Be Bold, Upfront And Straightforward – Advice for #StartupCincy

Joanna Drake Earl Cor VenturesJoanna Drake Earl, general partner at the Silicon Valley based Core Ventures Group, is no stranger to raising funds. Over the course of her career she has been a part of 4 venture backed companies, all with successful exits. She recently visited Cincinnati and during her time here she had the chance to meet with some of #StartupCincy’s ecosystem partners.

“We met with several of your founders and we were really impressed with them,” she said. “They are committed, engaged and excited entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of all the support the Cincinnati startup community offers them.”

After her visit, Joanna gave us some advice for #StartupCincy founders for when they pitch potential investors. She had three take-home points.

Know Your Competition

[pullquote]Acknowledging the coastal competition…signals that you’re in-the-know and part of the national startup scene.[/pullquote]

Your pitch deck needs to include at least one detailed slide that clearly demonstrates your grasp of the national competitive landscape. This may seem like a scary exercise but knowing your competition demonstrates to potential investors an understanding of the national startup scene.

“You need to incorporate slides that really list out your coastal competition – the companies getting the attention of the Y-Combinators and top-tier VCs,” she said. “Acknowledging the coastal competition lends your pitch credibility – it signals that you’re in-the-know and part of the national startup scene, as opposed to outside the main-stream.”

Also, being unique is a good thing. But being so unique that you have no competition may not be.

“Sometimes when you ask serial entrepreneurs about their competition they say, ‘We don’t have any because what we’re doing is so unusual’. This makes them seem less perceptive,” Joanna said. “Understanding the competitive landscape makes you look savvy. It is a legitimizing factor and grounds the conversation quickly.”

Acknowledge Your Funding Status

[pullquote]In the current startup climate… founders need to know how to extend their financing runway.[/pullquote]

Many startups are struggling to find their way through the Series A Crunch. And, as Joanna pointed out, the State of Ohio has programs that help companies survive in the giant space between Seed and Series A.

Cincinnati founders need to have a couple talking points about their funding status and financials. Even better, put a comprehensive slide about it in your deck. You might be able to secure more seed funding if potential investors know there are state programs to help you through the crunch.

“In the current startup climate, the metrics for Series A funding is more like what Series B or C used to be. Good founders need to know how to extend their financing runway,” she said. “Organizations like CincyTech give you an advantage most ecosystems don’t have. Take time to talk about the structured ways Ohio helps support your early funding.”

For Cincinnati startups, talking about funding and financing is a competitive advantage.

Fans from The West Coast

[pullquote]Don’t hide anything in your presentation. Be bold, upfront and straightforward.[/pullquote]

“Cincinnati has a really exciting startup climate with corporate partners leaning in, Cintrifuse building a network of VCs and the state helping startups with funding.” she said, “We’re fans of #StartupCincy and we’re eager to be a support network for you on the West Coast.”

Joanna also had one last bit of parting advice for #StartupCincy entrepreneurs.

“You have a great support system here. Make sure you take advantage of it,” she said. “And don’t hide anything in your presentation. Be bold, upfront and straightforward.”

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