We turned the spotlight on four very interesting new startups that are seeking investment in our third pitch night on November 18. They presented their plans to a panel of five pros who listened and then provided advice on how to improve. One piece of advice was to come up with a quick phrase that can quickly encapsulate what the company is about. Maybe something like this:
- EVLife—Tools like “Turbotax” for simplifying the paperwork of buying an EV and claiming all the credits. (There are a dozen credits and incentives and many people fail to claim all of them)
- Ascent Analytics—Tools for slashing two-thirds of the cost of solar installations, the “soft costs”. (They are taking a captive tool developed by one solar installer and converting it to a SaaS sell to medium-size installers.)
- Lemna—Saving billions of dollars by growing common duckweed to filter and cleanse waste water from cattle and hog raising. (The duckweed that grows on the waste water is pelletized for animal feed, closing the loop.)
- Hexas Biomass—Substituting superior fiber from an exotic plant for wood for making building material and chemicals. (The plant looks like corn and bamboo had a baby.)
Two of the most common suggestions were:
- Start with evidence of “traction”, tangible evidence that you have customer interest; don’t start with a description of the technology; investors want to know there is a real business at hand
- Spend more time developing financial projections so investors see what their returns would look like and how much money it will take to make a company reach breakeven
One of the panelists suggested using a template for presentations that was created by well-known tech VC firm Sequoia Capital and provided this link.
The panel members also recommended a tighter focus on fewer products and on a very clear customer segment. They were concerned the presenters were trying to do too many things and it made the pitch harder to follow.
The presenters all felt they got a lot of good feedback that will help them as they fundraise. That’s exactly why we hold these sessions. Many thanks to our panel members for taking the time to offer their help.
No summary can do justice to the many insights that came out of this session. If you missed it, we have made it available on our website and on YouTube directly.
Our next Spotlight Investor Pitch Night will be held in the first quarter of 2022, so watch for our announcement of it. Tell your colleagues to join us next time and if you have a company you would like to present, please let us know.
A special thanks to those who donated when they registered. That’s what keeps us going. If you would like to contribute, see our donations page.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart's Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.