How to pitch your startup. Tips from Michael Seibel (YC CEO)

Alexey Shashkov
4 replies
My summary of the article by @mwseibel (CEO @ycombinator) «How to Pitch Your Company». Source: https://www.ycombinator.com/libr... 1. What do you do? – This is a two-sentence (elevator) pitch. – We should start with the name of our company and what it does. – There’s no need to set up the problem, we can just get to the point. – Walking through the user path can be an effective tactic. Example: «Getlanding.io is a web app for automatic generation landing pages in seconds.» The goal is to make people interested enough to ask follow-up questions. – Walking through the user path can be an effective tactic: «We’re Getlanding. We build a web app with a step-by-step form in it. You can type your answers into that form, and we'll generate your landing page in seconds.» 2. How big is the market? – How is the market size, and what % we could own? – How many customers would want our product and how much we could charge them? Example: «Getlanding makes a landing page generator for marketing people. Around 167,000 new websites are created every day in the US. The lifecycle of our landing page generator is two years. Our market opportunity in the US is 3% (5000 landing pages every day)» 3. What’s your progress? – How fast we produce work. – What is the ratio between what we’ve done and how long we’ve been working on it? – About product development and customers - first. – About fundraising or biz dev deals - second. Example: «We started to work on Getlanding in August and asked people on social media about that. We did 10 customer interviews and planned an MVP. We generated our landing page and pre-launched it with the waitlist on Aug 27. Our traction is 63 subscribers for 21 days.» 4. What’s your unique insight? – What do we know about the problem that everyone else doesn’t? – A unique insight is specific and doesn’t contain complicated language. – A startup’s unique insight often gives investors an aha moment. Example: «Even with lots of no-code website builders, most people are still forced to delegate a landing page building to developers and designers. Why? Because it is sucks! Getlanding gives marketers the fastest alternative so they would never have to delegate it.» 5. What’s your business model? – Own the simple business model. – Mistake startups often make is offering a potpourri of business models (virtual goods, product placement, chat ads, contests, etc.). Example: «Getlanding would monetize with Subscriptions (SaaS)» 6. Who’s on your team? – How many founders? – Is there a technical co-founder? – How long have they known each other? – Is everyone working full time? – What is the equity split among the founders (hopefully equal or close to equal)? – Are there extremely relevant credentials? – You don’t need to mention your GPA or that you once worked at Google. Example: «We're two co-founders with an equal «50/50» equity split. Gleb (@artdaw) is a CTO working part-time. I'm a CEO working full-time. We know each other since Aug 2021 when we started to work on this product together in «YC Build Sprint» 7. What do you want? – "What do you think?" is a bad question. – "Do I have a good idea?" is another bad question. – If you want an investor to invest, ask. – If you have a question, ask. Example: «We want to raise $200k pre-seed for marketing and development. We will be quick to iterate. We will be quick improving on our solution until it actually solves a problem. With this money, we’ll hit all the milestones for our next round within 6 months» 8. Improving – Make the answers as clear as possible. – Eliminate jargon, acronyms, marketing speak, and any ambiguous terms such as "platform". – Make it sound dumber than you think it should. – You don’t need to sound cool. You need to be clear. – Don’t try to have pizzazz. 9. The Email Test Write up a two-sentence explanation of what your startup does then email it to a smart friend. Ask them to explain it back to you in different words. If they ask any clarifying questions, you need to revise your pitch. 10. Most good ideas don’t look like good ideas the first time you see them so your ability to show progress in your work and intellect in how you answer these questions are two very positive signals. 11. Once investors understand what we’re working on it’s all about making them believe that it’s plausible that we can succeed. 12. Was this summary helpful? – Share this post to help others find these tips. – Follow me @shashcoffe for more weekly startup summaries. – Share your examples in replies.

Replies

Pierre Kraus
Business Analyst @Telios
Thanks for sharing @shashcoffe! Pitching is easier said than done. It needs to be concise and straight to the point while getting people's interest. Your section about "What's your unique insight?" is what made me want to learn more about your product. I gave it a try below. I'd love to have feedback on it! 1. What do you do ? Telios is an email service that gives you complete privacy & ownership of your personal data. 2. How big is the market? There are 4 billion email users worldwide and that user base is expected to continue to expand by a rate of 3% per year (Radicati Email Statistics Report, 2021-2025). There are currently over 5 billion email accounts (99 Firms “How Many Email Users Are There”) . Currently less than 1% of the email market uses a privacy email provider, so the private email market has a lot of room for growth. 1% of the market is equal to 50,000 million users. 3. What’s your progress? We started to build Telios a year ago. We started communicating about it on social media last summer. Social media and website content helped us to double our signups for the waiting list. 4. What’s your unique insight? Telios doesn’t use a central server to store email communication and encrypts all of user’s data. Our users’ store their data on their local devices, so they are the ones in control of their data. We also offer an alias integrated feature; our competitors provide this feature as an additional service, thus increasing their customers’ total cost to improve their privacy. 5. What’s your business model? Telios business model is a freemium. 6. Who’s on your team? We’re 3 co-founders and 1 employee. @gareth_harte is our CTO, @youreka our CPO, and Stephen our CEO, they’ve known each other for years. I’m a Business Analyst and recently joined the company (last June). 7. What do you want? We want to raise money to accelerate our growth and sustain ourselves for the next year.
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Alexey Shashkov
Inspired product maker
@pierre_kraus Pierre, thanks a lot for your examples. It's really cool to know a lot about your project in a short post. I can't give you full-blown feedback on it because I'm not a target audience. But I'll use your answers as a cool example. Much appreciated!
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Pierre Kraus
Business Analyst @Telios
@shashcoffe Thanks man! I agree, with these 7 questions, it makes learning about a project very easy.
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Alexey Shashkov
Inspired product maker
@pierre_kraus Absolutely!