What I Wish I Knew Before Pitching LinkedIn to VCs, by Reid Hoffman
Jared Sperli stashed this in startup
And so today I’ve published LinkedIn’s Series B deck on my personal website. There are three thematic emphases:
- how entrepreneurs should approach the pitching process
- the evolution of LinkedIn as a company
- the consumer internet landscape in 2004 vs. today
To help you figure out what aspects of the pitching process you’d like to understand better, I’ve summarized seven prevalent myths below, which I address more deeply in the full presentation.
Of his seven points, this is the most valuable one:
MYTH: If your team is strong, show the team slide early in your pitch.
TRUTH: Open your pitch with the investment thesis.
You have the most attention from investors in the first 60 seconds of your pitch, so how you begin is incredibly important. Most entrepreneurs start with a slide on the team. The team behind your idea is critical, but don’t open with that. Instead, open with what the investors have to believe in order to want to want to be shareholders in your company -- the investment thesis.
Your first slide should articulate the investment thesis in generally 3 to 8 bullet points. Then, spend the rest of the pitch backing up those claims and increasing investors’ confidence in your investment thesis -- which includes background on the team. Clearly articulate your investment thesis so investors can offer feedback that helps you refine it, eventually getting to a place where you both agree on it.
This advice applies to seed funding rounds, too. Yes, seed investors understand that early stage companies have many unknowns and the idea will change a lot, so they look carefully at the people to see whether the team will be able to adapt. But even at this stage, lead with your overall investment thesis. Persuade investors your investment thesis is intriguing, then show who can make it happen.
Explicitly identify the one to three risks that could thwart your success and how you will mitigate them.