Crafting a great Seed stage pitch is no easy feat. There’s so much information you could include. “At the Seed stage, it’s critical to focus on your team’s unique qualifications for tackling a massive market opportunity,” says Sooah Cho, Principal at Underscore VC. “It can be tricky, as it takes the right balance of proof and promise.”
It can be easy to get caught up in your exciting idea and product, but there are several other elements you’ll need to include to show that you have a compelling opportunity that an investor will want to take a chance on.
As part of this process, we strongly recommend you write out a pitch narrative before you start to build a Seed pitch deck. This exercise helps you synthesize your thoughts, smooth transitions, and craft a logical, compelling story. It also helps you include all the necessary information and think through your answers to tough questions.
In this video, Underscore VC Partner Chris Gardner shares more context on writing out your pitch.
This investment memo template outlines the key details for a Seed stage pitch. Time to put your investor hat on for a moment and set your fundraise up for success.
Seed Investment Opportunity
Year – Month – Day
Why is this a big opportunity to return the fund for this VC firm? Consider your team, market, value prop, etc.
What does your company do uniquely well for whom?
- Founding team backgrounds (with LinkedIn profiles)
- How and why did you come together to solve this problem?
- How are you uniquely qualified to build this business?
- Does your team have experience in the space?
- Have you worked together before?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Who will be your references?
How could this business become a billion dollar opportunity?
- Why now? (Why is this the right time for this business?)
- What is changing in terms of customer behavior? Competition? Product? Cost?
- Is the industry becoming more concentrated or fragmented?
- Is this a new category? How new?
- How does the tech tie into industry development?
- In what macro-industry and sub-sectors does this company belong?
Opportunity Size: Bottom-up market size and top-down calculation of the total available market (TAM) and growth perspective.
- Is the problem Unworkable? Does your solution fix a broken business process where there are real, measurable consequences to inaction? Will someone get fired if the issue is not addressed?
- Is fixing the problem Unavoidable? Does a governance or regulatory control mandate drive it? For example, is it caused by a fundamental requirement for accounting or compliance?
- Is the problem Urgent? Is it one of the top few priorities for a company? In selling to enterprises, you’ll find it hard to command the attention and resources to get a deal done if you fall below this line.
- Is the problem Underserved? Is there a conspicuous absence of valid solutions to the problem you’re looking to solve? Focus on the whitespace in a market or segment.
What compelling information can you gather that shows the customer’s pain?
- Do you have any great quotes from customers?
- How can you convey the pain that customers feel?
- Can you share notes from a customer call?
Product & Value Proposition
Value Proposition: Briefly describe the problem you’re solving, your value proposition, and why your product is relevant in the customer’s context. Define your specific value prop in a phrase:
- For (target customers)
- Who are dissatisfied with (the current alternative)
- Our product is a (new product)
- That provides (essential problem-solving capability)
- Unlike (the product alternative)
- Product: Describe your product’s approach with particular attention to:
- Describe its main features and a basic overview of its functionality. How do these features solve specific customer pain points?
- What challenges are associated with technology: adoption, cost, etc.?
- Why is this technology a better approach?
Differentiation and Defensibility: Explain why your company’s approach is unique. Focus on:
- Does this company have long-term defensibility?
- How replicable is it? If it is replicable, how long would it take?
- Is there specific expertise required to build this tech that only your team has?
What unique combination of Different innovation, Defensible technology, and Disruptive business model are you using? What makes it truly compelling?
- Different innovations offer transformative benefits over the status quo by looking at a problem in a new way.
- Defensible technologies provide intellectual property that can create a barrier to entry and an unfair competitive advantage.
- Disruptive business models yield value and cost rewards that help catalyze a business’ growth.
Ideal Customer Profile
Describe who is in your minimum viable segment.
- Who is your target customer? Outline the buyer persona for each use case.
- Who influences their decisions? Describe their decision-making unit (DMU).
Trends: Explain your company’s competitive landscape and how you expect it to develop in the future.
- What is the overall state of competition?
- Are you targeting whitespace?
- Where does your company outperform the competition?
- Where might it underperform?
Include a closer look at the competition. Describe each competitor, highlighting key advantages/disadvantages, funding highlights, positioning, and traction.
Include an outside-in review of the competition. What do they think of the market and whitespace? Summarize validation from analysts, customers, employee calls, and other primary research.
Share a brief overview of your funding history. Highlight key stakeholders, significant/unusual shareholders, government grants, and other relevant information about your prior funding.
Outline your current round. What’s the total to be raised? What parties are involved?
Include a pre- and post-financing cap table.
Vector Financing: What vector are you on? Add a forward projection of the cap table that includes next-round ownership, with pool increases.
Team Equity Budget: Outline how you split ownership between founders.
Key Risks of Investment
Outline key risks that would be involved in making this investment.
- What plans are in place to mitigate these risks in the next period?
Describe the key milestones you’ll target as you move from your current Seed to a future Series A round.
- Which milestones will increase your company’s value?
- Which will de-risk the venture?
Include links to all reference docs such as customer call notes, Google Drive folder, cap table, slides, etc.