is it really just a numbers game?

Is it okay to bomb the first 25 meetings?

Not really. Why?

Investors know each other and talk about the industry.

One bad meeting can make an impression on the entire investor community.

If a startup has potential, they share it with their colleagues.

But if a pitch goes wrong... they share that too!

Even if a pitch was presented well, the possibility of a single question catching the startup team off-guard could create a lingering negative impression that could be spread to other investors.

– Magdalena Kala, VP of Consumer Investing at Bain Capital Private Equity

Through many months of research, we’ve encountered many resources who are not afraid to point out founder mistakes.

If they blog about it, imagine what they say to fellow investors over drinks!

Oh, if only the elusive investment fairy 🧚would wave their magic wand to grant founders a stream of never-ending capital!

Alas. Like much of the news we read today, that story is fiction.

Instead, mere mortals must instead learn how to nail the pitch meeting.

We all dream to be cool, calm, collected, and confident.

But even excellent speakers like Steve Jobs rehearsed over 100x before opening their mouths on stage. And that’s actually a good thing. The fact that good public speaking comes from practice means that rarely are founders born as great speakers – they’re made through practice and rehearsal.

But, how can founders possibly guess what questions an investor is going to ask during a meeting?

The actual pitch deck slides can be rehearsed, sure. Questions from investors? A different story altogether.

Investors are busy people too. if in the first few minutes of a meeting they realize the startup isn’t worth their time, they can easily cut a meeting short.

During a meeting, investors grill founders on nearly every element of their business to often test the founders’ expertise and knowledge.

Investing millions isn’t something that anyone does casually – especially not professional investors. This audience needs to be 100% confident in a startup and their team before they say “yes.”

Ultimately, founders can’t please everyone. But they can practice answering common investor questions.

The problem is there are a million different blog posts out there about “top 10 investor questions” and whatnot.

However, all those top 10 lists have different questions! So what the heck should founders rehearse?

It’s for this exact reason that STORY wanted to do some research to clear the waters for founders. Over the past few months, we collated, organized, and analyzed hundreds of investor questions and distilled them down into one, definitive investor Q&A guide.

We call it The Founder’s Cipher.

The Founder's Cipher: The ultimate guide to answering any investor question without breaking a sweat.

This 50+ page guide teaches founders the top investor questions they’ll be asked according to startup experts and investors. It’s the result of compiling, collecting, and analyzing a whopping 706 verified expert opinions. We then boiled them down into the top 135 questions and bucketed each of them into 16 categories.

With The Founders Cipher, entrepreneurs can...

  1. Ace every investor meeting with confidence
    Get high-level insights behind top investor opinions to help guide the fundraising journey
  2. Prep for investor questions ahead of time
    Study our aggregated investor questions before meetings to never be caught off-guard
  3. Answer every investor question expertly
    Deepen your understanding of investor behavior with data-based analysis of credible sources

We did the research so founders don’t have to.

  • 706 investor opinions gathered
  • 135 prioritized questions
  • 16 categories outlined

Founders will learn how to answer questions like:

  • How confident are you that the necessary team gaps will be filled when needed?
  • What key metrics are your team is focused on?
  • What have you learned from early versions of the product or service?
  • How do you compare against your competitors on service?
  • How can early traction be accelerated?

Here’s what past founders have said about The Founders’ Cipher:

I bought the Founder's Cipher two days ago and so I'm glad to have it in my toolkit to prepare for my upcoming investor meetings!”
– Zack Doherty, Founder @ TrueVote

We’ve been told that the advice in this guide is worth hundreds of dollars at a minimum.

But, we believe that the more founders that have access to the tools they need to succeed, the more we’re all better off as a global society.

So, we’re only charging $37 bucks for it.

It costs less than a DoorDash delivery order for one and it’s a helluva lot tastier.

Buy the 53-page PDF below:

Who is STORY?

STORY Pitch Decks helps founders and entrepreneurs win the hearts and minds of investors through powerful pitch decks that land funding.

STORY’s founder, Keane Angle, is a multi-award-winning Fortune 500 advertising strategist turned pitch deck pro. Since 2018, we’ve produced stacks of Pre-seed, Seed, and Series-A pitch decks that have raised millions in funding at a rate that is 40x higher than the industry average.

Learn More About Our Services

  • AN INVESTOR-READY STORY -

    We ensure your deck has everything in it that investors look for so your startup can land more meetings more often.

  • CONVINCING SLIDE COPY -

    We’ve written hundreds of decks since 2018; we know what works, what doesn’t, and how to embody the tone you’re going for.

  • ON-BRAND, POWERFUL VISUALS -

    For most startups, your brand begins with your pitch deck. We work with existing brands, and even create brand-new ones.

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Here's what other founders are saying:

Was super impressed with the outcome of our deck after working with Keane. The overall design turned out great and we have a super clean, straight-to-the-point deck now.
Seb Jacob, CEO
Faber Connect
Keane and the STORY team did an amazing job helping us with our deck. We were really impressed by how quickly they understood our value prop and our market and were able to translate that into a deck– all in less than 2 weeks. The final product looks amazing and really tells our story. We could not be happier. Highly recommended.
Bas Lustenhouwer, CFO
Nivoda
As a super busy CEO, the thought of creating an amazing pitch deck to raise our Series-A was quite intimidating. I needed someone who was an expert in the space with a proven track record and a solid process. Not only did I find that in STORY but the outcome far exceeded my expectations. Keane and the team are top-notch. My only regret is not having found them sooner!
Ryan Sorley, CEO
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