How to pitch investors, learn from rejection, improve your company, and get funded.

You were invited to pitch your startup by a well-respected VC. You had their interest. Your slide deck was with guidance from great tutorials (like this one by Darren Cooke), and polished over many repetitions. Your presentation was dynamic and you presented your material well.

The investor asked you for a follow-on pitch or even possibly offered you a term sheet. Great! We won’t deal with those outcomes here. We’re going to talk about rejection.

The investor declines to invest and gives you a reason. Or worse…

This is an addendum to my article How To Win Influence and Friend People with a few specific actions you can take in building our your network and CV with the goal of getting a job.

Finding Job Openings

  • Find personal contacts in small companies you want to approach.
  • Big Companies: Google, Facebook, etc. all actively seek out great candidates all over the world, even in tough times. If you’re not able to get a position in the Valley with these companies, try local opportunities with them and you can more easily transfer after being there awhile and proving yourself…

In which we riff on Dale Carnegie’s title and offer tools for developing your social network and using your connections effectively, with special emphasis on ideas for new entrepreneurs.

Your startup has fabulous technology, methodology, and innovation. In this article, I’ll share a process to help you choose the best business to build from them.

In Part 1 of Finding Your Inner Purpose As A Startup, I discuss why a startup should select a single business area to apply its technology and focus its efforts solely on developing a business around that application. It should acquire domain and market expertise around it, market to clients in that space, and create a business model tailored to their needs.

In the previous article, I glossed over the prerequisite task — choosing…

DARPA has a 40 year track record of harnessing and managing transformative and large-scale innovation and doing so methodically and repeatedly.

George H. Heilmeier, who directed the agency from 1975 to 1977 posited a set of questions to evaluate proposals for large-scale projects, which came to be known as the “Heilmeier Catechism.” These questions are are well-suited to deliberating about startup efforts today, whether as an investor or as a funder, especially one who will spend years on those challenges.

Heilmeier’s questions were:

  1. What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
  2. How is it done…

“The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…”
— Baz Luhrman/Mary Schmich.

Advice is useful, but it’s not doctrine.

BTW: Art of the Start has moved to Substack; follow me there!

In my writings, I often discuss lessons I’ve learned during more than 30 years in Silicon Valley as a technologist, founder, and investor. Many of these have been hard won through struggle and failure. Hearing perspectives gained from experiences such as mine is valuable, but as its one person’s take…

“…then when everyone in the world is wearing even just one of our incredible shoes – the left or the right, it doesn’t matter(!) – we will be able to monetize information about how different buckets of individuals move through the physical world, track mass migrations, sell people stuff they want, alleviate human suffering, and become bigger than facebook.”

It is surprising how often I get pitched a business model which assumes penetration at huge scale has already happened. Surprising because it makes no sense early in a startup’s evolution to focus on what happens after a massive success of…

“Tell us about your exit strategy.”

As an entrepreneur pitching an investor, you’ll always get a question on your exit strategy. The question reflects a major VC risk assessment, is one of the most important questions you’ll be asked by a potential investor, yet many founders fail to address it convincingly.

Some egregious strike-outs I’ve seen include:

We are building this company for the long-run/to be huge.

We intend to take this all the way to IPO.

What we really care about is changing the world.

Google/Facebook will buy us.

This is an awesome business and we’re in no hurry to sell.

Lets unpack the question…

Most startups are created around a technology. To succeed as companies, they need to identify and validate a vertical in which to establish themselves. They have to choose whether to explore multiple possible applications of the technology simultaneously and opportunistically, or to go deep on a single target market. I’ll argue for the advantage of doing an initial broad-but-shallow, conceptual, exploration to find the most promising opportunity, and then focus development effort on only that market.

A Solution Looking for a Problem

Almost all of the startups I encounter as an investor and startup mentor are based on a technological…

This story was first published on Linkedin.

A founders’ vision of their product encompasses multitudes, and includes many features and capabilities, all integral to making it a glorious, seamless, and pleasing creation. The minimum viable product is a series of stable stepping stones helping establish and discover a path to achieving that ideal.

A product has to do many things to satisfy its customer. Much of what it will do is key, but much more will be ancillary, intended to make the experience complete, pleasant, easy, and integrated to the rest of the customer’s world.

A minimum viable product is…

Marc A/ Meyer

technologist, executive, investor, educator, executive coach

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