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Healthtech November 10, 2021

Meet Dropmed: the healthtech startup transforming how caregivers and vendors do business

Dropmed is Sweden’s first online medical marketplace. We spoke to co-founder Sebastian Brieger to hear more about his growing healthtech startup and get his advice for other entrepreneurs shaking up the healthcare industry.

Dropmed’s “fabulous team portrait (AKA cheap selfie)”. A more glamourous photoshoot is currently on their list of to-dos.

Why does the healthcare industry need Dropmed?

Online marketplaces have become the norm in almost every other industry, but believe it or not, most medtech companies still don’t sell their products online. This means caregivers can’t find what they’re looking for without phoning and emailing medtech vendors to request quotes and comparing different companies manually. It’s a very traditional way of doing business which takes a lot of time – time that doctors and other healthcare professionals would much rather spend with their patients. Some webshops do exist, but they’re limited to one vendor. Our vision is to enable caregivers to make all of their purchases and manage communications with vendors in one place. We also want vendors to be able to automate everything in their sales process, both online and offline. 

Awesome! Tell us about the team behind this new medical marketplace. 

I studied engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and human-technology interaction in Holland. I’ve been working in the medtech industry for the last seven years, working closely with sales and caregivers. I met my co-founders Alexander and Ralph at the same time pretty randomly. I found Ralph through a marketplace for programmers, and it turned out he’d built something similar in the past but it never got finished so he was a perfect match for us. His background is in data science and AI, and he’s a very methodical, structured person which is really good for us. Alexander was also at KTH and has worked with startups for the last 10 years so he’s really good at growth hacking and that sort of stuff. We’ve been working together for about a year and a half now and we’re a great match for each other! 

What challenges have you faced so far?

Many! But I don’t really see them as challenges, more as a learning curve. I originally started the company with another team. At the beginning, I wanted to outsource the development of the platform but that didn’t really work out and I had to start over again. Then I found another CTO, but we just didn’t get along on a personal level.

There’s also challenges around how you choose to build a complex platform, as there’s so many routes you can take. You can build it as a service, from scratch or using a framework – and each has their own set of challenges. You can be limited by another system or limited by yourself if you choose to make everything from scratch – which can be difficult when you’re weighing up cost vs. time. It took a long time to figure out the best way to build Dropmed, but you just start somewhere and adapt as you go. I’ve actually had some really tough times with this project, as startups always do, but you can always overcome the problems. 

What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs? 

Finding the right people to work with is key to a successful startup. I really believe if you have the right team you can overcome anything. On the other hand, if you pursue your dreams and vision with the wrong team, it’s likely you’ll have to start from the beginning again. I wish I could’ve told myself to make sure I had the right team first, it would’ve saved me a lot of time! If you feel like you’re not compatible you should act on it pretty quickly. But even after creating the perfect team you still face challenges all the time. The only way to overcome them is to look at them objectively and find a solution. And remember that they only strengthen you as a person! 

From a product perspective, you really have to figure out the type of marketplace you want to build. Is it a product marketplace, a service marketplace, B2B or B2C? And what level of customization do you need? There are so many different types of marketplaces, and different technologies, you have to really understand what you need to build to make the right choice. This goes back to getting the right people on the team who can understand this – as it’s quite complex. 

What does a good team actually look like?

I think a good team involves people with very different competencies and personalities so you get different perspectives. You can also feel the team is right if you all seem to want the same thing and share the same vision. You have to respect each other’s boundaries too. I’m the kind of person who never sleeps and has no problem working until 11pm every night – I just can’t rest until something is done. But other people don’t want to do that so you need to make sure you understand each other’s work habits. 

Why did you want to work with healthtech?

I sort of just fell into the healthcare world but I love it! It’s a very stimulating industry that’s at the forefront of a lot of technologies. It’s also full of good people doing good things for others. One of my sisters is a doctor and one is a psychotherapist, and knowing I’m making their lives easier and helping others like them is really important to me. Generally, as a team we all like creating solutions that are valuable to the end user and we try to work iteratively with customers to develop what they need. The healthtech space is great if this is what drives you. 

What’s next for Dropmed? 

There’s lots of cool stuff going on! The platform is live and we have a fair amount of vendors, products and caregivers. Now we’re in a big growth stage and adding more products and functionalities to develop the platform in a way that the users really want. The more feedback we get – the better. We’re looking at some new interesting features (like adding a social component) so that caregivers and vendors can communicate directly with each other. We also want to introduce bulk management of large inventories to make it easier for larger vendors with many products. 

How have you found Sting so far? 

It’s an incredible program. There’s so much expertise and relevant opportunities on the table that you have to prioritize through. My advice would be to pick out three key things you want to improve on at Sting, but all of it’s for the taking really. The quality of support you get is also very high, so you get a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak. Surrounding yourself with other startups in the same space is also very motivating. But it’s really the vibe that I find the most exciting – often people don’t celebrate their wins enough, but at Sting you do! 

Would you like to learn more about Dropmed? 

Visit their website or reach out to Sebastian at sebastian.brieger@dropmed.se

Working with an innovative healthtech solution?

Apply to Sting now for your chance to join a community of inspiring entreprenuers and get access to a vast support ecosystem so you can make a bigger impact, faster.

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Insights November 2, 2021

Draknästet: lessons learned from pitching to the Swedish dragons

Adam Webb, founder of plastic-free lifestyle brand Lifelong, has wanted to pitch on Dragons’ Den (or Draknästet in Sweden) for years. Now it’s checked off his bucket list, he shares his experience and advice for other startups thinking about entering the dragon’s lair…

Hi Adam! Tell us about your company Lifelong. 

Lifelong is a plastic-free lifestyle brand currently selling hand wash, bodywash and shampoo products. We use a powder-to-liquid formula which is good for two reasons: it comes in a compostable paper-based pouch (getting rid of plastic), and because you mix the water into the products yourself at home we reduce transport emissions by 94%. We have other products in the pipeline too, like deodorant, facial cleanser and cleaning products. 

How did you end up on Draknästet?

I was a fan of Dragons’ Den for years in England and I’ve always said I’d be on it one day, but I never thought I’d be pitching on the Swedish version – in Swedish! I saw they were looking for companies so I contacted them. They’d already made their selection but I sent them our product, which they liked, so they squeezed us at the last minute. I had a week to prepare and learn a pitch in Swedish (even though I don’t speak Swedish) before the show so it was a bit intense. 

How would you describe the experience?

It was a bit stressful memorizing the pitch, but the great thing was I was allowed to take my daughter with me. I wanted to show that we’re building Lifelong to protect future generations from the plastic waste problem, so I tipped a bunch of plastic on the floor and asked her to pick it up – then explained that we can’t expect our children to tidy up our mess. Having her there made me much less nervous because I was more worried about her. It also made the experience way more pleasant, as it just turned into a fun day out for me and my daughter. 

Adam is ‘building a safer planet’ for his daughter Mabel.

So what’s it like pitching to the dragons? 

Weirdly, I actually preferred pitching to the dragons more than other investors. Because it’s in a TV studio, it doesn’t feel as real or as nerve-wracking. The dragons were also super friendly and polite, especially compared to the English dragons. They made me feel at ease which I really appreciated.  

What did you want to get out of it?

Seven months ago when the show was filmed I didn’t have much money in my business bank account and I needed an investment so I could buy more products and keep the company going. So I walked in wanting to get a dragon on board.

And…?

I managed to do it! I planned to ask for SEK 1 million for 10% of the company, but at the last minute SVT said the dragons weren’t investing a lot of money so I lowered it to SEK 700,000 – which may or may not have been a good idea. I managed to get Shervin Rezani onboard who agreed to SEK 700,000 for 20% of the business. I accepted the deal because I figured it’s better to own a smaller part of the company and keep it going then have no company at all. 

What do you think swayed them one way or the other? 

Another company pitched a cleaning product similar to ours which a couple of dragons invested in, so they probably didn’t want to invest in something too similar. For another dragon, I just don’t think it was his thing, and Shervin said he was investing mostly in me which was a nice thing to say. The world is also facing a huge plastic pollution problem and people are looking for sustainable alternatives that Lifelong can provide, which was probably another factor behind Shervin’s decision. 

What’s your advice for other startups thinking about going on the show?

Definitely do it, but make sure you manage your expectations on how much airtime your brand will actually get. I expected the chance to explain what our products are, why you should use them, and their benefits, but in the show they cut about 90% of my pitch out. Because it’s TV, they’ll focus more on entertaining, emotional moments like the dragons saying no, as opposed to your company. It’s sad because I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste in Sweden to help future generations and SVT is in a perfect position to get that message out but they didn’t really. Just remember it’s ultimately all about entertainment! If you can dial up the drama you’ll probably get a bigger segment. If I were to do it again, I’d probably challenge them and argue harder for why they should invest. But when the spotlights are on you, you can answer their questions a bit timidly and accept what they say instead of saying what you really think. 

And what about the investment side of things? 

You can spend two years building a company and creating something truly innovative, but when you really need an investment, you’re willing to give more away than you should and the dragons know that. I know they’re taking a risk too, but it’s usually a big percentage for a relatively small amount of money. If I started by offering 2% of the company they may have asked for 10%, but I went in with an honest figure in mind (10%) so to come back with an offer that doubled that was a bit of a kick in the balls. My advice would be: go in low and expect them to double the percentage. I’ve watched the program so many times that I know this happens, but at that point I really needed an investment so I accepted. 

So, did the deal go through? 

In the end, no. It can take months to do all of the necessary due diligence and get an official contract on the table, and by the time that happened, Lifelong’s situation had changed so much that it didn’t seem right to give away 20% of my company for such a small amount of money. Joining Sting was a huge booster for us thanks to the Propel Capital investment, which is SEK 500,000 in the form of a convertible note. We’ll use this money to drive the growth we need to raise a pre-seed round of hopefully SEK 2.5 million. If we had brought Shervin onboard at such a low valuation, it would’ve definitely made things much more complex when it came to future investments. I was still really happy to get an offer from him though, if I’d had five nos it would’ve hurt! 

Would you do it again? 

I’d definitely do the UK one so I could have a go at pitching in my native language. 

What’s next for Lifelong?

For the next six months we’re focusing on developing our product range and will launch our newest product, which is a deodorant. I’m super excited about this because it took a lot of testing to get it right. When we finally created a powdered deodorant that actually worked I started jumping up and down in my living room. It smells amazing! 

If you’d like to learn more about Lifelong, contact the team on hello@lifelong.eco

Ready to grow faster, smarter?

Lifelong is part of Sting’s Accelerator 2021 program. Find out more about how we support promising startups here.

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Insights October 28, 2021

‘The time to take urgent climate action was yesterday’ – Planboo Co-Founder Priya on building a sustaintech startup

Planboo Co-Founder Priya Bhullar talks to us about the challenges of building a sustaintech startup, greenwashing, and her advice for other entrepreneurs trying to tackle the climate crisis.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, Priya?

I grew up in the UK and moved to London to do a masters in environment and sustainable development, which is when I really started looking at how the climate crisis effects people and communities – especially the most marginalised. After that, I worked in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Zambia, offering essential support services to women and other underrepresented communities. But after six years, I got frustrated with the lack of opportunities to innovate. I met so many people with awesome ideas but due to red tape they wouldn’t go anywhere. It was about that time my now co-founder Freddie called me from India where he was planting bamboo wanting to pick my brain on sustainability and we started working on Planboo together.

Tell us about your startup Planboo

Planboo is a sustaintech company that rapidly captures CO2 from the atmosphere with bamboo – which is the fastest growing plant in the world (1 meter a day!). All plants capture CO2 from the atmosphere, but because Bamboo grows so fast, its carbon removal potential is huge. With Planboo, businesses can remove their emissions by purchasing our Carbon Dioxide removal credits. And as we saw in the recent IPCC report – the time to take urgent climate action was yesterday. Growing bamboo also gives many people living in the world’s poorest regions a steady source of income. Our vision is to connect these people to the carbon market, by providing the tools and training to generate bamboo biochar; a natural, 1000+ years form of carbon removal and storage, that can increase soil productivity and generate renewable electricity.

How important are these carbon credits?

Carbon credits should be available for businesses that firstly record and report all their emissions and then purchase them for the remaining emissions they cannot reduce. Carbon credits are rapidly going from a nice to have to a need to have. Soon, businesses won’t be applauded for doing this – they’ll be forced to. While there remains some skepticism (rightly so) around the efficacy and integrity of carbon credits to tackle the climate crisis, I believe that when well regulated, carbon credits have a critical role to play in climate action. The voluntary market is predicted to be worth over $50 billion by 2030, but today there simply aren’t enough high-quality carbon credits available. The world needs 10 billion tonnes per annum! With our transparent carbon removal credits, we can help meet this demand.

So how did you meet your co-founders?

In 2016, Freddie and Marc were in Sri Lanka building a bamboo hotel, and I’d just finished working on a post-earthquake reconstruction project in Nepal. I was pretty much on the brink of burnout, so I went to Sri Lanka for a break. I actually bumped into Freddie in the water surfing. We started chatting while waiting for a wave, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Planboo Co-Founders (left to right): Freddie Catlow, Priya Bhullar and Marc Hernandez Folguera

So you’re all first-time co-founders, how has that journey been?

Every day is like being in the classroom. It’s massively challenging, but I think the fact we’ve been friends for a while helps. We manage to balance our work and personal relationships by making sure we get outside and do fun things together too. We do a lot of things to keep that co-founder relationship positive, because until we grow our team, it’s just us three. That relationship is the core of what Planboo is.

What else has been challenging about building a startup in this space?

When we joined Sting, we were at a really early stage. We went through the climate startup action program before the accelerator program which helped us nail down our idea and business offering. Taking climate action is important for everyone, whether you’re a corporation, a consumer, or a government. So, we weren’t sure if we should be B2B, B2C or B2B2C etc. We’re all also super passionate and high-energy so we want to do everything. The challenge is figuring out where to focus your efforts at each point and developing a clear strategy, which Sting has really helped us with. We’re now settled on B2B as businesses are under both consumer and legislative pressure to act on their emissions and as a result we’ve been able to sign some amazing climate-conscious companies. 

What advice would you give to other startups tackling the climate crisis?

Just start. There are so many solutions out there that just jumped on a sustainability trend that we were all so conscious of greenwashing, which really held us back at the start. We didn’t want to put something out there that wasn’t a fully-fledged solution because we didn’t want to be accused of anything or judged. But during Sting’s startup climate action program we realized doing something was better than doing nothing at all – which is a great place to start from. We had to trust in ourselves that we’d figure the rest out if we lead with integrity and hold ourselves accountable. You must also open yourself up to having the conversation. I’ve had people at parties say to me, “you work in carbon offsetting, isn’t that greenwashing?” and my response is: good question, let’s talk about it. Keep listening, learning, and stay accountable, and move forward with your business bit by bit.

Working with an innovative sustaintech solution?

Apply to Sting now for your chance to join a community of like-minded entreprenuers and get access to a vast support ecosystem so you can make a bigger impact, faster.

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You’ve done a lot of work to try to support women in the past. What would you say to the other female entrepreneurs out there?

If you’ve got an idea – just go for it. I think many women feel held back from jumping into the startup/tech world, or at least I know I did for years. I never let myself believe I could do something like this. Taking the leap and going for it even though there’s not enough women in this space – especially women of color – is very empowering. You can also be a role model for women and other underrepresented people, which I believe has a real impact. It makes a huge difference when you meet another co-founder and they look like you. Talking women to women, or person of colour to person of colour really inspires me to keep pushing forward. Sting really pushes for female-founder teams which is super important, and the rest of us need to encourage and support each other. It’s a massive problem but these smaller, more tangible actions hopefully have a ripple effect.

What’s next for Planboo?

Sting’s accelerator program was a very intense learning curve, so over the summer we took some time to reflect and digest everything. Now, we’re back at it and are doubling down on sales, looking at raising an investment round and building our tech for the rest of 2021. We are currently on Climate KIC’s Carbon Removal Climate Accelerator which is an amazing opportunity for us to grow within the climate action community. Watch this space!

Would you like to learn more about Planboo? Contact the team at grow@planboo.com

Deeptech September 30, 2021

Building a deeptech startup: lessons from the trenches and Hofstadter’s law

Building a deeptech startup takes serious mettle. Here, Sting deeptech coach Raoul Stubbe shares his lessons learned and advice for people looking to commercialize advanced, cutting-edge technology.

What’s a deeptech startup in the first place, you might ask? Since this is the first part in a series of deeptech articles, here’s my own short and oversimplified definition:

A deeptech startup is a company that brings to market a superior solution, product, platform or service that’s 10x more effective than existing solutions. It must also solve an important SDG-related problem with novel, truly hard to copy, technology.

If you can tick that box, get in touch btw – I’d love to hear about it! So how is this different from building just any tech startup? Are there any special challenges for deeptech startups? You bet there is.

The important thing here is that the factor “10x superior” is enabled by a technological breakthrough. The factor 10x could in fact be 1.1x – as long as that’s enough to disrupt your target industry.

It’s already very hard to accomplish a technological breakthrough, of course, but using a technological breakthrough to sustainably create significant value for a large crowd of customers is typically much, much harder. This is also the reason for the 10x. If the technology doesn’t make a hell of a difference for the customer, then don’t even bother to build a startup around it.

What are the challenges then?

There are many, but the one I would like to highlight here is time.

Yes, time as in years, sometimes even decades.

If you are a tech nerd like me and born in the previous millennium, you may have read the book Gödel, Echer, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter. One of my favorite passages from the book is the one about Hofstadter’s law which says: “Everything takes longer than you think – even if you take Hofstadter’s law into consideration”.  

Yes, it’s worth a laugh, but when you’re building a deeptech startup, more often than not, this “law” feels like an understatement.

And it’s not just caused by all the hardships and negative surprises in product development and scaling your production, it’s also the time it takes to get your first customer to make the leap of faith to say yes.

Being the first customer to integrate an unproven, albeit 10x superior, and probably mission-critical component into their own offer takes a lot of guts.

This first, and super important step (especially when it comes to funding) takes much longer than your most pessimistic logical mind can imagine.  

Regardless of your superior specs, you’re always selling to a human in the end and earning her trust in this new crazy thing takes 10x the number of meetings, 10x the amount of testing, and 10x the amount of legal loops to jump through. So long before you get there, your team, your investors and your customer champions lose faith in you.

Giving up, are you?

Despite this, there are actually deep tech startups that succeed. So, what are the tricks that make the journey smoother, shorter and increase your chances of success?

  • Manage the expectations

Sure, you are 200 percent convinced that your product and your business model is a total no brainer for the customer, and that if you build it they will come. That actually happens now and then in our universe, but on earth it almost never happens.

Instead, you better leave your ego at home and bring your most pessimistic glasses when you make your plans forward. Assume, in every step of your development, financing and go to market plans, that Murphy and Hofstadter are on the same team, and that team unfortunately isn’t your team.

Then multiply that estimate with a factor of pi every time. Now, maybe, you have something realistic. And the good news is that every time Murphy and Hofstadter happen to be busy elsewhere, you come with a positive surprise. If you have something as great as you say, i.e. 10x superior, the time required will probably be worthwhile for you and your stakeholders, anyway. Now coming from an underdog position you can start underselling and overperform.

  • Remember that good enough is actually good enough

Yes, the potential of your technology perhaps allows for something even 50x superior. However, once you get to 10x or perhaps even 2x your offer may be good enough to make your first customers happy anyway. “Best” is often the enemy of good, and there are few things that steal more time than perfectionism.

Also, reality is too complex to just optimize in one dimension only. Very often 10x in one dimension means too late in a market context.

When a market is ready for a technology shift, it will not wait for the best technology, it will go for the one that is available and then shift again only once that technology is obviously obsolete.

  • Stick to the plan…and don’t

Some say that the fastest learner is the one that wins in the end. This is true but only half the truth. Unless you transform your learnings into revisions of plans and actions accordingly, you will neither increase your speed nor shorten the time to success. So, what about your carefully devised plan. Should we just throw it in the bin every time we learn something? Yes, and no! There is an important balance to strike here.

Teams and organizations need plans with goals, milestones, KPIs, and so on. Not only because they perform better but also because most people feel safer when they know what’s expected from them. Many will leave the company if you change plans every week. Hence, you need a leadership and a process that puts every learning into context and determines if the learning really mandates a change of plans. Sometimes it’s many small changes, but once in a while it’s a pivotal change. Most of the time the conclusion will be to stick to the plan.

  • Create a culture of taskforce operations

As I mentioned above, things never go completely according to plan. This is especially true when working with deeptech. Sometimes you even run into adversity so severe that it threatens to send your startup right into the graveyard of great ideas.

If this happens, you need all hands on deck! As a founder or leader you need to embrace the adversity as an opportunity and remind everyone that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In the startup world this is in fact true.

Brainstorm possible solutions or workarounds and design an appropriate taskforce to execute on the best ideas. When you are through the crises, you’ll have a much tighter team and a higher valuation too. Setting up taskforces create the necessary sense-of-urgency and also a feeling that the company acts adamantly whenever hardships arise.

Also, at times, your creative and superbright team comes up with an even better solution than the one you are working on. At least it looks like it at first glance. This is a very dangerous situation that can easily create conflict and divide your team. Again, the solution here is to create a taskforce. Let a handful people prove that the new idea is in fact so much better and easier and faster to implement and that you should replace the old with the new. Otherwise stick to the plan.

Finally, find and engage with champions, EARLY. What we mean by a champion is a person, usually working at your favorite (ideal) customer who’s gladly willing to try out new solutions and, if the trial is reasonably successful, willing to push (yes, they have to push a lot) your solution, product, platform, or service further into the customer’s internal evaluation process.

Unfortunately, deep tech startups often refrain from meeting with potential customers early, either because they are not yet happy themselves with the performance of their product (perfectionism) or because they are afraid of being dismissed as naïve and immature.

This bad strategy (or rather lack of strategy) puts everything back to front. Unless you’ve been the customer yourself, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to suss out all the intricacies of the problem, what the problem costs, who owns the problem, what the implications are for the customer’s customer, what the budget is, etc. from the outside.

The devil is really in the details here. Instead, you should hook up with potential customers as early as possible. Try to identify a problem owner that can act as your champion on the inside. Make them your partner in crime. Give them chance to become heroes in their own organization. By having a champion on the inside, you can fine tune your understanding of the problem you’re solving. You’ll get incredibly valuable feedback about what’s missing and what things really matter to the customer. More often than not, you’ll be surprised how much faster you may reach a value proposition that is good enough to make your customer happy.

Imagine just how much time it will save to skip all the features that you where planning to include that turned out to be just nice-to-haves! Not to mention how much time it would have taken to fix it if you missed a must-have.

Should I always work closely with my future customers? There is one exception, but that we’ll dive into that in the next chapter of this series.

In summary: Building a deep tech-based startup takes time, period. By being focused, customer-centric, efficient, happy with good enough, and managing expectations, you can, however, make the journey faster and more likely to end successfully. Bon voyage!

Raoul Stubbe

Raoul coaches deeptech companies.

raoul.stubbe@sting.co
070-655 27 74

Do you have an early-stage deeptech idea?

Book a free individual coaching session with Raoul now to get feedback on your business idea, test your pitch, or discuss how to solve a challenge that’s keeping you up at night.

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Insights August 18, 2021

5 stellar startup pitch presentations from high-growth companies

Creating a show-stopping startup pitch presentation is crucial. Here’s a definitive list of what you need to include and some world-class examples for inspiration.

If your startup is in its early stages and you’re thinking about raising money from business angels or VCs – you need a pitch deck. 

A pitch deck is a short presentation of your business idea designed to do one thing: grab the attention and interest of investors. It’s one of the most crucial tools you’ll ever use for growing your startup, and its quality will be a key determiner of your success. 

Typically, you’ll walk potential investors through your pitch presentation the first time you meet, but it’s not unusual for them to request a copy of your pitch deck in advance to decide if they’re interested in your business. 

And unfortunately for startups, the pressure to nail your pitch presentation is increasing. 

Why you need a show-stopping pitch presentation, now more than ever

The good news is, investors are busy. Global venture funding hit a record high in the first half of 2021, and in Europe, the amount of funding being raised by startups continues to grow significantly

But the number of pitch decks landing on investors desks is also rising – and as a result, they’re spending less time reviewing them. According to DocSend, that’s an average time of 2 minutes and 46 seconds (as of July 2021.) 

A thousand decks are made in San Francisco alone every day, and some sources say only one percent of pitch presentations actually win over investors and raise capital. 

Couple this with jam-packed calendars, zoom fatigue and increasing competition, and you’ve got yourself a sure-fire pitch deck panic. 

But never fear! Here’s a definitive list of what to include in your startup pitch presentation, some world-class examples, and the real secret to nailing any pitch. 

What to include in a startup pitch presentation

All pitch decks are unique, but there are some key things that all investors expect you to cover in your pitch deck:

  • The problem: describe what kind of problem your product or service is trying to address.
  • Your solution: explain how your business is going to solve the problem.
  • Market size: is the problem really “big enough” to invest in solving? 
  • The competition: what are your current or potential competitors? What makes you different from them? 
  • Business model: how will you make money? What’s your revenue model? 
  • Go-to-market strategy: how do you plan to find potential customers and engage with them? 
  • The team: without the right people onboard, you’re on a road to nowhere. Share who’s on your team, and why they specifically have the right experience and background to succeed
  • Financials: explain how much money you’re looking to raise and how you plan to use it. 

Depending on the stage of your business and how much investment you require, you can include more or less information in your pitch presentation.  But as a general rule of thumb, keep it to 15 pages or fewer. According to the same DocSend study, investors spend the most time studying the pages on financials, team and competition, so pay extra attention to finessing these slides. 

Want some feedback on your startup pitch? 

Book a free open coaching session with one of our Sting business coaches now.

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Startup pitch deck examples

For a clearer idea of how much information to include, review other pitches from startups who are/were in the same stage as you on their journey. You’ll find plenty of examples online, but here are some of our favourites.

  1. 👉 Karma’s seed pitch deck

Sting alumni and food waste startup Karma used this pitch deck to successfully raise a seed round worth EUR 3.2 million in 2017. This pitch deck is a great example of how to answer the most important questions succinctly (why, what, how, when and why) and grab your audience’s attention quickly (see slide 3). 

Key takeaway: these questions are the core building blocks of any story, so make sure you answer them. 

2. 👉 Y Combinator seed deck template  

This is a simple, downloadable template for companies looking to raise a seed round. Y Combinator is one of the most successful startup accelerators in Silicon Valley and has helped launch 2000+ companies. This template is extremely easy to use and mirrors the key bullet points we outlined above. 

Key takeaway: don’t overcomplicate your story. Always strive for clarity and concision.

3. 👉 Creandum’s series A deck template

As Europe’s leading early-stage capital venture firm, Creandum knows its way around a good pitch deck. This template has a more professional look and feel and will help you understand how to visualize your story. 

Key takeaway: use visual cues to bring your story to life and set the mood for your brand.

4. 👉 Facebook’s pitch deck (Spring 2004) 

Would this list be complete if we didn’t drop an F-bomb? Old but gold, this pitch presentation is a great example of how to communicate product traction and interest, even if you haven’t completely figured out how to make money yet…

Key takeaway: using metrics and stats that clearly demonstrate customer demand and interest in your product will help validate your idea.

5. 👉 Airbnb’s Angel round pitch deck 

Short but sweet, Airbnb’s pitch deck to angel investors outlines a problem and how the company solves it in an extremely simple way – allowing the audience to grasp the concept immediately. They’ve also managed to sum up their business model in eight words. 

Key takeaway: less is more. Spend time on finding the easiest way to explain what you do, and how you do it. Stress test ideas with your peers. 

The secret to nailing your pitch presentation

The most powerful tool when it comes to pitching isn’t your presentation, it’s you. Investors need to understand your vision, but you must let your passion and your people shine through.

Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, CEO & Co-founder, Karma, says: “Make sure that you have a good convincing case that you believe in. Don’t forget that you’re supposed to believe in the business when no one else does. Be enthusiastic but not ignorant, every model has its pros and cons and knowing your weaknesses and being able to convince others on how to solve them is sometimes just as impressive as good historical growth.”

Want more advice? Here are 16 startup pitching tips from our very own pitch coaches. 

Ready to grow faster, smarter? 

Sting is the number one startup accelerator in the Nordics. Over 19 years, we’ve coached 330+ startups, including companies like Karma, Sellpy, Airmee and Yubico. Explore our programs now to find out how we can help you accelerate business growth.

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Insights August 9, 2021

16 startup pitching tips every entrepreneur needs to hear

Startup pitching is an art form, and if you want to succeed, you must master it. Here, our expert coaches share their top tips for nailing your startup pitch.

So you’ve decided to pour your heart and soul into launching a startup? Wunderbar. This will probably be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. But, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It also involves coping with the ever-looming pressure to raise capital. 

To successfully drum up funding, you need to win over investors in short and increasingly virtual pitches, which, let’s face it, isn’t the most thrilling way to meet someone. 

But the good news is: with the right approach it’s perfectly possible to nail your startup pitch and secure that much-coveted second meeting. 

I asked Sting’s pitch coaches and the winners of our recent demo day pitch event for their most important pieces of advice when pitching to investors. Here’s what they said.

  1. Treat your first pitch like a teaser

Sting pitch coach Jenny Lindblad has 15 years’ experience as a pitch coach and startup mentor. She’s also a TEDx Moderator and has delivered over 5,000 presentations to top execs and investors in over 130 countries.

“The initial pitch should provide a teaser for every aspect of your business, not just the problem and your solution. It should touch on your vision, what drives you, your business model, what you’ve achieved so far, what’s next, and answer questions like ‘why now?’ and ‘why you?’. No one is going to invest after a first pitch – the whole purpose is to secure a second meeting,” explains Jenny. 

If there are too many outstanding questions, investors are much less likely to book that second meeting – so make sure you touch on each of these areas. 

2. Keep your vision tangible and simple

Jenny can’t stress enough how important it is to create a simple, tangible vision. Here’s an example: our vision is to help one billion people stop using plastic bags to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10%. It’s easy to understand and includes a tangible outcome. 

“Your vision should stay the same regardless of the audience, and people must be able to grasp it quickly,” says Jenny. 

If you’re struggling to define your company vision, start by thinking about what drives you. What makes you jump out of bed every morning? 

3. Never assume anything

The biggest mistake young startups make when pitching is making assumptions about what the audience knows (and doesn’t know). Never assume that the people you’re pitching to know what you’re talking about or understand the specifics of your industry, the problem you’re solving or your product. 

4. Accept that your product won’t sell itself 

Time for some tough love: your product will not sell itself. Unfortunately, a lot of first-time entrepreneurs think it will and under prepare for pitches. It’s good to be confident, but dangerous to be overconfident. If people don’t understand what you do, they won’t invest in your startup, regardless of how amazing it is. But, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably not going to make that mistake. 

5. Work out how to touch your audience – and do it fast 

Sting pitch coach Anette Andersson has worked with us since 2003. She’s helped hundreds of startups develop and sharpen their messaging to strengthen their pitch and successfully secure funding. 

“If you travel on the subway you’ll only remember the people who touched you in some way. They could have physically touched you, said something unusual, or looked like an ex-boyfriend. Whatever it is, they’ve made a memorable impression, and that’s exactly what you need to do when pitching your startup,” says Anette. 

“Investors pass on 94-98% of companies that pitch to them, so you have to find out how to touch your audience and do it quickly,” she explains. If you don’t, they’ll mentally check out. Think about who you’re meeting every time you pitch, what they know, what they want, and how you – or your business – relates to that. 

If you have a startup in the mental health space, for example, this is relatively easy, as we all know someone who’s been affected by mental health issues. But no matter what industry you’re in, think about what you have that’s special and how you can touch your audience with it. 

6. Sell your story, not your business 

Over 90% of pitch coaching at Sting focuses on content and storytelling. There are specific things you need to cover in your pitch deck (the problem, your solution, market size, competition, business model, go-to-market strategy, the team and financials), but the trick is to develop a story arc and use human narratives to keep your audience engaged and establish a connection. Investors are more interested in value and scaling possibilities than the exact technologies. 

How does the problem affect people day to day? If a person uses your product, what does it mean for them? How will it make their life better, or even the world? 

Johann Gross, Co-Founder of online referencing tool Citationsy (and Sting Demo Day pitch winner) and his team used storytelling during their pitch to secure meetings with investors.  

“Our product is a digital tool for academic referencing, so it’s not the sexiest of products. But during our last pitch, we talked less about the product itself, and more about the problem it solves for people, the benefits that it offers and explained how it worked in a very simple way. Then we focused on what we’ve already achieved and where we’re heading next – which built a success story and positioned our startup as a non-losing bet,” says Johann. 

Watch Citationsy’s Sting Demo Day pitch (24:05)

7. Think like a journalist

Like any good piece of journalism, your startup pitch should follow a logical order and keep people interested to the end.

“Just like a written article, you need a headline that grabs attention, then something that intrigues your audience further before you dive into the details,” says Anette. 

Try to structure your messaging in a logical way, with the most catchy information at the beginning. Essential information like who, what, where, why, when and how are core building blocks of any story. Make sure that you answer these questions in an order that makes sense for your audience.

It’s also important to make it clear what part of the story you’re telling now, so use visual queues like subheadings to signpost where you are. Just like an article, end with a strong conclusion and a clear call to action (more on that later). 

8. Challenge any preconceptions

What does the audience know, and what do they think they know that might be wrong? A good example is cryptocurrency. Initially, they were perceived as risky and highly volatile, and investors stayed well clear of them. But today that perception has shifted. If it’s common for people to have incorrect preconceptions of your industry or the work you do, you need to clear them up by sharing knowledge and facts. 

9. Save way more time for discussion 

In the past, it was common practice to leave ten minutes at the end of a meeting for questions, but Jenny has flipped this entirely. 

Now, she urges startups to dedicate five minutes to hellos, seven to 10 minutes for the pitch and a whopping 45-minutes for questions (this depends on the length of the meeting, but roughly 75% of it should be set aside for discussion). And this approach doesn’t just work for young companies. 

“I recently tried this format with a VC company that’s raising a huge fund. They used to present to potential investors for 45 minutes, but since cutting this down to 10 they’ve been having some fantastic discussions and seeing a much more positive response,” says Jenny. 

10. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes 

Know your audience. Who are they? What do they want? What other companies has your audience invested in? What potential questions would they have for you? Some tough ones include:

  • “If this is such a big problem, why has no one solved it yet?”
  • “What makes you uniquely positioned to solve this problem?” 
  • “Why did you decide to X….”
  • “Could you grow faster with more money?”

Listen back to your presentation and put yourself in their shoes. 

11. Don’t memorize your pitch word-for-word  

“You should know your pitch inside out, but not word-for-word. If you do, forgetting one word completely throws you off”, says Johann. When prepping for pitches, Johann walks around in his apartment in circles presenting the pitch out loud but without memorizing the words. This also helps him…

12. Practice body language and non-verbal communication 

According to many experts, only 7% of meaning is communicated verbally, with 38% coming through tone of voice and 55% through body language. 

“When we watched our pitch back, one of the things we realised was how stiff we were. It’s just as important to practice physical movement as what you’re going to say. You can really feel the energy and passion when someone makes the right moves too,” says Johann. 

Like any good public speaker, you should use physical movement to emphasize key messages and elicit emotion from the audience.

13. Put stage directions in your cue cards 

Another of Johann’s key tips is to use stage directions: “Writing reminders to pause and take a breath in our cue cards really helped us set a good pace and establish a rhythm”. 

This is particularly helpful if multiple people from your team are pitching, as you can assign names to different sections and include reminders to look at each other when appropriate. 

14. Walk the stage

If you’re pitching in person, it’s really important to practice walking on and off the stage beforehand. 

“When people haven’t practised walking upstairs onto a stage it usually throws them off. They either stop or end up looking like they’re walking in slow motion,” says Jenny. 

Walking the stage and being comfortable with the set-up beforehand also makes any last-minute changes easier to navigate. 

“I did a speech in Stockholm City Hall in front of 1,400 people on a round stage that was really shaky. I wore really high heels, but I practised the stairs over and over again to make sure I felt comfortable. At the last second, someone also pinched my props, but if you’re comfortable with your surroundings it’s easier to adapt to things like that,” shares Jenny. 

15. Remember to smile

When you smile, your body releases endorphins, which makes you feel happier and more relaxed. Research also suggests that people who smile appear more confident, and even more successful. 

“It’s amazing how many people forget to do this in the heat of the moment. My smile is always my secret weapon,” says Jenny. 

If you do stumble during your startup pitch, smiling is a great way to deflect it. No one will judge you too harshly if you stay cheerful and approachable. 

16. End with a call to action

What do you want to get out of your pitch? If an investor is interested, what’s the next step? Make it clear.

The secret to nailing your pitch presentation

Don’t forget that the most powerful tool when it comes to pitching isn’t your presentation, it’s you. Investors need to understand your vision, but you must let your passion and your people shine through.

Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, CEO & Co-founder, Karma, says: “Make sure that you have a good convincing case that you believe in. Don’t forget that you’re supposed to believe in the business when no one else does. Be enthusiastic but not ignorant, every model has its pros and cons and knowing your weaknesses and being able to convince others on how to solve them is sometimes just as impressive as good historical growth.”

Want some feedback on your startup pitch? 

Book a free open coaching session with one of our Sting business coaches now.

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Insights July 6, 2021

The state of startups: a letter from our founder

As we ease into summer, Sting Founder and CEO Pär Hedberg reflects on what’s changed in the startup world over the last year and what potentially lies ahead.

Startups showed incredible resilience during the pandemic

If I had to sum up how our startups handled the pandemic, I’d say with amazing resilience. When it hit, we were worried that a lot of them would face big problems, but thankfully that didn’t happen on a large scale. In 2020, companies in entertainment and travel naturally suffered, but as our latest figures show, the majority still delivered strong results. The pandemic was a catalyst for widespread industry digitalization, and as most of our startups are in tech, the pandemic’s impact has overall been limited. Best of all, most of the ones who were affected managed to survive and are beginning to bounce back (such as the artist booking platform Gigital).

Barriers to securing funding have lowered, and there’s plenty to go round

Getting first-line access to capital is easier than ever. Now that everyone uses Zoom, our startups are securing more and more meetings with investors – and it doesn’t matter if they’re in New York, London or Berlin. A natural side effect of this is that international investors are beginning to look further afield and scout more in the Nordics – which in turn increases competition among Swedish investors. The current supply of capital overall is also very good, and there’s a lot of money out there for hungry young startups (except for deeptech startups…).

New actors with deep pockets for deeptech

For a long time, deeptech companies have been overlooked by private actors like VCs and business angels. In both Sweden and other countries, it’s been hard for them to secure financing because they require a lot of money, they’re risky, and it takes a long time to see a return. But I’m incredibly happy to see this funding gap is narrowing down. We have seen new public funding possibilities in this pace, with the EU EIC initiative, and also several new private family funds entering.

Deeptech companies create solutions to big problems using complex technologies with long development times. Today, new actors are starting to make big ticket investments in deeptech technology, as they realize that once these solutions launch, they have the potential to transform entire industries. This is extremely positive – especially for our deeptech incubator companies. This fall, we’re also launching our new test drive program specifically for deeptech entrepreneurs in partnership with KTH. Keep an eye out for more info!

The way we view the world has changed

The pandemic has influenced the way we see the world both directly and indirectly. Of course, we’ve made obvious changes to our behaviors, but I think there’s also been a more subtle shift in our collective consciousness. We’re more aware of our planet’s vulnerabilities than ever before – and this is reflected in the type of startups we see applying for our programs, and where the money is being funneled. 

For instance, healthy living and climate change have become top of mind, and in the last two accelerator programs we’ve seen an increasing number of sustaintech, cleantech and healthtech startups apply. We proactively adapted to these cultural shifts by running specific programs to support startups in these areas, which were really successful.

Of course, the healthtech industry in particular is booming. The demand for digital solutions enabling quicker, more cost-effective access to care is still there – as demonstrated by the success of companies like KryMediCheck, health integrator, Care to Translate, and Mindmore. This will continue to be an interesting space for the next few years.

Final thoughts

At Sting, the pandemic has still made it challenging for us to deliver our services to the best of our ability. People are a huge part of our business, and what makes our offering so unique is comprehensive access to a qualified business coach, ad hoc support, networking events, and a close-knit community of entrepreneurs to bounce insights and learnings with. We will continue to use digital channels when it’s the best option, and of course stick to public regulations. But thankfully, things slowly feel like they’re getting back to normal – and I’m looking forward to giving our startups a truly world-class accelerator experience in person again and a dynamic, creative workspace.  

Pär Hedberg

Pär is the founder and CEO of Sting. He also coaches deeptech and sustaintech companies.

par.hedberg@sting.co
070-855 03 18

Insights June 15, 2021

3 must-dos to master the sales meeting

Sales is one of our biggest focus areas at Sting. During our startup programs you’ll be trained by industry experts who will help you improve your sales technique. Here, Sting Sales Coach Olof Berglund shares his top tips for closing more deals.

Olof Berglund, Sales Coach at Sting, has worked in marketing and sales for over 20 years in both startups and multinational pharma and medtech companies.

At Sting, you’ll learn to identify and respond to the behaviour and emotions of your customers so that you can move the conversation in the direction you desire.

“Sales and marketing are about influencing people, and it’s an enormously positive experience to influence people into buying a product. By using the right mix of marketing and sales tools in combination with training, most people can achieve success. I want to share my experiences so that you can succeed right from the start”, says Olof.

Here are his top three tips for mastering your startup sales meetings.

Applications to Sting are now open! Join Sting Accelerate in the fall. Learn more and apply today!

Olof’s top three tips:

1. Listen.
Many are prejudiced about how salespeople are and should be. There is, however, one important thing that the best sellers are extremely good at. Using their ears! You should listen to the customer. During the sales meeting, let the customer do the talking while you ask the appropriate questions that will create insight, a strong need and motivation to buy.

2. Identify the REAL problem.
Ask questions that help make your potential customer aware of a problem that needs to be solved and that creates a real pain in the customer’s daily life. Identifying not only the true pain points but also the cost of them will help accelerate a deal.

3. Do not defend yourself.
Know how to handle objections. Do not practice answers, but questions, to meet the most common objections your customer will have. By asking the right questions, let them solve their own doubts. Once all objections are handled, you will be ready to close the deal.

Sting’s sales training

The sales training is carried out several times a year and includes realistic role-plays that allow you to practice and make mistakes in the “classroom” rather than at an important, live sales meeting. These are some of the many critical things you will learn:

The practical exercise of a sales meetings and cold calls were excellent! Theory is good, but exercises and real experiences are much better.

Victor Gonzalez, Porkchop
  • How to create strong need within the customer. We will teach you what questions you should ask to make the customer truly understand their problem and how serious it is. The questions are open, powerful and motivating and create a will to remove that problem and a need to buy your solution.
  • How to handle objections. Another common reason why a deal does not happen is that the customer objects at the end of the pitch and the seller doesn’t really know what to say. We will teach you how to turn the objection into something positive that leads to a close.
  • How to close the deal! Without a strong closing technique, it can be extremely hard to finalize a sale. We teach you different ways to ask the right questions and close the deal, instead of asking for another follow-up meeting.
  • Cold calls. Yikes! This is one of the most difficult tasks in sales. How do you cold call a person you have never met before and make them not only stay on the line, but actually accept a meeting? We will teach you how to get those sales meetings into your calendar.
  • The sales cycle. What does the sales process look like for your particular customer? What are the different steps to get ahead at each stage so you can finally come to a close? You will learn how to set goals and what steps you should keep track of to speed up the sales process.

The best part was the practical takeaways – how to handle customer objections, for example. And the detailed overview of the question technique was great.

Karoly Szipka, iPercept

Got questions?

Get in touch!

Want to discuss your startup, test your pitch, or get input on a challenge you’re facing? Reach out to one of our startup coaches.

Olof Berglund

Olof coaches healthtech companies.

olof.berglund@sting.co
070-635 98 15

Insights May 13, 2021

How to find tech talent for your startup? Here’s a 7-step guide to help you succeed

When building your startup, there are A LOT of things to focus on. One of the most challenging – and most important – is to get the right team in place. Recruiting is not simple, especially if you’re looking for a co-founder or people with tech skills. Therefore, we have put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you succeed with your tech hiring.

Step 1: Why are you looking for a new team member? 

Start by asking yourself why you need another person. What should this individual help you achieve, let’s say, in the first six months? Is it a co-founding role or an employee you are looking for? It’s crucial to discuss and agree on this in your co-founding team before you start a hiring process.  

Step 2: Define the profile (and ask for help if you lack the tech skills)

When you have defined what your new team member will work on, ask yourself what kind of experience and knowledge you think you should be looking for. If you don’t have the tech skills yourself, try to find someone in your network that does and ask them to help you with this step.

To verify that everyone on the founding team is on the same page, a great tip is to put together a list of five profiles from LinkedIn and go through them one at a time and discuss if you consider them relevant or not. 

Step 3: Decide on a budget

Don’t forget to agree on your budget. What kind of salary (if any) are you able to offer? Maybe you can only offer equity to begin with until you have raised some money? The budget will have a big impact on which profiles will be relevant to you. (For more info on salary levels for tech profiles check Stack Overflow)

Step 4: Remote or not?

Remember, be careful not to define the profile and skills you are looking for too narrowly, then there is a big chance your talent pool gets very small and your chances for finding the right person get ridiculously small. Also, discuss if you need the person to work on-site or if you are open to broadening the search for people working remotely? This will expand your talent pool and give you more opportunities to find a great team member. There are a number of solutions today to make it easier to work with people located abroad, such as Deel and Omnipresent.

Book a free open coaching session

Want to discuss your startup, test your pitch, or get input on a challenge you’re facing? Book a confidential meeting with one of our experienced startup coaches now.

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Step 5: Stand out from the crowd

When you have defined what the person will be working on, the budget, and if you’re going to hire a remote candidate or not, it’s time to put together a great pitch for the role. What are the interesting challenges that this person will help you solve? And what makes your business idea something really special? Write a job ad that gets people inspired (make sure to check the language for bias to be able to capture more great candidates) and ask your network to help spread the word!

Step 6: Boost your own headhunting efforts

Unfortunately, the reality today is that many great developers are not actively looking for a job. They get approached by recruiters on a weekly basis who are trying to convince them to change jobs. However, don’t let this demotivate you, rather see it as an opportunity to stand out by doing the same.

Not many founders reach out to candidates and pitch their company and job opportunities themselves. If you spend some time reaching out to relevant candidates, you will be more likely to get some replies than if you hired a recruiter to do it for you. Yes, it means you need to spend some time on this, but in the long run, it will be more efficient than just putting out a job ad and hoping for the best.

In the early phases of your startup, finding the right person to join your team will have a huge impact on your chances to succeed in the long run!

Step 7: Once you’ve found the right personact quickly!

Think about how you would like the hiring process to look before you get started. For example, if you don’t have the tech skills in your current team, find someone who you could ask for a favor and help you with the tech skill evaluation.

Also, make sure that you don’t lose momentum when you have found an interesting candidate. Chances are high that they are talking with other companies simultaneously. Ask them what their time frame looks like! When it comes to putting together a hiring agreement, warrant agreement etc., a good source for templates is for example StartupTools


Hiring for your startup will be a skill that you can develop over time. At Sting, we support our startups with team development and talent acquisition support for free when participating in our programs. Last year alone, we helped our startups to find more than 50 new employees, among them being CTOs, full-stack devs and frontend devs.

Andreas Wennberg

Andreas is our head of talent management.

andreas.wennberg@sting.co
073-811 81 71

Sara Bjelkstam

Sara coaches our companies in team development.

sara.bjelkstam@sting.co

Financing March 19, 2021

Due diligence turned around: 67 questions to ask a potential investor

Google around and you’ll find an amazing amount of information on what questions a VC will ask to evaluate you. But let’s turn it around! Here are questions your investor should be ready to answer well if they’re a good fit for you.

Some business angels and most venture capital firms take an active role in running the startups they invest in. So, it’s important to make sure you’re a great fit for each other and agree on a strategic way forward.

Sometimes, the best option is just to take the money while it’s on the table, but if you have the luxury of choosing what investor/s to align yourself with, here are some great questions to ask them to learn who is the best fit for you and your company.

1. What experiences from your previous investments are most relevant to our company?

This question should give you information about the investor’s track record and if they have made investments in areas that are relevant to you.

2. How do you help the companies you invest in?

It’s important to look beyond the money and learn about what added value the investor will contribute with. Ask for specific examples that involves startups the investor has previously backed.

3. How much do you set aside for follow-on investments? For how many financing rounds do you typically follow-on?

This question should give you insights on the depth of the investor’s pockets and how they can support you in terms of funding over time.

4. When this company is worth $XB and we look back, what path do you think the company will have taken to get there?

This question will give you a sense of whether the investor fits in and shares the same vision for the company as you do. The same way a team shares the dreams of the founder/s, investors should, too. 

5. What’s your view of the industry sector we’re in?

The answer to this question will help you to better understand how the investor sees the competition in your field, how to navigate the sector, and how to think about its future. If the investor shows remarkable knowledge of your market, he or she could potentially be a great resource for your startup.

6. Who are some of the founders you have backed that I could talk to?

You don’t need to connect with the references, but it could be a good idea to ask and see what the answer is. Great investors will have great reviews, and not so great investors will be reluctant to supply you with names.

7. Are you interested in potentially investing in my company, and if so, what are the next steps?

Before the end of the meeting, make sure you ask this question. It will help you understand where you stand with the investor. There are so called “soft no’s” when the investor is vague. For example, if you get “keep me posted”, then you can assume he or she is not interested at this time. But, if the investor wants to set up a follow-up meeting or a call, this means there is interest.

Do you want more questions?

Download an additional “60 questions to ask VCs during the first meeting to assess fit”.

While they are aimed at VCs, many can easily be adjusted for business angels as well.