Investing in a startup is not a game of chance or mere gut feeling. It's a systematic process where investors meticulously evaluate various aspects of your business before making the decision to invest. Let's demystify this process and delve into the three main buckets that investors check when evaluating whether or not to invest in your startup.
NUMBER ONE: Data is King – Showcase Your Startup's Performance
Investors are money people, and numbers are their language. They crave data to understand how your startup is performing. Here are a few examples of what you should include:
Users Acquired: The number of users and the rate of acquisition.
Revenue: Your earnings over a specific period.
Future Projections: Based on current traction, what are your revenue goals for the next year?
Market Opportunity: Show the potential money available in your market that you can tap into with their investment.
NUMBER TWO: Social Validation - Prove Your Credibility
Investors look to minimize risks. By demonstrating social validation, you can alleviate their concerns:
Press Mentions: Include logos and quotes from reputable media.
Team Background: Highlight where your team previously worked and their education.
Clients & Partners: Showcase those who find value in your startup's solution.
Previous Investments: Who else took a risk and invested in your startup?
Advisors: Share any advisors aligned with your industry or expertise.
NUMBER THREE: Conviction - Building a Strong Connection
Investors want to be drawn to your startup. Questions they might ask include:
Problem-Solving: Are they familiar with the problem you're solving?
Market Knowledge: Do they know the market well enough?
Value Addition: Can they add value to your startup?
Common Connections: Do they have anything in common with the founders?
Fascination Factor: Are they intrigued by your startup or market?
Conviction is often the toughest area to nail, but by weaving data and social validation into a compelling story, you can build the investor's conviction.
Conclusion: Your Path to Successful Fundraising
Investors don't just throw money at any idea. They are discerning, and they evaluate startups through a well-defined lens. By focusing on data, social validation, and building conviction, you can craft a pitch that resonates with investors and brings in the capital to grow your startup.
Investment decisions are much more cut and dry than what we see on television shows like Shark Tank. Use these insights to talk the talk with investors and take your startup to the next level.
As pioneers navigating the thrilling yet challenging terrain of startups, we understand the effort, sleepless nights, and relentless determination you've poured into your vision. Yet, when it comes to sharing that vision with potential investors, even the most passionate founders can stumble. Often, the difference between a successful pitch and an unsuccessful one isn't the idea itself, but rather how it's presented. And that's where we step in.
We're excited to introduce you to our secret sauce, the foundation of our success at Trulytell — The Trulytell Framework. This framework, carefully crafted and honed over countless hours working with founders like you, is your step-by-step guide to crafting an impactful deck and delivering a compelling pitch narrative that will make investors sit up and take notice.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be delving into each aspect of The Trulytell Framework in a series of blog posts designed to give you an in-depth understanding and actionable insights to transform your fundraising journey.
Storyflow & Narrative: Craft a compelling story that will evoke an emotional investment from your potential investors.
Layout Wireframe: Discover the importance of visual hierarchy and learn how to create a layout that amplifies your narrative.
Brand & Design: Elevate your pitch deck's aesthetic and create a memorable impression. There are ways to design a great pitch deck but we will explore this more in future blog posts.
Pitch Delivery: Master the art of delivering your pitch that aligns with investors' interests and leaves them wanting more.
Each of these components plays a crucial role in shaping your pitch deck, and through this series, we aim to provide you with the tools and knowledge to navigate each stage confidently.
But we won't stop at just guiding you to create a captivating pitch deck. We'll also share invaluable resources to help you understand each slide in your pitch deck, gain insights into fundraising, identify potential investors, strategize cold outreach, and manage investor updates.
We're excited about this journey we're about to embark on together. By the end of this series, you'll have a pitch deck that not only showcases your vision but also resonates with your potential investors.
Stay tuned for our first deep-dive published on June 30, where we'll tackle the first component of The Trulytell Framework: Storyflow & Narrative. We can't wait to see how your story unfolds.
Here's to your success!
Joshua Brueckner Founder, Trulytell
P.S. Get your copy of the entire framework for free right now by visiting this link.
Supliful is a CPG-as-a-Service startup based in Riga, Latvia that enables creators to launch and scale private-label CPG brands. It was founded by Mārtiņš Lasmanis, Rihards Pīks, and Rūdolfs Janītis in 2021. Trulytell collaborated with TechCrunch to turn Supliful’s original deck into “The Perfect Pitch Deck”, where the process was outlined into an article and published on May 4, 2023. Trulytell used our pitch deck service to enhance Supliful's storytelling, revamp their deck design with a dynamic and vibrant aesthetic that aligns with their brand, and elevate their pitch delivery through personalized coaching.
The original pitch deck that Supliful used faced significant challenges highlighted in a scathing review on TechCrunch. The review, authored by pitch deck expert Haje Jan Kamps, criticized the deck for being visually unappealing, filled with typos, and poorly designed. The deck was too centered around enabling CPG brands for creators instead of a broader market solution. Recognizing the need for a makeover, Supliful sought the expertise of Trulytell to create a new and improved pitch deck.
We first spoke with a Suplifil co-founder for an hour to learn about the company’s backstory, successes, and challenges in presenting to investors. Then, we used The Trulytell Framework to develop a slide flow and order that told a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. Next, we created narrative statements for each slide to succinctly tell the story. We then worked with the founder to gather content for each slide and laid everything out onto the slides. Finally, we put the deck through the design process. After the deck was completed, we worked with the founder on their presentation by facilitating mock investor pitches and feedback sessions. After TechCrunch labeled Supliful's pitch deck as "God-Awful," we outlined our process in an article. This caught TechCrunch's attention, leading to a collaboration to create the perfect pitch deck.
TechCrunch and Trulytell collaborated to enhance Supliful's pitch deck. The improved deck effectively communicated Supliful’s purpose, funding goals, and services through a well-designed cover slide and a summary slide. It addressed market challenges, showcased the company's position, explained its solution, and highlighted the success of one of Supliful's creator brands through a case study slide. Additionally, the deck zoomed out to demonstrate how the solution goes beyond serving creators and enhances operations by seamlessly launching and running a CPG brand. The presentation was brought to life with vibrant colors, lively shapes, and engaging custom graphics, weaving compelling statistics into a powerful narrative. On May 4, 2023, TechCrunch published the piece and titled it Pitch Deck Teardown: The Perfect Pitch Deck. Special thanks to Haje Jan Kamps at TechCrunch for the opportunity.
Kidato, a YCombinator-backed startup, is an online school providing education to students in Africa. It was founded in 2020 by Sam Gichuru. Kidato recruited Trulytell's pitch deck service to improve their pitch deck by making it more focused, concise, and visually appealing.
Kidato’s original pitch deck was difficult to follow. Each slide was cluttered with text, and the headlines did not provide any helpful context. The company also failed to tell a complete story about their business, focusing too much on their work with children and neglecting to mention their adult education platform. Additionally, the deck was too focused on the product and solution, and did not provide enough information about the market or why Kidato was an exciting investment opportunity.
We first spoke with Kidato’s founder for an hour to learn about the company’s backstory, successes, and challenges in presenting to investors. Then, we used The Trulytell Framework to develop a slide flow and order that told a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. Next, we created narrative statements for each slide to succinctly tell the story. We then worked with the founder to gather content for each slide and laid everything out onto the slides. Finally, we put the deck through the design process. After the deck was completed, we worked with the founder on their presentation by facilitating mock investor pitches and feedback sessions.
At Trulytell, we believe that a great story is essential to any successful pitch deck. That's why we worked closely with Kidato to develop a compelling narrative that would capture the attention of investors. We shortened the overall deck by taking a hyper-focused approach, condensing the story down to only the things an investor would want to know to make a decision. We then brought the story to life with exciting graphics, photography, and colors. From slide to slide, we wanted to bring consistency to the design. We gave each slide a visual focal point, and we used a consistent color palette and font throughout. The result was a pitch deck that was both visually appealing and informative. We're confident that the new deck will help Kidato achieve its fundraising goals.
Welcome to the first post in Trulytell's three-part "Design Matters" series where we will be exploring the importance of design when it comes to your startup and pitch deck. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, you'll find valuable insights and tips in these posts. So let's get started!
Your design is how your customers see you, from the first impression to how long customers remember your brand.
Your customers are constantly interacting with thousands of brands, products, and businesses every day. Your design will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace and grab your customer's attention. Studies have shown that users can assess the visual appeal of a website within about 50 milliseconds of viewing which doesn’t leave your brand a lot of time to make a good first impression. With so much other noise in the crowd and such a short amount of time to make a good first impression, design is key to grabbing your customer's attention and holding it.
In addition to nailing that first impression, good design makes your brand memorable. While good customer service and quality products and services ultimately will make your business succeed, good design can ensure that your customers don’t forget about you.
We’ve all described a brand by its logo, color scheme, or packaging when we can’t remember the company name, that’s design doing the heavy lifting. Design tools like the use of selective colors can trigger memory and help make sure that your brand isn't easily forgotten.
Design Authenticates a Company
Good design helps customers judge a company's quality and demonstrates that a business is trustworthy by demonstrating that it is professional, competent, and detail-oriented.
We’ve already covered how quickly your customers will judge your business based on design quality, but this isn’t just about the first impression. 75% of consumers admit to making judgments about a company's credibility based on their website design and 85% of B2B customers search the web before making a purchase decision. Your design decisions have a direct impact on how reliable and trustworthy your customers view you as.
A study from scholars at the Universities of Northumbria and Sussex found that of all the factors that were mentioned for rejecting or mistrusting a website, 94% were design related; only 6% were content related. Meaning you can spend all the time in the world creating resources for your customers, but if it isn’t designed well, your customers won’t trust what you are saying.
Good design with the consistency of design, easy-to-navigate user interface, and clear branding can cement your business as one to be trusted.
Well-Designed = User-Friendly
Design isn’t only website design or a great brand logo, one of the tenants of graphic design is simply to make complex information easier to digest. As products and services become more powerful and complex, good design is needed to create an easy and welcoming experience for your customers.
Steve Jobs once said, “It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” In other words, design isn’t simply aesthetics; it’s about making the entire experience better.
While many founders thrive in the weeds of their products and services, your customers likely won’t. That’s where good design can come in and help guide your users through your product experience, your checkout flow, or even just your website. Design acts as the key for your customers to interact seamlessly with your product.
Numbers Don’t Lie: Design Sells
We’ve seen how good design can not only attract customers but help retain their business and create trust in your brand but does it actually help with the bottom line? (Spoiler alert: Yes.)
In a McKinsey design study looking at 300 publicly listed companies over the course of 5 years, it was clear that the companies that more heavily invested in good design outpaced the companies that did not. The research found three key findings:
There is a strong correlation between a high design index and superior business performance. The top 25% of companies that scored high on a design index also increased their revenues and total returns to shareholders (TRS) substantially faster than their industry counterparts did over a five-year period—32 percentage points higher revenue growth and 56 percentage points higher TRS growth for the period as a whole.
The results held true in all three industries: medical technology, consumer goods, and retail banking. This suggests that good design matters whether your company focuses on physical goods, digital products, services, or some combination of these.
TRS and revenue differences between the fourth, third, and second quartiles were marginal. In other words, the market disproportionately rewarded companies that truly stood out from the crowd (Exhibit 2).
In lay-mans terms, the more you invest in your design the faster your company can grow regardless of what market you are breaking into. Investing in design may cost you a bit more time and money at the moment but, in the long term, these studies suggest that you’ll likely be glad you did.
Design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it is also a good business decision. By investing in design, you are investing in your company's success.
Great news - an investor has agreed to meet with you. It's important to be aware of the details involved in booking the meeting. If the process isn't carefully managed, it could result in the meeting never getting booked, postponed indefinitely, or outright canceled. To help you ensure that the meeting is scheduled without any issues, here’s some advice on what to avoid and why, as well as our own perspective on quickly getting the meeting booked. And, yes, we know some of this will feel old-school, but trust us: investors consider every moment you spend with them when evaluating whether or not they will invest.
Avoid using scheduling links when setting up a meeting.
This can give the impression that you are not invested in the meeting, as if it is just another event on your schedule. Additionally, it is more likely that a meeting booked through a scheduling link will be postponed or canceled, as it is easy to view rescheduling and canceling options in the calendar invite. There is one exception below in the template.
Avoid using your assistant when setting up a meeting.
Although using an assistant can be helpful for easily scheduling meetings with team members, advisors, service providers, and even clients, do not use an assistant when connecting with investors. It is important to take the time to personally provide your availability and show the investor that you are putting in the effort to build the relationship even before you meet. Using an assistant may also make investors believe that you frivolously spend money on things you can easily do yourself, which could deter them from giving you money.
It is important that you take the initiative to book the meeting with the investor.
Rather than expecting the investor to determine their availability and send a calendar invite, take the necessary steps to confirm the meeting. Look through your calendar and find a week's worth of availability, then adjust according to the investor's timezone. Do not include availability outside the hours of 8am-5pm their time. Use this template to plug in your availability and get the meeting booked:
Great to hear back — I’d love to connect and share more about [Startup]. Here is some open availability (30m, PST) on my end:
- [Today] Tue, Nov 29: 3-5pm - [Tomorrow] Wed, Nov 30: 8-10am, 12-3pm - Thu, Dec 1: 9:30-10am, 11am-2pm - Fri, Dec 2: 2-5pm
You can just let me know or confirm here: [booking url exception]
If I need to be more flexible because these times do not work, please let me know.
Pro-tip: Take a look at Morgen Calendar which helps you easily identify, timezone-convert, and copy/paste availability.
Timing is everything to keep the ball rolling.
Work quickly in your scheduling correspondence to maintain investor interest and get that meeting booked. Try to respond to messages and send out invitations on the same day. Additionally, a follow-up thank you note after the meeting should also be sent immediately.
Ultimately, as an early stage founder, your relationship with potential investors is invaluable. Taking the time to personally provide your availability and make a good impression can help you build trust and form a stronger connection. Automating the process may feel more convenient and save time, but it could be that small make or break when you’re *this* close to securing their investment.
TechCrunch recently published a brutally honest review of a pitch deck that a startup used to raise $1M. The piece appeared in the Pitch Deck Teardown column that, as you probably guessed, are reviews of pitch decks that startups used to close their recent fundraising rounds. But these teardowns aren’t just your average opinionated startup gawker’s ramblings. These are scrupulous observations from one of Silicon Valley’s leading pitch deck experts, Haje Jan Kamps, who is backed by tons of startup experience and even authored the book Pitch Perfect.
In the latest Pitch Deck Teardown, Haje dissected a pitch deck from a company called Supliful. My takeaway from the TechCrunch post was that Haje seemed quite fond of the business, but nearly mortified at the design and copy. Like picking out marshmallows from a box of Lucky Charms, I picked out all the sweet crunchy morsels from Haje’s piece for us all to eat up:
“butt-ugly and riddled with mistakes”
“laden with typos”
“design is god-awful”
“This 22-slide deck ain’t perfect”
“this pisses me off to no end”
Ouch. What Haje didn’t know is that myself and a Trulytell designer had also ripped this deck to shreds just weeks prior. That’s right, before Haje published his piece on TechCrunch, Supliful recruited Trulytell to put together an entirely new pitch deck to help them raise more money. Haje got his hands on the wrong deck, Supliful looks like a bunch of morons that can’t spell, and I missed out on getting Trulytell’s work published in TechCrunch. Triple ouch.
As a direct response to the TechCrunch review, in hopes of redeeming Supliful of Haje's not-so-Lucky Charms and to inspire more founders to go all in on their investor decks, I am publishing here the fundraising deck that Trulytell remade for Supliful.
First off, who and what is Supliful?
Simply put, Supliful is a startup making it easy to create and launch your own CPG brand. In the deck that Haje reviewed, Supliful placed a significant amount of focus on enabling CPG brands for creators. And yes, Supliful has had tremendous success amongst the creator community, allowing them to capitalize on their following with their own line of products. But I saw another angle.
Behind the scenes, Supliful sources a growing catalog of quality vetted CPG products, then integrates on merchant ecommerce sites to enable transactions. As each order comes in, Supliful prints and applies the label customized to and by the merchant and ships the product direct to the end customer. Supliful also handles customer support on behalf of the merchant. They’re even working on technology to enable manufacturers to ship direct to the customer, as well as for the ability for merchants to customize the ingredients used.
This makes Supliful's capabilities way bigger than addressing just creators. They are an end-to-end solution. An infrastructure. Supliful has developed scalable technology allowing anyone to instantly develop, launch, and maintain a CPG brand. Here’s how the one-liner panned out:
Old Supliful deck published in TechCrunch
New Supliful deck that Trulytell remade
We make it easy for creators to launch their own private label brand.
The most advanced software infrastructure to seamlessly launch and operate scalable CPG brands.
Slides in this deck
Supliful’s original deck was made up of 18 primary slides with 4 supplemental slides in the appendix. This is a lot of information to present and/or email investors, as it risks losing their attention. Remember, investors don’t need to know absolutely everything; just give them the story and back it up with supporting details; you can always answer their follow-up questions should they come. Trulytell’s deck for Supliful synthesized the primary slides from 18 to 13 and increased the appendix slides from 4 to 6.
Old Supliful deck published in TechCrunch
New Supliful deck that Trulytell remade
Primary Slides 1. Cover 2. Case study teaser 3. Problem 4. Solution 5. Market size 6. Why now 7. How it works 8. Financial levers 9. Inside sales/market growth 10. Case study 11. Metrics 12. Competition 13. Predicates 14. Team 15. Investors 16. Financial projections 17. Use of funds 18 Contact info
Addressing Haje’s “butt-ugly and riddled with mistakes” comment
First off, can we give Haje a round of applause for lettin’ it rip with the candor? Not only does it make getting past the TechCrunch paywall even more worth it, but it resonates because Supliful’s deck absolutely did lack aesthetic finesse and it needed love. So that’s just what Trulytell brought to the table.
If you look at Supliful’s website, you can tell they have a well-developed brand. After nailing down the story, content, and wireframe, our designer brought it all to life with Supliful’s brand colors, fonts, and imagery. Here’s a few before and afters to articulate the difference in design:
Supliful’s pitch deck before and after
Old Supliful deck published in TechCrunch
New Supliful deck that Trulytell remade
Sure, Supliful’s deck had silly typos and jarring design decisions, but there is no denying that they are crushing it with a business that has taken off and going far. More than anything, I am truly impressed with what the Supliful team has accomplished and more than proud for Trulytell to have been chosen to join their journey. During our time together, Trulytell helped Supliful with the following:
Updated the Supliful messaging from creators to revolve around their scalable CPG infrastructure
Developed a stronger story/narrative with succinct and compelling headlines
Brought the deck to life with a consistent on-brand design
Worked through the delivery with mock investor pitches
Facilitated intros to four CPG and future of commerce investors
“The value I got from Trulytell is much much more than I paid for. It has been massive for me to better formulate what we are doing and I think now it looks super good.” –Martins Lasmanis, CEO & Co-Founder of Supliful
Update — 10/23/2022, Tweet in response to this article by TechCrunch writer, Haje Jan Kamps:
Ever wondered what happens with a pitch deck after it gets the @TechCrunchPlus Pitch Deck Teardown? In this case, @trulytell went in to fix the things I pointed out, it's a fascinating read, and the difference is pretty awesome: https://t.co/nNTsISFqkn
Hey there, I'm Joshua, owner of Absurdity, a small-but-mighty agency specializing in Webflow websites. We focus on delivering unique web experiences that are accessible, responsive, and easy to edit. This post is a brief overview of the Trulytell design and development process. Need help with a new or existing Webflow project? See Absurdity’s website at absurdity.design or reach out at email@example.com.
All hail the wireframe gods
When we create a website, step one is always a detailed wireframe. We love octopus.do, but you do you. Getting outlined and organized up front gives us a roadmap for the whole project. Trulytell doesn’t have too many pages but has a lot to say. If we didn’t stay organized, it would’ve been a mess.
A few homepage options
Want to see a few early explorations of the Trulytell Home page? Fine, but don’t tell anyone. Created in Figma, these were ultimately revised into the Trulytell Home design you know and love.
The initial chaos of the hero sections were distilled down to a more restrained, controlled design, but still retained the color, texture, and fun.
Accessibility is a necessity
Not much to say here. Good design is accessible. Check your colors, people. We like to use abc.useallfive.com.
Animation makes everything fun
We’re always searching for ways to elevate web experiences. Animation is a fun way to not only add visual interest and sometimes, interactivity. We used a combination of Icon Scout and custom-made Lottie animations. For those unfamiliar, Lottie is a fantastic .json file-format that is used for super lightweight, high quality vector animation. Think gif, but a fraction of the file size, and higher quality. We used Lottie files throughout the homepage, and linked the call to action animation to user scroll, just for fun.
Nested CMS collections: why Webflow, why?!
At Absurdity, we love Webflow. We have and will continue to support the product and the community. So we say this with love and respect: Webflow, please allow more than a single nested Collection per page. This is going to get a little technical, so if you’re not a Webflow nerd, you might want to skip this section.
Here’s what happened… The Pricing section popup on every page of the site is a CMS-driven element. The features within are Multi-reference Collection item within that CMS section, which means we have created a nested CMS Collection. No big deal. That is, until we needed to use another one on the Resources page for tag filtering to be completely CMS driven as well. That meant that there were two nested Collections on the Resources page, which Webflow does not allow.
This situation forced us into a solution where we removed the nested Collection from the Resources tag system, requiring a manual adjustment every time a Resources tag is added going forward. It’s a relatively easy add, but could be completely automated with a nested Collection, if multiple were allowed on a single page. We can dream.
Every project has highs, lows, bugs, and things that finally worked after two hours of trial and error. Trulytell had it’s tricky parts – we even ran up against a Webflow limitation. After workarounds, problem solving, and other such trickery, though, we got the site live! It’s beautiful, fun, functional, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.
Need help with a new or existing Webflow project? See Absurdity’s website at absurdity.design or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We all know the startup space can be highly competitive, and getting eyes on your business can be challenging. As a founder, you'll need to grab attention and build brand recognition fast, but where should you start? Of course, anyone can create an Instagram or a Facebook page and start posting, but how do you get your business into national publications? Trulytell has some tips to get you started and create a focused and organized plan to get the press talking about your startup.
This article will focus on getting your business featured in prominent press outlets and how to work with journalists. But before we jump into "how," let's get clear on the "why." Why do you want to focus on getting press? At Trulytell, we think that press is a great tool because it instantly creates credibility for your startup. Being featured in TechCrunch or Business Insider is a sign of market validation for your business and helps your startup look bigger than it may be at the moment. This credibility will cause investors and potential clients to take you more seriously and set your business apart as an industry leader and trusted voice in your space.
Now that we know "why," let's talk through the "how." Getting in contact with journalists and news outlets may seem out of reach for most early stage startup founders, but we promise, it's easier than you think. We have four steps to getting your startup in the press. Here is our tried and true way of garnering press for your startup:
To start your process of getting press for your business, think through what kind of press you want for your business and make a list of publications you would like your company to be featured in. When making this list, think about your target audience. Who do you want to read an article about your business? What market are you trying to target?
If you have a financial product, select publications like Financial Times, Money, and Forbes. Are you looking to target a Gen Z market, check out magazines like Teen Vogue, Vice, or i-D. Have an app centered around fashion, don't forget about The New York Times Style section or trade publications like WWD, Vogue Business, and BoF. Specifically looking for investors or trying to target other business owners, look at Entrepreneur, Fortune, CNN, and The Street. Don't underestimate the little publications either. This is a catch-all list, so include everywhere and anywhere you would like your business featured. “All press is good press”, as they say.
Once you have your list of publications, it's time to do some reading. This is your in-depth research stage. The goal is to create a database of articles (teaser to step 4, you'll be contacting the writers of these article). Review all the publications and begin isolating pieces similar to what you would want to be written about your business. Subscribe to publications' newsletters and skim their new articles daily for like-minded stories. Finally, start by saving article links in a spreadsheet. When you see something, copy/paste it in — if it looks relevant, just save it.
If you have trouble finding articles that resonate with you and your business, do a targeted search on google.com/news. You can use keyword searches and set up Google Alerts to monitor the web for interesting new and relevant content, see what press other startups are getting and save the articles you'd like to see emulated for your business.
Pro tip: Try to focus on articles written and published within the last 6 months; many reporters work on contract and frequently jump from publication to publication.
Once you have a solid list (we recommend at least 50 articles as not every reporter will respond), you can create a rolodex of reporters to reach out to. Now add five more columns to your spreadsheet (in addition to the article URL): article headline, publication and the reporter's first name, last name, and email. It may seem like overkill, but we promise the extra work is worth it in the following steps when you mass-send personalized emails based on these spreadsheet cells. It’s also good to keep your contacts organized so that you're not confused when a reporter responds (sometimes weeks later).
To find a reporters email is usually pretty easy, but sometimes you have to play detective. The first place to look is by clicking into their bio usually linked on the article itself. If you are having trouble finding a reporter’s email in their bio, try searching for their Twitter or LinkedIn, as most reporters have their email listed publicly. As a last resort, you can always guess. Google the name of the publication and the words "email format" and use that to guess the reporters' email addresses based on what format comes up in the results.
If you have access to budget, we recommend looking into resources like Zirtual or RocketReach to help source articles and gather contact reporter emails, but dedicating a few hours to the cause is free if you’re bootstrapped.
Pro tip: It’s usually not worth it writing to general catch-all inboxes like email@example.com. Always try to focus your outreach on specific people.
The final sprint is making contact with the journalists that you've researched. There are two ways you can approach this, either manually copy/paste their emails and your contact template (we will talk more about this in a second), or you can automate the process. For sanity's sake, we recommend going the automated route. You can use a mail merge system like HubSpot or YAMM to mass-send personalized emails.
Once you know how you're going to send it, you can begin creating your template. The email should be concise, polite, and direct. Include links to your webpage and any other additional information but be careful to not over-explain. No one likes opening an email that is a wall of text, so make sure your messaging, formatting, and purpose are all clear.
Tips for your email template:
Your goal is to build connection and provide value. If you come from any other angle, it will reek of desperation.
Use human language. Anything too jargony and your email could feel insincere or get intercepted by a spam blocker.
Hyperlink your company and avoid writing out too much information. Let your site do the talking.
15-second skim time for the whole email. Journalists are just as busy as you are and get pitch A LOT.
Don't include unsubscribe options (as tempting and familiar as Mailchimp is)
You'll want to create three separate emails to reach out to journalists. There is a chance that your first email gets lost in the shuffle or intercepted by a spam filter. In our experience, email #2 is usually when you'll get responses from a journalist.
My name is Tom and I am founding ABC Widgets. I read your piece "[ArticleName]" and thought I’d reach out since we’re in the robotics space too. ABC Widgets has developed a fully-automated farm of alien robots that will take over the world.
I’d love to be considered for [Publication] — let me know if there’s any interest.
If you do indeed go down an automated path, take advantage of a sequence or drip-campaign setting in your mail-merge system. If you are sending your emails manually, be sure to keep track of what number of the emails you've sent to which reporter.
Avoid sending on Mondays and Fridays. It's best to send in the morning (between 7-11am PT) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Email servers usually limit the amount of emails one can send in a day. Usually that number is between 500-1000 emails. You will know you hit the limit when your email account gets frozen. Not the end of the world, but try to avoid it.
One of the most common questions we get from founders in the fundraising process is, “What do I send an investor who asks for my pitch deck before we’ve even had the chance to meet?”
We've seen it happen plenty of times; you send your deck to an investor, and for one reason or another, the meeting never happens. We can explain why this happens and what to do to pique their interest enough to land the meeting, ultimately leading you to securing funding to get back to business.
Why do investors ask for your deck before a meeting?
A pitch deck is a tool to introduce your business to investors in a pitch meeting. Many founders design their pitch decks to be delivered in person as a visual aid while they pitch. So why do so many investors ask for pitch decks prior to the meeting?
Investors ask for your deck for two reasons; to decide whether they should meet with you, or if they have agreed to meet with you, to get additional information on your company to prepare for the discussion. Either way, beware.
Giving an investor too much information before a meeting opens up the opportunity for them to build speculation around your business and make up their minds without you in the room to drive the narrative. Even if you end up meeting with the investor, if they’ve already reviewed your deck, it will rob you of the chance to make a strong impression during the meeting. Most (if not all) of the information you present will be duplicative, which can make it hard to keep the investor’s attention and doesn’t allow the investors to emotionally invest in your pitch.
What to send instead of your deck
How do you get a meeting and hook an investor without sending a deck? If you're not getting results from sending your pitch deck before a meeting, try something different. We love a one-pager to communicate a business’ purpose, goals, and business model. One-pagers are great tools to use when you are in the initial stages of meeting investors because they don’t rely on your narrative to get the point across.
Your one-pager is your ultimate hype tool and your new best friend. A one-pager aims to present enough information to investors so they can learn about your company without overwhelming them with too much information. An effective one-pager will give an investor the confidence that you have a strong, well-thought out business. This will pique their interest enough to follow through with the meeting and better engage during it.
Create a one-pager
When creating your one-pager, we’ve found breaking it down into manageable sections is the best approach to get started. We like to think about the three main components as your voice, your content, and your style.
The goal of your one-pager is to grab the attention of investors and make them want to learn more about your business. The “voice” of your one-pager will help you do just that. You can think of the “voice” as how you want investors to read your one-pager; the tone of your writing will determine how you are perceived.
You want your content written in an easily digestible, clear, and concise way. A one-pager is not the place to deep dive into any aspect of your startup, as the one-pager acts as your startup's TL;DR.
Now that you know how you want your one-pager to sound, it’s time to write it. It can be overwhelming to try to distill all of your company's work and goals into a page or less, but there are a few sections that all one-pagers should include:
Problem - What is your company solving and why is it important to solve?
Solution - How is your business uniquely positioned to tackle this problem?
Market - Who are you solving the problem for?
Vision - Where do you see your company going in the long term?
Milestones - What are the major steps it will take to get you there?
Business Model - How will your company operate?
The Raise - What do you need from investors to get you there?
Once you have all your information, you need to make it look good. While here at Trulytell, we never advocate for style over substance, we also acknowledge the importance of a polished presentation.
Organization and branding are key here. Creating clear headers, footers, and sidebar sections can help you get a lot of information into your one-pager without visually overstimulating your audience. We recommend using your existing branding to bring personality and make your one-pager stand out. No one will remember a plain Word document, so don’t be afraid to be true to your startup’s brand. If you need a little inspiration for organization, here’s an example we found online.
Trulytell can help you define your story to plug into your one-pager. Check out our Services & Pricing or chat with us down below.
Happy June! In May, I started building Trulytell, a b2b tech startup enabling better decks and presentations. I’m recapping my monthly progress here to share the journey, expand my network, and help hold myself accountable. 🔎📈@Trulytell May Recap, 1 of 8
Let me lay this out for everyone. I work in sales. I always have and I always will. I believe that a powerful presentation is at the intersection of great design with interesting visuals, articulate copy, intriguing story flow, and strong delivery.@Trulytell May Recap, 2 of 8
But not everyone has the ability to design well, craft copy, or deliver a strong narrative on their own. Lacking in any one of these areas can result in lost money and a poor first impression. I see opportunity here and I’m calling it Trulytell.@Trulytell May Recap, 3 of 8
Trulytell will start by supporting fast-growing startups on their sales and fundraising journeys. Startups rapidly pivot and optimize messaging—their sales and fundraising materials need to evolve as well. Mark my words: Trulytell will solve this.@Trulytell May Recap, 4 of 8
I met five startups from Twitter; we meet weekly and I help wherever I can. It’s all very scrappy and hands-on and I love it for now. Slowly, I am beginning to understand how to build a product around this opportunity.https://t.co/8ILZOUXsr0@Trulytell May Recap, 5 of 8
I then needed a logo so I turned to 99Designs where I reviewed 600+ logos from 75+ designers. @josh_jroberts turned the winning logo into a brand with color, typography, and a sub-logo. Professional meets quirky—jUsT liKe mE. The designer nailed it.@Trulytell May Recap, 6 of 8 pic.twitter.com/bKjygCktnI
Next up: a web agency to create a sexy Trulytell website. I received over 150 agency submissions between Twitter and Upwork and I narrowed it down to eight to review my design brief with. I signed with @AbsurdityDesign 💖https://t.co/U7vTB5aH3Q@Trulytell May Recap, 7 of 8