10 questions that top founders nail down before pitch to VCs

As a partner at an early-stage VC firm, I hear 100s of pitches each year.

Lack of clarity in your answers is one of the biggest mistakes I see (even when you’re pre-product and pre-revenue).

Here are 10 questions that top founders nail down before their pitch.

1/ What is the core problem you’re solving?

You can start with a broad social issue, but you have to ultimately focus on a specific (and acute) customer pain point.

2/ How are you solving this problem?

Often, this is surprisingly difficult to answer. Be focused + concise. What are you doing first, and what do you eventually aspire to do?

3/ Who is your initial user?

Who are you building for? If you’re consumer-facing, clarify the personas. If you’re enterprise-facing, the specific function/role.

A bonus Q – is this person also your buyer?

4/ How will you acquire users / distribute your product? What sustainable acquisition advantages do you have that others do not?

For most companies, your idea is not unique. GTM can be one way to differentiate at the outset.

5/ How large is this market?

A basic question, but important to get right. It has to be large enough to support venture-scale outcomes.

6/ In an ideal world, if you hit every milestone, what does this company look like in 3-5 years?

A classic version of the vision question. Be inspiring and ambitious. Now is not the time to think about incremental progress.

7/ Why is your 1st step the right one to achieve this vision?

This demonstrates intentionality. Think about other approaches. Think about existing solutions. Why is this the best way to start?

8/ How do you scale to 1m in rev? 10m? 100m?

Alternatively, how do you acquire your first 1K/10K/100K users? I want to hear that you’ve thought about the evolution of the company and how you scale.

9/ Why now?

Simple and straightforward. Specific regulation? Market is derisked? Tech is derisked? Plenty of great ideas don’t pan out due to timing.

10/ What is your motivation for building this? Why are you the right person/team to do so?

Consider your founder-market fit. What drives you to keep pushing even when times get tough?

These won’t be the only Qs you’re asked.

The best investors will dig into your answers, and you’ll need to defend their follow-ups.

Be concise, clear, and intentional. And most important – practice!!

I hope you’ve found this helpful!

Follow me @jchen623 for more thoughts on early-stage investing and advice on the founder journey.

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