14 Steps to Take the ‘No Thanks’ out of Your Investor Pitch

‘No Thanks’ is the most common result of venture capital meetings

Sucks but it’s true. VCs are a lot like pro sports clubs. It costs them little to check out schools (incubators), sports camps (tech conferences), and the old fashioned newspaper. It’s in their interest to keep as many prospects on the radar scope as possible. But they will commit financially to an extremely lean percentage.


Do you have a project?

Get in touch with Launch Module Media if you’re working on a pitch or business development / marketing initiative. We’d like to hear from you.

So if you’ve got a startup . . .

and you’ve met an investor and she hears your 15-second pitch and says “Sounds great, let’s meet and take a look at your pitch deck” — good right?

Well, it’s better than “Sorry, not interested.” But it doesn’t mean a lot 99% of the time.

Startups in the early stage — pre-revenue, bootstrap, with some friends and family or angel capital — can benefit from some great advice from David Ehrenberg, Founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, excerpted here:

A Potential Investor Says ‘No’ To Your Startup — Now What?

You have done all of your homework. You researched the investor you are pitching. You properly prepared your financials. You practiced and perfected your presentation. Most importantly, you landed a coveted meeting with your target investor. After the meeting is over, the investor passes on your idea. What do you do?

I work with founders and entrepreneurs regularly to prepare them for fundraising. It’s not just about putting together a good elevator pitch. When it comes time for a meeting, founders should make sure their pitch deck is clear and succinct. They need to have the proper financial statements assembled. And finally, they need to speak competently and confidently about the future of their business.

But even with proper preparations and a killer presentation, you may not be able to convince your target to buy in. Read more at forbes.com.

But while this is a nice article for the post-‘No’ letdown and ‘Win or Learn’ set (where a loss is a learning moment, not a bad thing) — what about before the meeting? Did you really prep for it? How many rejections can your startup afford before the burn rate closes in and shuts you down?

Are there some things you can do to go in to an investor meet with a stronger fighting chance? Here are a few things to consider:

The Pitch Deck

1. Unless you are in Series A or later (~$2.5M+), keep it short. 10 content slides and a cover.

2. Google “investor pitch deck template.” Grab a few free blanks, example templates, real world decks like AirBnB’s. Read and examine them carefully. Then throw them in the garbage can.

3. From your research, construct a slide outline not exceeding 12 slides.

4. Work the narrative. Find market data. Work your vision statement or Big Idea. Make bold projections. Cite and support them as much as possible. Talk about your founding team. Talk about what they’ve done in the real world. What they will do in your startup in a projected simulation of the future — no one cares.

5. Hire a designer if you have a couple of few grand to spend. If you have $500, do the work yourself and take the team out for a strategy dinner instead.

The Meeting

6. Allow plenty of travel time. Arrive early. Keep the rhetorical chit chat to a minimum. (The writer of this post sucks at this.)

7. In advance of the meet, rehearse your pitch (using the deck as a guide, not a script) in front of your founding team and advisors.

8. Rehearse your pitch in front of friends and family.

9. Rehearse your pitch in front of 3 people who don’t like you and whom you don’t like. Our enemies teach us more than our friends.

10. Rehearse your pitch in front of 5 perfect strangers. Airports are perfect. You are allowed to buy drinks for persuasion but don’t give away equity points.

11. Dress well. If you wear shineable shoes, shine them. Or better yet have them shined. Do not forget to dress the edges.

12. Do your tech diligence. It’s better to show with nicely printed and bound decks than to waste precious minutes fracking about with laptops and overhead projection. Be cool. Be confident. Pursue an air of inevitability. Check your watch at the end. (You have another meeting scheduled). At the appointed time, leave at once.

The Book(s)

13. Read Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff.

14. There are legions of other startup books out there. Read them. Learn to treat your startup as a business, not a charity, from the outset. Do good with your coveted capital.

You are the new stock market. Get out there and save the world with your genius. The cure for global warming will be a startup. The space race is all startups all the way up. Drinking water for the Third World. Startups. You get the picture.



✍ Erik Johnson is the founder and director of Launch Module Media based in New York City.

Featured image via Shutterstock and select article content courtesy of forbes.com.

CAVU Venture Partners $160mm Fund Flying High with ‘Smart Money’ on CPG Startups

Launch Module Media Client CAVU Ventures have accelerated from concept to cruising altitude with clear skies ahead.

The Launch Module team produced an investor presentation for the CAVU Venture Partners $160mm fund in 2015 and we are amped to see these Consumer Packaged Goods industry experts driving healthy food and drink brands effectively to market.


Do you have a project?

Get in touch with Launch Module Media if you’re working on a pitch or business development / marketing initiative. We’d like to hear from you.

Following is some of the latest on CAVU Ventures’ action in the ‘challenger brands’ CPG space, kicking it off with a profile in Fortune:

Deep Eddy Vodka Founder Forms VC Firm with Former Coke Exec – Fortune


Last summer, Clayton Christopher wanted a new challenge. He had just sold his 5-year-old Deep Eddy Vodka business to a Kentucky distiller for nearly $400 million, and was still sitting on plenty of cash from his previous beverage venture—Sweet Leaf Tea Co., which had been acquired by Nestlé.

“I had been a pretty active independent investor in food and beverage brands for a while, and had started to think about having more of a formalized fund where I could have more say and influence,” says Christopher, who had originally launched Sweet Leaf Tea with the $14,000 he had in a savings account. “So I began brainstorming with Rohan and Brett.”

That would be Rohan Oza, a former Coca-Cola executive who went on to help build Vitaminwater, which later was acquired by Coca-Cola; and Brett Thomas, former managing member at investment firm Thematic Capital Partners. The pair had been talking on and off for several years about creating an investment platform for the consumer products market, but also felt that they needed a successful entrepreneur who would appeal to other entrepreneurs.

“We’ve nicknamed Brett ‘The Hunter’ because he goes out and sources the best deals,” explains Oza, who was profiled by Fortune in 2014. “In this case, his ‘deal’ was to bring me and Clayton together.” Read more at fortune.com.


Monica Watrous of Food Business News produced a great overview article here:

CAVU Venture Partners flying high – Food Business News

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Operators first, investors second. That’s the mantra of CAVU Venture Partners, a recently launched investment firm co-founded by three food and beverage industry veterans with a focus on better-for-you consumer brands. Investments have included Bai, Health-Ade Kombucha and Chef’s Cut Real Jerky. The name CAVU comes from a pilot’s term, “ceiling and visibility unlimited,” which means perfect flying conditions.

“What we look for is a passionate entrepreneur that has a learners’ mind-set versus a knower’s mind-set,” Mr. Christopher said. “Knowers scare me. Because I used to be one once, and they’re really dangerous to their business.”

“That’s really what we aspire to bring to our partners and the companies we invest in,” said Clayton Christopher, co-founder and partner of CAVU Venture Partners. “One of the things that I see too often is a lot of entrepreneurs are getting capital, but they’re not getting smart capital.” Read more at foodbusinessnews.net.


Even Beyoncé is in on the healthy CPG action as an investor:

Has Beyoncé discovered the next coconut water? – MarketWatch


The 20-time Grammy winner announced this week she is becoming a “meaningful” equity holder in a three-year-old startup that makes cold-pressed watermelon water called WTRMLN WTR. At a time when soda sales are declining while sales of bottled and flavored waters are exploding, it may turn out to be a smart business move for the former Pepsi spokeswoman. PEP, +0.38%.

Consumers in the U.S. are more health-conscious than before and willing to spend on healthy options, said Eric Penicka, a research analyst at Euromonitor International, a market-research firm.

Her latest venture seems like it’s positioned well. Sales of bottled flavored water grew more than 400% to $917.1 million in 2015 from $174.8 million in 2001, according to Euromonitor International, a market-research firm. Sales of regular bottled water are far higher: They grew 92% to $15.9 billion in 2015 from $8.3 billion in 2001, at the same time when the market for soda has shrunk. (WTRMLN WTR’s website states it doesn’t add any water to its product; the beverage is cold-pressed watermelon with some organic lemon juice). Read more at marketwatch.com.


Here’s what’s happening with some of CAVU Venture Partners portfolio brands on social. Beyoncé? Who knew?

Pitch, Meet, Close. Launch Module Media and the Art of Staying Out of the Way

So, in closing, here’s an example of three dynamic founders who could pretty much walk into a room and raise $100mm together. That was the objective when we began working on their investor pitch deck. Look at the track record. Feature past successes. Explore synergies. Keep things visually clean and simple. Refine and clarify the arguments for the capital raise. Deliver. A $100mm objective becomes $160mm, just like that. Snap.


✍ Erik Johnson is the founder and director of Launch Module Media based in New York City.

Images and select article content courtesy of fortune.com, foodbusinessnews.net, qualityassurancemag.com, twitter.com.