Freelancer logo How It Works Browse Jobs Log In Sign Up Post a Project
Find Jobs
Hire Freelancers
Get Ideas
About
Resources
How to come up with a great business idea

What a venture capitalist looks for in a startup pitch

We spoke to the managing partner of a VC firm about the sort of startup pitches that grab investors' attention. Here's what he said.
Nov 15, 2019 • 3 minute read
Cover Photo

A VC shares his insight on what makes for a compelling startup pitch

If you've got a great idea and want to get it funded, it's likely you're hoping for some help from a venture capitalist. But competition is fierce for VC funding, so how do you actually stand apart from the crowd?
Well, we talked to a VC to find out. Craig Blair is the founder and managing partner of AirTree Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Sydney, Australia. AirTree has helped fund successful startups like Canva and Prospa, and Craig spoke to us about what investors are looking for when founders pitch their ideas.
For Craig, having a quality pitch deck that checks all the business planning boxes simply isn't enough anymore. With competition heating up, more startups trying to enter the game and limited funds to go around, a well-thought-out business plan is simply table stakes.
"The playbooks now are well and truly written," Craig says. "It's now so formulaic that you see the same thing over and over again."
This isn't all bad, Craig says. The upside is that startup founders are putting much more thought into how they pitch their ideas.
"In terms of explaining a problem, why it matters and how they can solve it in a unique fashion and have a unique take on the problem, I think that's improved a ton," he says.
But a quality pitch won't close the deal. Craig says it comes down to the connection a founder has to the problem their startup is addressing.
"For every hundred companies we see, we'll invest in one of them. In that, I think we're no different from any other venture investor. But, the 99 other founders you're competing with now are equally as ambitious as you, and they've got the same playbook," he says.
"I think a genuine connection between the founder and the problem they're trying to solve, that's what we're looking for. If it's something you just woke up and thought, 'I can make money at this,' that generally doesn't end well. But if it's something where you can see why there's an inherent reason why you have a right to solve that problem, that you care deeply about the problem, that's something you can't make up through applying a playbook."
And, in spite of what some startup prognosticators have said, winning VC funding also doesn't solely rely on the experience and charisma of the founder, Craig says.
"This whole idea of, 'Is it the market, or is it the founder or is it the idea?' I think usually they coalesce. There are great founders who hone in on the right problem, [but] I think the most important determinant of success is timing. Is now the right time to solve that problem?"
Craig's advice to founders looking to put together a winning pitch for VCs is to consider all these elements in tandem.
"There are a few core elements. One is some sort of authentic connection between the problem and the founder. Another is a good reason why now is the time to solve that problem. Another is, ideally, some really interesting take on the product or solution that's novel and different. And then an idea of how you can triangulate towards a really big opportunity from what started out as a small pain point," he says.
Above all this, Craig urges founders to hone in on an idea they're passionate about. It's not enough to be novel, to have a good product or to identify a good market. Passion is indispensable, Craig says.
"It could be 10 or 20 years of the most productive parts of your career. You want to make sure you invest that in something you deeply care about. Don't make it up. Make sure it's something you care about."

Related Stories

Planning your startup
22 min read
Funding your startup
26 min read
Choosing the right structure for your startup
31 min read
Staffing your startup
24 min read
How to market your startup
31 min read

Stay Updated

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on topics that matter.
Thanks for subscribing! Keep an eye on your inbox for our next update.
The email address has already been subscribed.
Oops, something went wrong. Please try again. If the problem persists, please contact support with the following error information: Error Code:

Talk to one of our Technical Co-Pilots to help with your project

Get Help Now

Recommended Articles Just for You

Article Thumbnail How to build and launch a product in 6 foolproof steps
Launching a digital product like a web service or a mobile app can be scary. We'll show you the steps to success
18 min read
Article Thumbnail 4 tips to prevent startup failure
It takes guts, determination, and a healthy dose of wild optimism to attempt building a startup of your own
3 min read
Article Thumbnail 8 tools to boost your sales in 2019
By setting up a sales tech stack, you can streamline each phase of the sales process
6 min read
Article Thumbnail The best startup resources according to founders
These resources will help you run your startup most efficiently
8 min read
Registered Users Total Jobs Posted
Freelancer ® is a registered Trademark of Freelancer Technology Pty Limited (ACN 142 189 759) & Freelancer Online India Private Limited (CIN U93000HR2011FTC043854)
Copyright © 2022 Freelancer Technology Pty Limited (ACN 142 189 759)
There is no internet connection
Loading preview