💸 YC's Founder Tips to Nail Your Startup Pitch
Most demo days are boring and a waste of time. Today's newsletter shows founders and accelerators how to stand out
☀️ Good Morning, this is Napkin Notes: the founder newsletter that serves as a mentor, counsellor and angel investor all in one. Got a demo day talk you’re nervous for? Hit reply and we’re happy to help.
We had Selena’s back when she DM’d us last Wednesday.
Our Menu For Today 🍽
🗞 News round-up for readers on vacay
💸 Meet Dealroom: the latest demo day tool to help accelerators
💭 YC’s 5 pitching tips for founders
💡 Latest Startup ideas to build
🐦 Laugh of the Week
📰 News Round-Up: Arm went public. TikTok Music is on the rise. Goldman’s requesting staff in the office 5 days/week. A web version of Threads is coming. Mortgage rates hit the highest point since 2000. SF finally got an Ikea. T-7 days until September. And a subtle reminder to be kind to the parent-preneurs this week. Kids are heading back to school next week.
Let’s head to our deep dive, shall we? Put on your goggles and hold your breath. 🤿
Meet Dealroom: The Newest Demo Day Platform to Help Accelerators & Incubators
Ok, we've been low-key obsessing over this for the last few months, and we’re finallyyyyy ready to let the cat outta the bag. Introducing Dealroom: a new demo day platform to help accelerators, incubators and platform VCs.
Here’s the thing: Most demo days are boring, unproductive and a waste of time. This makes it bad for:
the founders that pitch,
the investors that watch and
the accelerator that hosts
It’s a lose-lose-lose. Dealroom’s gonna shake this up.
Our new demo day platform lets
founders give punchy pitches,
in front of thousands of investors
so that founders can close their fundraising rounds 10x quicker
And it makes the accelerator brand hosting the big event look like a boss. Wanna give it a try? Toss your name in to try it out.
There’s ~10,000 accelerators in the world and they’re all duck-taping a mix of zoom webinars, Google Sheets and random email tools for their demo days. It sucks and it needs to change.
Dealroom’s the best solution on the market to do that. Hit the button below to request a meeting and snag a first look.
Now onto some world-class pitching advice.
💸 YC’s Tips For The Best Startup Pitch
Before the dawn of man, when humans didn’t yet have access to iPhones, Starbucks mobile orders or addicting TikTok dances, the world saw its first demo day.
The year was 2005 and 8 companies at YC showed off their big ideas to an audience of 15 investors. The idea was powerful and caught on like wildfire. Brands started hosting demo days all over the globe.
Fast forward to today, millions of founders are pitching their startup ideas every single year through virtual demo days, in-person pitch-offs, website pitch portals and SF lunch meetings.
Today we wanna break down the top tips YC advises founders add to their toolbox to wow investors. Top your coffee up and let’s jump in.
1. The best presenters build a compelling story arc into their pitch
One of the Partners at YC, Geoff, writes, “Most listeners will remember – at most – 3 or 4 key points from a presentation they have just heard, especially if it is one presentation out of many. The vertebrae of a presentation are those points.” The key questions if you wanna save them are:
What are we building and for whom?
Why hasn’t this been done before?
Why is it hard to do what we are doing?
Why is this an opportunity not to be missed?
If you can answer those in your pitch, you’re sure to build a compelling arc.
2. The best presenters are captivating, informative, provocative, and funny
Geoff tells founders: “A presentation that [makes] a company impossible to ignore is most likely to get you that next meeting and a chance to close a deal.”
He expands by saying, if the presentation “actually instills fear in investors that missing this opportunity might mean missing the next Airbnb”, you’ll be sure to grab their attention.
If you can build a healthy level of FOMO AND back it up with data, your pitch will be in the top 1 percentile.
3. The best presenters have slides that accompany their story vs. dominate it
Geoff writes: “The most important part of your presentation is the story you tell. The slides accompany and enhance your story, but should never dominate. They are the supporting cast. Work on your story and then build slides that support that story.”
Keep your slides stupid simple
Remember humans cannot read your slide AND listen to your voice at the same time. It’s one or the other.
Save Kevin Hale’s how to design better slides if you wanna nerd out on this topic
4. The best presenters tell stories about their users
Paul Graham writes, “it's good if you can talk about problems specific users have and how you solve them.” Another Sequoia investor, Greg Mcadoo, says their team looks for:
"proxy for demand." What are people doing now, using inadequate tools, that shows they need what you're making?
Paul also says “The best stories about user needs are about your own. A remarkable number of famous startups grew out of some need the founders had: Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google.”
5. The best presenters make sound bites stick in listeners’ heads
Investors hear 100s of pitches a month. So what’s gonna make yours worth remembering?
Create a sound bite to cut through the noise. Repeat it 4x during your slides.
Uber for X, Airbnb for Y or Shark Tank meets Twitch are all common examples. Here’s how you do it:
at the beginning of your talk
insert a couple catch-phrases investors can remember
like “X for Y”, “X meets Y” or something else that rolls off the tongue
repeat it 4 times to have it stick
Paul says “It's a good exercise for [founders], too, to sit down and try to figure out how to describe your startup in one compelling phrase. If you can't, your plans may not be sufficiently focused.”
So what are you waiting for? Now you know what it takes to crush a startup pitch, go request a demo and rock the stage at our next event.
🚀 Startup Ideas of the Week
🍷 Laugh of the Day
Founders after they sign their biggest angel investor of the year
💚 The Kernal Fam
P.S. You’re awesome, thanks for reading our newsletter.