Checklist for a Perfect VC Pitch

Several months ago I posted a form I use for grading VC presentations. I still use it. But last week I was watching some demo day pitches with the Founderfuel teams as we prepare for our own demo day on November 8. We watched some kick ass presentations from companies that have gone on to raise serious $.  As I watching them I jotted down a checklist of what made them great. In a word: clarity. All the key elements were clearly and succinctly laid out.

So without further ado, here’s my checklist:


– Problem statement: A specific value proposition. Nothing airy or unclear.

– Personalized. Personalize the problem down to an individual user so we can picture it clearly.

– Evidence of domain experience: Establish personal credibility upfront by showing your deep understanding of the problem/ market.

– Target customer: You know which segment you are going after first and how to get to it.

– Product snapshot: As soon as possible, start showing the actual product. Never do it live. Video is best.

– Vision statement: Where do you want to take this business? The bigger the goals, the better!

– Ask: I know exactly how much you want to raise and what you plan to achieve with that money.

Other elements of a great pitch: (Not all may apply to your situation)

– Disruption: Show how you will disrupt an existing, sleepy, and large market.

– Never read your slides. Ideally have little or no actual text (note, I often recommend having a 2nd version of the deck with more text that you use as a leave behind with investors).

– Business model: A clear description of how you will make money, even if that won’t actually happen for some time.

– Pace: Clear evidence that your company is moving quickly and that as an investor, I had better get on board now or I’ll miss the boat. Nothing speaks louder than traction.

– Depth of content: Having been to a number of Techstars demo days I can assure they cram a lot of content into a 10 minute presentation. You need to find the right balance between not overwhelming people with info while at the same time making it clear you have thought things through.

– Humour works.

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  • @Suresh_Bhat

    awesome post Mark – you're bang on

  • @SmartSoftMarket

    There are many checklists for startup pitches around but this is one of the clearest and most straightforward.

    When you're advising people to be clear and simple, it helps if you're being clear and simple yourself.

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  • Armand Konan

    Good. About the "Product snapshot", it should really focus on the 1 or 2 features that defines the product/service and how they set it apart from the competition. It should not be a detailed product description but rather a presentation of good and descriptive use case. Investors want to see the potential here. People don't always understand that…

    • Mark MacLeod

      Definitely agree with that