Money Talks #6: The Seed 2.0
"Pete Townsend goes solo" would have been a better headline in the '70's, but our Pete takes the mic in this episode to unpack the realities and economics of funding pre-seed and seed-stage startups through the lens of Finn Murphy from Frontline Ventures in Dublin.
'Round about the same time that Pete Townsend was finishing a VC project in August 2019, there was something missing for him in the context of placing bets on pre-seed and seed-stage startups. Could you just "sprinkle the infield" and dole out half of a $10mn seed fund to the first 25-30 founders that fit your investment thesis? With the known odds of 1-2 venture capital home runs out of every 25-30 investments, something didn't fit with a venture capital strategy that expected anything less than a home run from every founder before investing in them. The experience of simulating the portfolio construction for an early-stage VC fund across four verticals, three partners, five venture partners, and a five-year investment period drove this home.
Conveniently, a blog post on pre-seed investing by Finn Murphy from Frontline Ventures in Dublin helped Pete to crystallize his thoughts and refine his own framework for helping founders craft their pitch. But it's about way more than a slide deck and a hockey stick, as founders need to truly believe in themselves and convince a whole bunch of people that they have the right vision, conveyance and hands-in-the-dirt determination to build a substantial and sustainable business. You need an audience first though, and you need a compelling story to draw that audience closer.
Beyond the framework that Pete covers in this episode and Finn's blog post, here's what he shares with founders to get them started on crafting their pitch and getting VC meetings:
- Episode 31 of The Full Ratchet show notes on Deconstructing the Elevator Pitch - published in 2015, but it's timeless, as it helps to craft a concise and impactful elevator pitch and a slidedeck that focuses on what matters. If you can build this pitch perfectly, not just in Powerpoint but as the 'story' of your business that you can live and breathe, you've got your first VC meeting.
- Examples of 18 startup pitch decks from names you should recognize, courtesy of Erika Desmond at Cirrus Insights. The early-stage decks are the most relevant, but the later-stage decks give you a good idea of the picture you need to paint in the VC's head of what your business can achieve.
- 16 Non-Obvious Fundraising Lessons on Pitching, courtesy of James Currier at NFX - read the blog post but also take the 20 minutes to watch the videos, as the vignettes really drive things home.
- Top 100 early-stage venture capital investors in Europe - it's not a perfect list, but it's a start. Do your homework first on the pre-seed vs. seed vs. Series A investments the VC has done to make sure you're a potential match for the VC's risk appetite and thesis. Golden rule: don't just cold-call/email, get a warm intro.