The Startup Founders Pitch Toolbox
Startup founders need to be Jacks or Jills of All Trades. They are visionaries, product designers, bookkeepers, and tech support representatives. But the single most important role of the founder is to be an effective communicator. And in the context of a startup, that means “storyteller”. The founder needs to paint a mind-picture of a grand future that doesn’t yet exist, helping the audience look at an embryo but see a unicorn.
In common parlance, that story is known as The Pitch. It can be used to pitch potential rock stars to join the team, potential customers to buy the product, or potential partners to sign Letters of Intent. But perhaps most important, the story is the basis of The Pitch to potential investors whose capital will fund the development and scaling of the founder’s vision.
What words you use, how long you go, what visuals supplement the story, and what form The Pitch takes, all depends on the context. You wouldn’t deliver your elevator pitch on video if you were inside an elevator, and you wouldn’t show an email pitch while standing on a competition stage. For that reason, seasoned founders have many different pitch tools in their toolboxes, ensuring that they are always ready to put their best foot forward with the appropriate version of the story.
A complete collection of startup pitch delivery tools would look something like this:
The Absolute Essentials (don’t leave home without them!)
- A one-sentence—or sentence fragment—tagline
- A logo for the company
- A physical business card
- A short paragraph email description
- A 30-second verbal elevator pitch
- A personal LinkedIn profile
- A short introductory PDF deck
- An 18-minute full, live, speaker-support presentation deck in PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi (with a backup in PowerPoint if you’re using one of the latter two)
The Really Good to Have (small investments pay off big)
- A publicly accessible, mobile-friendly web site
- A digital business card
- A business LinkedIn profile
- A personal Twitter handle
- A personal headshot
- A set of short founder bios (20, 100, 200, 500 words)
- A Calendly scheduling page
- An online meeting account (Zoom preferred) with a customized background
- An Instagram account
- A “one-pager” standardized company overview
- A five-minute “quick pitch” live presentation
- A filled-out Gust profile
What Serious Founders Have in Addition to All the Above
- A 60–90 second explainer/demo video
- A two-minute, high quality, self-contained, investor video pitch
- A two-page executive summary
- A detailed leave-behind PDF deck
- A spreadsheet of financial projections or, better yet, a full financial model
- A concise-but-comprehensive lean business plan
- An accurate Crunchbase profile
- An online media room with logos, headshots, bios, intros, product shots and b-roll
- A sales funnel tracker
- A live management/investor dashboard
- A complete online diligence deal room
That may sound like an intimidating list, but with all of those in your quiver and kept up to date, you will be ready for any eventuality. In practice, most founders start with the essentials and add the rest over time as they are needed, but making the effort to do everything before its needed is the smart way to handle it, and what most serial founders learn to do through painful experience.
This article is intended for informational purposes only, and doesn't constitute tax, accounting, or legal advice. Everyone's situation is different! For advice in light of your unique circumstances, consult a tax advisor, accountant, or lawyer.