Finally, you’ve reached this slide of your pitch deck. Time to say how much do you need and what you’re going to spend these funds on. Do you know that there are guidelines and “no-goes” that will definitely raise red flags for VCs?

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Just a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to help with his pitch deck.

What exactly can I help you with? — I asked him during our 10 minutes Zoom call.

I’m struggling with proving to VC that I really need these USD $500,000 — was, in a nutshell, his astonishing answer.

On second thoughts, I didn’t find it so astonishing. As I’ve already mentioned in one of my previous articles, even founders with experience who have a seed round behind them are not necessarily certain, how much do they actually need to raise. This uncertainty…

Is it about eye-catching design? Or is it more about “selling copy”? Well, if I knew the exact answer to this question I would probably be next to Jeff Bezos in the Forbes ranking. Still, I have some ideas that might help you figure out the secret sauce ingredients on your own.

Good vs bad design

Ok, let’s begin with the eye-catching part. Designers in general are aware of multiple physical laws that regulate human vision (like, how our retina processes light), as well as most influential theories of objects perception (like, Feature Integration Theory or Recognition by Components Approach). However, when one designer is able to create something impressive with all that knowledge, another one struggles to put two and two together. Why does it happen?

Aren’t there some “golden ratios” that can be used in web design just like artists freely use Leonardo’s heritage for better results?

When me and my team, located in…

Getting as much cash as possible sounds like a plausible strategy for a startup during a round. In practice, it’s a totally wrong path to take.

Photo by Andrew Moca on Unsplash

A couple of years ago I participated in a founder’s bootcamp where one unfortunate guy made a huge impact on everyone with his pitch deck — in a bad way.

I can’t even remember what his startup was about, that’s how bad the pitch was, but the bottom line was that founder described it as a venture with PAYING customers. The founder also proclaimed that business already generated about $700,000 annually. At the same time, he was actively raising and offered 10% of his company’s shares in exchange for — ta-ta-dam — $50,000 check.

To us, he sounded either desperate…

A 5-min long exercise that will help you figure out, whether a designer you’re about to hire would really lift your business to a new level.

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to interact with numerous designers. Almost 15 years ago when I ran a publishing business, I worked shoulder to shoulder with dozens of graphic designers. Then I started an e-commerce venture and had a handful web designers in my team. Finally, I’ve launched 2 startups and a digital marketing studio for startup founders where I have to hire, fire, manage and cooperate with UX, web and graphic designers almost daily. …

I’m a member of almost every subreddit dealing with startups. I follow startup people on Twitter and Facebook, listen to podcasts and conversations in CH... You get the picture. And everywhere I go, I meet thousands of non-tech founders looking for tech co-founders. I read their posts, listen to their stories. And all I want is to cry out loud: “You’re tackling this from a totally wrong angle!”

Personal pain

I have to say I was among those people too. I was looking for a tech co-founder for almost a year.


First time my failure was totally predictable as I was not really sure whom to look for, and where to do the search. Being quite far from tech community with a background in education, e-commerce, publishing and wholesale business I couldn’t reach out for my classmates or co-workers, to get a reasonable advice. I knew I wanted a product to be built but I had no idea who might do it.

Sure enough, I went online and googled…

Bad news for strong advocates of neuro-programming concepts: you’ve landed a wrong page. I’m not going to describe secret technics that you can use to “program” your future millions in cash by chanting a specific sequence of sounds. Good news for “old school” science adepts: I’ll be only covering ideas about brain that have come to become mainstream in modern scientific environment. The take away you’ll have to get on your own.

1. SNS is about selection: when running for your life, don’t waste energy on digesting breakfast

As famous Prof. Robert M.Sapolky points out in his book on neural origin of aggression ‘Behave’, our immediate reactions are mostly ruled by two parts of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic. It’s been known for a quite while that these two-folded structure is somehow important. But only recently have we come to understand the depth of impact it has on our every action, weather conscious or unconscious. The functions of these systems are fairly opposite. The sympathetic system (SNS) mediates the body’s response to stressful circumstances. For example, producing the famous “fight or flight” response. Meanwhile, the parasympathetic…

What UX design is about? Why UX design is so important, particular for MVP development? What UX designers actually do?

Wikipedia’s curse

You won’t believe it, but most clients we encounter with think that UX design is just a web design, but with a higher price tag. No kidding! That’s exactly what they’d say:

“Don’t even think of mumbling about this UX thing. (sometimes, it’s a UI thing, beacuse if you’re not sure what you’re talking about, the exact naming is not your cup of tea). It’s just a new “cool” way to trick poor customers into giving you more money”.

Well, I know who is to blame for this unfortunate misinterpreting. Wikipedia, no less! Imagine you’re a person who knows nothing…

What makes a pitch deck successful? What do investors want to hear? Is “problem-solution-traction-team-future” structure still game? Find answers to these and some other questions in the article below.

Googling up “pitch deck template” will probably yield over 10 mln results (depending on your language and location). It’s quite a pond to fish from, isn’t it? If you’ve had an experience of being interviewed by investors or of actual pitching to them, you probably won’t see the task of writing a descent pitch deck so challenging. But if you’re a novice and getting down to your first investor’s pitch, you’ll certainly feel as frustrated as I had couple of years ago. On the other hand, even if you have already successfully raised a round or two, you might feel…

The winning strategy is to go in stealth mode through the developing period until you’re ready. Then invest tons of cash in a first week of launch, creating a big boom in the market. Right? Totally wrong!

If you’re a first time founder and you’ve already half way through development. Or you’re more closer to the end and getting down to your Pitch Deck. Everything is crystal clear, but for the “Go-to-market” slide which you have no idea about. Still, there is certainly some time left, you will figure it out when the product is completed. Well, if you think this particular way we have some bad news for your: you might be already in trouble. You’re totally wrong presuming that the winning strategy for a successful launch is to keep secretive about your technology, and invest…

and can it really raise venture money?

Success factor

I am constantly asked by students I mentor: what is the most important factor of startup success? Product-market fit? Scalability? Great team? All these factors are definitely important. But if you listen to founders who have created something worthy (like, unicorns) you’ll be surprised to find out that they consider the most important success factor to be the right timing. Meaning, if you have an idea and you see an opportunity you should move real quick, to get your product to the market. Otherwise, it’ll be captured by someone else. Usually (and, fortunately) good ideas tend to come into many…

Ana Bibikova

Founder and CEO @Alsmark Studio. Being a startup founder, love to help other founders on this exciting journey.

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