Investor pitch deck and communication strategies: pre-seed and seed
For better or worse, the practice of selling anything of significant value in the world of business involves pitch decks. This includes, of course, “selling” your next funding round to investors. While there is no lack of educational content out there recommending an ideal slide order for your deck (e.g. problem, solution, market size, traction, competitors, team, etc…), this article will guide you - an early stage startup CEO - through the nuances and differences of pre-seed and seed pitches, including tips for how to communicate with investors before and after the close. The more efficiently you can get in front of the appropriate angel investors and venture capitalists, the faster you can finish your round and get back to running your business.
Raising your first outside round: How to navigate accelerators, angel investors, and venture capitalists
As 2020 approaches, the market for raising your first round outside of friends and family - traditionally called a “seed” round - has changed dramatically. There are now a wide variety of financial products to fit early stages of your company (i.e. there are no longer standard amounts for early rounds, and a maddeningly large number of accelerators and venture capitalists (VCs) are competing for your attention. In such an environment, the global noise of books, podcasts, videos, and blogs - i.e. marketing material - often steer founders in the wrong direction; i.e. away from local angel investors and micro-VCs who will most likely fill your round.
How to raise and spend "friends & family" money most efficiently for your startup
There is a reason why the earliest round of capital infusion into a startup is often called the Friends, Family, and Fools round: most founders at this stage usually take money from their own savings and/or inexperienced startup investors, burn through cash haphazardly, mess up their cap table by giving away too much equity (often to too many people), literally break the law by violating securities regulations, and/or fall victim to freelancers and agencies that are happy to work for money but don’t advocate for the best interest of the company.
The five common mistakes founders make after a product launch
Congratulations, you’ve introduced your product to the world! You got media attention and a ton of new users and customers. Now what? Unfortunately, most founding teams become dazed and confused at this point and end up wasting important momentum.
How to transition from private to public beta
Eager to launch, get written about in the press, and rocket their way toward startup glory, founders often neglect to take the time needed to sufficiently learn from their customers during private beta. Then, more often than not, the public launch process becomes a wasted opportunity. Frankly, what the team thinks they know at this stage about their customers, their product, their market dynamics, and their own company operations is mostly wrong, inefficient, and/or unclear.
How to optimize your “coming soon” page to acquire customers virally
As you gear up for the public launch of your startup, successfully optimizing and leveraging your coming soon page can set you up for massive success. Unfortunately, most founders squander this opportunity by either skimping on the critical components of the process, or by overdoing them in a tone-deaf manner and annoying potential customers.
The art and science of private alpha testing
Assuming you’ve gone through the process of ideating, validating, and creating a new product, now it’s time to get serious about testing it. Hopefully by now engineering has baked in an appropriate amount of automated tests to meet the specifications you put together, but the features you decided on are about to change. Welcome to real life.
When to start writing code for your Minimum Viable Product
More often than not, founders pursuing a new software startup end up writing code too early, wasting valuable time that should be spent with customers.
How to build wireframes and mockups to validate your business idea
Building a product — any kind of product — is hard. Somehow the engineering and creative parts of your team (and brain) need to coordinate to produce something that customers enjoy. If you pause for a moment and think about this, it’s amazing that anything good gets built.
Serve customers faster: An introduction to rapid design prototyping with Style Tiles
Equipped with your brand foundations, name, and logo, a design strategy that saves an enormous amount of time when building a software product is creating and iterating Style Tiles.
A simple guide to legal and finance operations for new startup founders
Questions and concerns surrounding legal and finance topics are often mental barriers for startup founders, especially in the early days. As it turns out, approaching these areas as you are gearing up to launch is easier than you might think. While of course it takes work, the steps are attainable if you approach them with the appropriate mindset and obtain the appropriate help.
How to build a brand foundation for your new startup
If you think you can design a nice logo, decide on some colors, put together a few mockups, and declare this as your new startup’s “brand”, you are profoundly mistaken. You need to think deeper.
The 7 benefits of building a UX Flow Chart before writing a line of code (free template included)
Product people love to talk to customers and refine concepts, creatives are happy designing mockups all day, and engineers just want to ship code with increasing velocity. Even with a very small team (or a solo founder with split personality disorder), this tension leads to the chaotic mess known as #StartupLife.
Startup Financial Modeling, Part 4: The Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, and Unit Economics
In the first three articles in this series, we looked at the big-picture motivation for startup financial modeling, why it’s important to start with your assumptions, and how to practically build your income statement and custom detail tabs. Today, we’ll finish off the series by examining how to construct the final components necessary to complete your model, including a quick discussion of unit economics and how to best keep your model updated.
Startup Financial Modeling, Part 3: The Income Statement and Custom Detail Tabs
In the first two posts in this series, we examined why building a financial model for your startup is important and how to practically get started with your assumptions tab. Today, we’ll continue by diving into the income statement and supporting tabs used to calculate your projected revenue and expenses.