The Startup Pitch Checklist

Last Thursday, I was preparing to judge a startup pitch competition. I thought to myself, “How can I make sure every startup hits the key points?”

Then, it came to me: a checklist!

Every time you pitch investors, you need to give them certain key pieces of information. Without those details, they may just move on to the next company.

Make sure that never happens to your business! Whenever you pitch, make sure you check off these 6 key elements:

1) ☑️ Problem. What problem do you solve? For example, Uber solved the problem of expensive, hard to get taxi rides.

2) ☑️ Solution. How do you solve that problem?

Uber makes it easy to get a ride with a simple smartphone app. You always know exactly what you’re paying and where your driver is.

3) ☑️ Traction. Show us a chart of your revenue, broken down monthly or quarterly. Also, compute a growth rate using a tool like this.

Investors want to see a strong growth trend. Make absolutely sure you give them that, if at all possible.

Don’t have revenue yet? Show us monthly active users, signups, etc.

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4) ☑️ Market + Competitors. How big is your market? Who do you compete with?

I don’t get too hung up on complicated market size calculations, but here is a resource on how that is typically done.

I’m more interested in your competitors. Who do you lose deals to? Who do you beat for deals? And why?

Hint: “we don’t have any competitors” is rarely the right answer. Maybe no company does exactly what you do, but who is close?

5) ☑️ Team. This is especially critical for early stage startups. At this point, there usually isn’t a ton of performance to sell.

So you have to emphasize the quality of the team. Why are these the best possible people to take on this challenge?

6) ☑️ Ask. Here’s one of the strangest things I see: a founder telling a great story with solid traction, and then saying “thank you” and sitting down.

Umm, don’t you want something from us? 🙂

Never forget to tell the investors exactly what you’re asking for! Tell us how much you’re raising, at what valuation, and specify if that’s pre or post-money. (If the valuation includes the money you’re raising, that’s “$X post-money,” also referred to as “$X cap.”)

It’s also good to specify what type of fundraise you’re doing. Is it a SAFE, a priced round, or a convertible note?

Say something like this: “We are raising a $1 million SAFE at a $10 million cap.”

If you hit these 6 key elements, you’ll have a solid pitch that gives investors the details they need. You’ll also have a leg-up on other founders who provide incomplete or unhelpful information.

Best of luck on your fundraise!

What do you think makes a great pitch? What did I miss?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

How Startups Can Dominate the Elevator Pitch

How to Write a Deal Memo

Startups’ Secret Marketing Weapon: Blogging

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Photo: “Startup” by Skley is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0.

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