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Pitching your early stage startup (stripe.com)
185 points by janhenr 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

Another great piece from Patrick, full of specific advice and grounded in several places with “and here’s the one non-obvious additional tidbit that will drive the point home for you most helpfully”.

Only minor addition I’d make is in the section on Fermi estimation of market size is to end that with a warning something like “but resist the temptation to say ‘and even if we only get 1% of that huge market, we’ll still be a success!’” You might be permanently viable and profitable (success for you perhaps), but getting 1% is harder than you think and is not a success case for a VC. But it’s super-tempting and common thought pattern. What you’re pitching and thinking of as an exciting modest success is another failure that the VC has to wind down and exit from.

You might be OK with that outcome, but portray that you’re single-mindedly going after 70+% of that market. If the investor wants to calculate what 1% of it is on their own, they can in their head; you don’t need to connect those dots for them and put the fallback/safety case in their mind. (It’s not entirely omitted, but I’d make it explicit as I’ve gone down this road myself.)

Won a pitch contest a while back with this cheeky presentation that aligns with the advice in the article: https://www.slideshare.net/guard0g/deeprem

That was a fun presentation - I now want a tool which does that for me, but does it for everything: documents on my computer, files saved to cloud storage, lists written in notebooks, etc.

I started working on a personal project a couple of weeks ago that might, one day, become something that could be a nice little pension if enough people paid to use it. As I was reading through the article I started to wonder: how could I pitch this to people in just a couple of sentences?

It was an interesting exercise - the best I've managed to come up with is: "My product is a browser-based, collaborative tool for creating canvas animations, infographics and videos. It is NOT an Adobe Animator or After Effects clone, but those programs are an inspiration for the things I want my tool to be able to do."

I found a related tool a while back that I've wanted to try and integrate, as soon as I get into the habit of making more notes & such:


I guess my ideal tool would be able to recognize the different "contexts" that I'm in, and build a searchable, tagged timeline of my browsing and googling and work history in each of these contexts. Provide the capability to cross-link with notes in an athens/roam-like fashion and it'd be gold

I LOVE the “Act 1” concept. I’m going to borrow this ;)

This content makes for a compelling aside to Pitching Hacks book by Angel List: https://web.archive.org/web/20120227074613/https://ventureha...

See also: https://startupclass.samaltman.com/lists/readings/

1. You have to be something already

2. You have to have made a successful project already

3. If none of the above, try to demonstrate that you're really smart anyway

Give great advice : be succint

Half kidding, the post is by @patio11 btw.

Sensible advice, but my thought is that what everyone really needs is practice. What's the standard way to find a bunch of people willing to listen to a pitch?

Join your local Toastmasters group. Search for entrepreneur focused dev meetups (we had an “unconference” in my area where you could give a speech on any topic) or the age old friends and family party now please listen to and critique my 20 minute pitch.

Attend pitch competitions. Don't take them seriously, just get the reps in and you'll be ready when it counts.

Also, share your idea whenever you can with whoever you can. You'll generate signal over time.

Interesting that these were the four types of businesses called out:

1 - B2B SaaS sold on the low-touch model, like Basecamp

2 - B2B SaaS sold on a high-touch model, like Salesforce

3 - Mobile apps

4 - Ad-supported websites

What happened to B2C website where the C actually pays the B for a service?

Nothing happened, aside the fact the most people can count on 2 hands the number of B2C consumer services they pay for on a monthly basis. And half of them are probably streaming services.

It's really difficult to get a high volume of people to pay small amounts of money in a sustainable manner.

My friend and I have been somewhat succesful in this with our website:


We watch for campsite cancellations and email/text you when they become available.

That's really great content compared to the low quality blog posts of strangers that we are used to seeing here. The guy has an impressive track of records, and give no bullshit non-survivor bias insights.

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