A side effect of attending a lot of startup events is that you hear a lot of pitches from startup founders. Through events like 1 Million Cups, accelerator programs, Startup Weekends, and hackathons I’ve heard over 100 pitches and presentations from startup founders over the last year.

As you can imagine, there is a very wide range in the quality of these pitches. A few founders have done their research. They have an excellent structure for their pitch, know their audience, present the problem they are solving, their value proposition, and key issues that investors want to know and have realistic expectations of what they’re asking.

In the majority of cases however, there’s a lot of room for improvement. What’s surprising to me is that more founders don’t take advantage of the advice and tips from VCs that is readily available. For example, founders here in Sacramento can get a lot of great advice just from attending a couple of key events a month. Foremost in my mind is Startup Grind. Each month, Rich Foreman hosts a fireside chat with a very successful entrepreneur or investor. Founders, if you want some great tips and you’re not attending these events, you’re missing out. For example here’s a few snippets of pitching wisdom from Startup Grind Sacramento guests Bill Reichert from Garage Ventures and Will Bunker VC partner at GrowthX.


Bill Reichert, Garage Ventures, at Startup Grind, March 2, 2016 (see original article)

  • Advice for early stage startups – the best way to fund your company is with revenues/customers.
  • Go find potential customers and get endorsement & validation, then you can go to VCs.
  • Every entrepreneur falls into the trap of describing their product. First, be clear about what you do.
  • Getting to WOW — you have 20 seconds to say something compelling or you’ve lost your audience.
  • Figure out how to say what you do in one sentence. Then describe why they should care. What is your competitive advantage.
  • Third sentence of pitch – establish your credibility. Why should they believe you.
  • You have 30 seconds to wow your audience: 1) What do you do. 2) What is the compelling value proposition. 3) Establish your credibility
  • VCs don’t invest with their heads. First they fall in love with the deal.
  • VC dirty little secret – the way to get funded is to get someone to fall in love with you.
  • VCs fall in love with something that you’ve got – the team, the tech, etc.
  • Third kind of VC love – falling in love with the vision.


Will Bunker at Startup Grind October 10, 2017

  • My first criteria when evaluating a #startup for investment is “are they building a future I want to live in?”
  • “Mental inflexibility” is one of the red flags that Will Bunker looks out for when evaluating a #startup for investment.
  • Seek fit. Don’t try to sell your product to customers, sell them a solution.


Sabya Das, Moneta Ventures

And, if you’d like some advice from a local VC firm, I interviewed Sabya Das from Moneta Ventures a few weeks ago and specifically asked him questions about:

  • What kinds of things they want to see in a startup before being pitched for money
  • The main things that Moneta is looking for in a startup that makes them attractive to invest in
  • What are some of the main shortcomings/gaps they typically see in startups that want to pitch VCs
  • What advice would you give to entrepreneurs listening

If you plan you’re trying to get a meeting to pitch an investor, especially Moneta, this interview is definitely worth a listen to help make sure you’re prepared and that you have realistic expectations going in. Watch the full interview below.

As we all know, entrepreneurship is extremely hard and pitching your idea to others, especially to investors, is a challenging, anxiety-inducing, nerve-racking experience. But, you’re not the first one to do it and you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. There’s a wealth of advice readily available. Take advantage of the information that’s been shared. Start with the tips from real investors listed above. Want more details or to see the whole interviews of these Startup Grind Sacramento events? Videos of past events are all available on the Startup Grind Sacramento website. Spend some time going through these interviews for great tips and advice before your next pitch. Good luck!