The Perfect Pitch

  • By TLV Partners
  • 04 Nov, 2015

Useful Tips on Pitching to VCs

Pitching to VCs is much more than just going over a presentation. Your presentation can help you better articulate yourself, but even the best presentation can’t compensate for interpersonal mistakes. One of the common mistakes founders make in the first pitch is to cover as many aspects of their business as possible, instead of focusing on a small set of the best selling points. The purpose of the first pitch is to ignite interest and to convince the VCs it is worthwhile to start a due diligence process. You will have enough time to go over all aspects of your business if successful.


Some Do’s and Don'ts of Pitching to VCs:


  • The presentation should be short and clear. The VC is trying to digest the main aspects of your business in a short timeframe, not to become an expert in your technology or market.

  • Don’t come alone, VCs don't like sole founders. They look at it as a sign that the Founder is either failing to attract talent or afraid of strong people around him/her.

  • The team is one of the strongest selling points you have, assemble top notch professionals and let them present some of the slides. It is extremely unattractive to have the CEO present while the other team members sit quietly during the whole meeting.

  • Solve your team conflicts before you start fundraising, and never reveal them during your pitch.

  • Invest time in sizing your market. As a rule of thumb, the VC is looking for companies that have the potential toexceed$1B in value in a few years. We are looking for a market size of at least $700M-$800M, so come prepared with all the necessary data to prove your market size. Your ability to find the correct data and do the math right is also being assessed.

  • Validate your market - you don't need millions of dollars in your bank account to call potential customers and set validation meetings. Fundraise after you have at least 5-6 potential customers who are willing to talk to VCs and be your design partners.

  • Prepare a prototype to demonstrate your product. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; a demo is worth a million.

  • Surprisingly enough, most investors will spend a lot of the time on your projected financials even though everyone understands that Excel can tolerate any assumption. It is important that you look at comparables in your industry and fully understand revenue growths, expected costs and all business model assumptions.

  • Do some basic research on the VC and their portfolio before you set a meeting. Discovering ten minutes into the meeting that the VC just invested in your direct competitor is frustrating and embarrassing.

  • Don’t become defensive. The VC may ask you some tough questions or argue with your assumptions. Dealing calmly with the challenge will impress the VC; becoming defensive will end the meeting promptly.

  • Come to the meeting open minded and be prepared to learn. VCs usually invest in one out of every 100 companies they asses. You can benefit from the meeting even if you don’t get the funding.

  • Regarding valuations - how much you should aim to raise and how to deal with the valuation negotiation - the best advice here is to follow the norm, which may change with market conditions. For example, if good A round companies in 2015 are raising an average of $4m-$5m for 33% of the company, you will need a good reason why you are raising only $2M, or $8M, or why your valuation is much lower or higher. Unless you have a good reason, you will be viewed as either desperate or out of touch with reality.

  • Last advice - unless you have a clear indication that you are about to receive a term sheet from other VCs, try not to share too much information. You can safely assume that the VCs all know each other and will share information with one another. 


Feel free to ask us questions, we are happy to help.

Good Luck!

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TLV Partners Blog

By TLV Partners 26 Jul, 2017
There is no simple solution for all potential conflicts in your startup.
But you can encourage your investors to collaborate by giving them veto rights as a group. Avoid giving veto rights to a single investor.  
By TLV Partners 14 Jun, 2017

There is a common belief that participating preferred is always better for investors.


Here’s a brief overview of the various liquidation preferences investors may ask for. Liquidation preferences determine how to divide the proceeds from the exit.

  • Pro-rata distribution: Each shareholder receives their percentage in the company.  i.e. - shareholders that hold 20% receive $20M in an exit of $100M, 20%x$100M=$20M).

  • Non-participating preferred:  The investors receive their money back OR pro-rata distribution. Whichever yields more money to the investor.

  • 1x participating preferred: The investor get their money AND pro-rata distribution. This is often referred to as “double dipping”.

  • 2x+ participating preferred: The investor get 2x on their money AND pro-rata distribution.  In some cases, investors ask for a higher multiple - 3x-5x.

  • Interest: Investors often ask for annual interest of 4-8% on their investment.


VCs have one common goal - they all aim to increase shareholder's value. Many Israeli entrepreneurs share this dream as they want to build long-lasting companies. This alignment of interests makes sure everyone is working to achieve the same goal.

Yet, participating preferred creates an inherent misalignment of interest between VCs and entrepreneurs.

Take for example an entrepreneur who faces a decision whether to sell the company now for $150m. His investors agree that the company’s potential could be much higher in 2-3 years. But the company would have to raise another $20M to reach said potential. Luckily, there is a late stage investor who is eager to invest in the company at a reasonable valuation. The decision should be simple -  a good opportunity to increase the value at a reasonable price. But here is where the participating preferred misalignment kicks in. The entrepreneur, upon an exit, will have to pay back an extra $20m plus interest before seeing any profits. Not to mention the fact that he/she will be further diluted. VCs are professional investors and part of their job description is to take risks. Entrepreneurs are dreamers that dedicate their life to build companies. Some entrepreneurs at this point will decide to sell the company and reduce their personal risk. The investors will lose much more than the potential profit from the participating preferred.

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Take image recognition for example. Recent advancements in this field can be traced back to a team of University of Toronto researchers, who won the world’s top image-recognition competition in 2012. That team was eventually recruited by Google, and its approach, which relied on a technique called deep learning (a subset of AI), was quickly adopted by the company. In a short period of time image recognition systems based on deep learning have become much more accurate; test error rates are down to about 5%, roughly on par with a human’s performance.

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We are pleased to share with you our glossary of must know terms that all entrepreneurs should understand. Founding a start-up is a significant undertaking, knowing the basics is the best place to start! 

Good luck!

http://bit.ly/VCglossaryTermsTLVPartners


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Not long ago, I was invited to an event held by one of the world’s leading investment firms. The similarities between most people in attendance were uncanny: powerful men, wearing suits worth thousands of dollars, and watches that probably cost a small fortune. Not surprisingly, the atmosphere surrounding the event was almost a cliche of how powerful men talk and behave.

Throughout the day, many panels on doing good business were held, and each speaker shared their version of proper behavior when investing. Most of the ideas revolved around taking good opportunities, and aggressively attacking them. For example, one speaker said that the first thing he does when investing in a company, is getting rid of all the members of management, and appointing members of his own.

But then, someone different took the stage. He was head of one of the smaller firms in attendance (still in the billions, though), and from the minute I saw him, in his modest-looking tweed blazer, he attracted my attention. When asked what he thought is the most important aspect of business, he used a word that was previously not uttered that day: “Nice.”

“To me,” he said (and I’m paraphrasing), “as important as it is to find good opportunities, being decent and nice to the entrepreneurs you work with, is no-less important.” The room fell to silence. An air of contempt was felt, as he calmly continued to explain the reasoning behind his word-choice. “Being nice is good for your business, great teams will want to work with you, will be willing to give you better terms - not to mention that you all benefit from the pleasant atmosphere. It’s important to me that if my kids meet someone I do business with, they would hear: ‘your dad is a really good guy.’”

I was in awe of this man. There he was, in a proverbial shark tank, surrounded by these corporate warriors, discussing the importance of being nice. What really impressed me was the fact that he wasn’t hesitant or apologetic, and showed as much confidence as any other speaker there, while presenting his rare business philosophy. In an ocean of forceful language, he was an island of calmness. As powerful as all the other men in the room were, in my eyes, he was the bravest speaker there.

I admire people who are not afraid to do things their way. If there’s something I’ve learned in my many years in the field of venture capital, it’s that there’s no one way to succeed. So many of us in the industry yield to these notions of power, and forceful language, and forget that things could be done differently. I think the most important thing I took from this event is the notion that, when you’re good at what you do, you can be successful without having to give up on what you believe is right. When doing business, it is important to be assertive, make good decisions, and take advantage of good opportunities - but you could still be “nice” when doing so.

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