Khosla’s Adina Tecklu breaks down how to nail your pitch

Pitching is perhaps the single most important skill that any founder needs to hone, so not surprisingly, we kicked off our TechCrunch Early Stage 2021 — Marketing & Fundraising event with a deep dive on all the tips and tricks required to get the most out of pitching and slide decks. On hand was Adina Tecklu, a principal at Khosla Ventures, and who formerly built out Canaan Beta, the consumer seed practice at Canaan Partners.

We talked about the importance of knowing your customer (aka your potential investor), focusing on story, typical slides in a deck, the appendix slides, formatting, and then alternative formats and which to avoid in a pitch deck.

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Know your customer, in this case, your investor

We kicked off our discussion with advice that remains as valuable as it is obvious. Even today, despite the wealth of resources available on the internet to background research potential investors, founders regularly walk into their pitch meetings like deer in headlights with no sense of that particular investor’s interests, tastes, stage of investment and more. Don’t be that founder.

Key number one is know your audience. The best founders understand their users, whether that is an end consumer, or an enterprise customer. They’ve done the research to understand what motivates their customers, how they make buying decisions, and also what their customers like and don’t like as much about their own product. When fundraising, your VC essentially becomes your customer. And so before you begin pitching, or even building your deck, it’s really important to do your research beforehand to understand the firms and the partners that you intend to pitch. (Timestamp: 2:25)

If you do that right,

That knowledge allows you to proactively address any concerns that they might have. And really make sure that you position your business in a way that is both authentic, but in a way that will be well received by the VC. (Timestamp: 3:20)

Story-driven, not data-driven

Data is the most important source of wisdom in Silicon Valley, or so the belief holds. But the reality, particularly in early-stage investing, is that the data can only paint a partial picture of a startup and a founder’s ambition. Don’t let a dense copse of trees occlude the wider forest, which is what investors are really investing in.

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