Awesome People - Ep 43

Fundraising, pitch deck tips, building breakthroughs

Hi founders and fellow VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know—the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops wizzes— who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on a part-time basis.

Please meet Jason, Your Executive Fundraising Coach 😍

Jason is one of my favorite new Covid friends. He's a trusted advisor in the LA startup community and Silicon Valley Bank’s go-to-partner for executive coaching around fundraising. We’re currently living in the same Covid Commune 😂 and I can attest to how much the founders he works with love him (testimonials here!). 

Over the past 8 years, he’s worked as a VC at Greycroft, founded multiple startups, and advised dozens of companies. He’s helped companies raise over $100MM and raised seed funding twice as a startup CEO. Fun fact about Jason: while on a 6-month work project in Japan, he developed a love for Karaoke. Specifically, singing Disney songs, the only English songs available at many Karaoke Bars in Tokyo 🤗. 

Jason only works with a handful of founders 1:1 every year.  He spends the rest of his time hosting workshops, webinars and creating resources to help founders fundraise. 

He’s graciously opened up 10 free consultation sessions for the Awesome People community here.

If you’re:

  • preparing to fundraise

  • working on your fundraising narrative/deck

  • struggling in the middle of a raise

  • or need a thought partner around reaching the right investors

I highly recommend chatting with Jason here. He helps founders across stages and industries 🙏.

Jason graciously offered 3 fundraising tips 💸

Your deck needs to tell your unique story and answer 4 key questions 

Each company is different. Each story is different. Since decks are the slide-by-slide summary of your story, the perfect deck can’t be templated, no matter how many blog posts you read on the topic.

One question I get on deck often is, “How important is it for me to include a [vision / GTM / competition / why now / etc] slide? I read on John Doe’s blog it’s the most important slide in a pitch deck.”  

The answer is, well it depends. First ask, “Does it serve your story to include that slide?” If not, don’t just jam it in there because DocSend’s data said that 82.4% of the time it’s included (p.s. I love DocSend and its data). 

Your deck should answer these 4 things in ~10 slides and tell a soulful, compelling story. 

  1. What problem are you solving / What need are you filling

  2. How you’ll go about solving said problem

  3. Why this is a big opportunity

  4. Why you’re the team to do it

Hook investors by answering those 4 questions. It doesn’t matter what slides you use. Once they’re hooked, they’ll ask questions, provide feedback, and give you insights for your next version. Deckbuilding is iterative. 

Run a tight fundraising process in pursuit of calendar density

It’s no coincidence that many successful early-stage deals happen extremely fast. In these cases, founders get multiple investors to show interest in a deal at the same time. This amplifies their signal, making the deal “hot.” When investors sense other investors in the mix, they naturally show more interest.

Advice: To kick off your fundraise, follow these 3 steps to achieve calendar density:

  1. Choose a date at least 2 weeks in the future to kickoff your fundraise. In those 2 weeks, research VCs and see who in your network can make the intros. 

  2. Reach out to those connectors to see if they’re willing to make the intro. If they’re comfortable, have them make the intro on the date that you chose in #1 (and no sooner). This drives calendar density. 

  3. Project manage the intros! A day or two before your kickoff date, send an email to remind folks to make those intros. Send another email on the kickoff date. And if they haven’t made the intro 2 days after kickoff, remind them again!

Communicate with investors from a position of strength

An investor friend said it well, “Investors know what a founder who has options sounds like. Sound like that.”  

The first step is to believe your company is amazing and deserves to be funded. Once you’re mentally bought in, communicate with confidence and humility. The trick is to remind yourself that you’re not chasing money. The smart money is chasing you. 

This mindset shift allows you to interact with investors from a stronger, more confident place. It helps you avoid reaching and “overselling” (one of the most telling desperation signals for investors). Use less words. Be polite, but not deferential. Don’t be afraid to draw out a pass from a naysayer in order to spend more time with investors who get the vision.

Community-curated talent board in 48 hrs 🎉

Last week’s give/get talent experiment was a success! We have 30+ new awesome consultants, freelancers, and agencies to share with you. If you contributed to the talent list, we’ll send out the master list in the next 48 hours. If you haven’t contributed, and want access, respond to this email with: 

  1. The name of an awesome freelancer, consultant, or agency that you love working with

  2. Link to their online presence (LI, website)

  3. A few words about why you love them

Bonus points for multiple nominations. We’re better together! 

Want to speak at the talent accelerator 🤩? 

Our inaugural cohort for the talent accelerator starts Monday! We have alumni from Uber, Box, Spotify, Tesla, and lots of other cool startups. If you’re already consulting and making $100k+, we’d love to hear how you built your business. Speaking at the accelerator is a great opportunity to plug into the community and help fellow consultants (hello future referrals!). Who’s in 😀? Email me if you’re interested🙏!

That’s all for this week ✨!

Stay awesome, 

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People and Awesome People Ventures

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P.S. Introducing Floodgate’s Building Breakthrough Course 📈

Floodgate, one of my fav pre-seed and seed VC funds, is launching Building Breakthroughs, a new free online program focused on addressing the equity and access gap for Black and Latinx founders. In the course, founders and future-founders will learn everything from how to identify and test great ideas, achieve product-market fit, and grow intelligently. It’s the latest version of a course that they’ve been teaching for years. I’ve seen the content, sat in on a few sessions, and highly recommend applying. 

Students will get access to the full Floodgate team, engage with some legendary guest speakers (prior speakers include the co-founders of Twitch, Instagram, and Okta), and build a network of founders and investors in the Bay Area and across the country. This team is A+. 

Learn more here and apply by 9/20 if you'd like to get involved!

Most recent Awesome People 🙏

Nick - iOS Developer. Most recently, he built Watch DogBuzzfeed TastyPlayboy Coloring Book, and Nike SNKRS. He’s a big fan of motion design, specifically animations and transitions.

Kendall - Product Management and Gamification Expert. He’s worked with MicrosoftTencent, and Mya to launch products, design user flows, and scale engagement.

Vlad - Video Producer and Content Marketer. He’s worked with FastEaze, and Forgerock, to produce eye-popping content, plan affordable marketing campaigns, and supercharge user engagement strategies.

Let me know if you want intros to any of the people above and I’ll connect you!

❤️ ❤️ ❤️