Stop dreaming, show the digits: how to pitch the startup properly

Recently, the American venture capitalist Marvin Liao visited Lift99, a Ukrainian startup community in Kyiv, to share several crucial tips about entrepreneurs’ most exciting question — how to pitch the startup properly for investors to support it?

Mr. Liao spent the last six years as a Partner at 500 Startup, a worldwide Seed Venture Capital firm based in Silicon Valley, which provided the development of Reddit, Canva, and hundreds of other smaller-scale services and media. During his tenure, Marvin invested in over 400 startups, including fintech, digital health, adtech, and other industries.

Such circumstances make him extremely qualified to judge how an entrepreneur’s ideas should look like if they want to attract a venture capitalist with a big fat wallet. That’s why the Lift99 community couldn’t miss the opportunity to invite Marvin to roast a few Ukrainian startups who were brave enough to face wise advice and ruthless criticism.

So, here is the triad of the most crucial Marvin’s conclusions.

Advice 1: F*ck broad presentation

You may create the most beautiful presentation with dozens of complicated motion graphics elements and a wide range of infographics with meaningless digits about the country’s population and economic indicators; however, it does not make any sense if you miss crucial pieces of information about your target group, monetization system, range of prices, etc. 

Remember that you have only a few minutes to impress investors, so exclude all broad, insignificant, and well-known facts that spend priceless seconds of your speech. 

Advice 2: Stop dreaming, show me the digits

It’s great that you have far-reaching, ambitious plans for your project, and your head is full of brilliant ideas that you want to share with everyone, but keep it to yourself, okay? 

Investors do not give a fig who you are and what your passions are — they want to hear how exactly their money would work and which improvements will help you to gain more money. You should offer particular ideas with obvious and transparent conditions, benefits, and risks. 

Advice 3: Crypto? Explain yourself, sir

In the case your startup works with some hi-tech stuff like cryptocurrencies and NFTs, that, for most venture capitalists, logically sounds risky and incomprehensible, you have to specify your sources. Why should they trust your coin? Is there any guarantee of profitability, or at least that you will not waste 100 grand on some pictures that you will not be able to sell in the future? 

If you choose the way of crypto, you should be prepared for these questions and, perhaps, more importantly, be sure that your idea is feasible and relevant to explain in detail why it should work.

When someone in the audience asked Marvin about the formula of successful self-development, his answer was simple and exhaustive: to change yourself — you should change your environment:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So you wanna get great? You gotta go where the best people are,”

Marvin Liao said.

Author: Serhii Zhelieznikov