How to explain the founder personality in a pitch deck? In other words, how do you convey your startup’s cofounder personalities when pitching investors?
The personalities of the founders of a startup can be absolutely pivotal. This can apply to all types of factors in business. Including securing the best suppliers and contractors, hiring and managing teams, attracting the best advisors, gaining and retaining customers, stock prices, and more. It certainly matters at the critical point of fundraising. It can easily make or break a campaign.
So, why does this matter so much in what is really a financial transaction? What personality traits are startup investors looking for in fundable startups? How do you convey those good traits your team has when it comes to pitching investors?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Why Is Founder Personality So Important In Startup Fundraising?
Especially in the early rounds of startup fundraising, founder personality and experience is about all that investors really have to go on when making an investment decision.
During these rounds, there is often little in the way of tangible and sizable data, revenues, and the financial history of the business itself. So, it is about making a judgment call on whether these founders have what it takes to make it, and multiply their money.
This is often a long-term marriage. It may be 10 years or more of working together and relying on those founders. It is not a simple one-time transaction and done.
While startup investing is significantly data-driven, and a financial transaction, it is still very much a human and emotional buying decision.
Keep in mind that in fundraising, storytelling is everything. In this regard, for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
What Are Investors Looking For In Startup Founders?
Does your founding team have the right personality traits that startup investors are looking for? So, how to explain the founder personality in pitch deck?
What are they?
Fundraising is another form of sales. You are selling investors on buying stock in your company. You are selling them on yourselves as a founding team.
Being likable is a critical pillar of all sales.
This does not mean that you should be fake or overdo it. Though do be your most likable selves.
If you aren’t sure if this is a problem, or if you’ve been turning investors off in this way, then it is always wise to get some honest feedback on your pitch from others.
Grit & Tenacity
Launching and keeping a startup going is not easy. In fact, it is very hard. So hard that most wouldn’t even dream of doing it if they really knew how hard it was going to be in advance.
Entrepreneurship is really just about tackling a whole barrage of new challenges and problems each day. That’s not counting the big crises.
You simply cannot make it without an incredible amount of grit and tenacity. This may be why those that have been through tough things in their lives before often make good entrepreneurs.
Those that have traveled a lot and have embraced uncertainty in new situations, and those that have military backgrounds, or have faced other trials have often become successful entrepreneurs.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
No matter how much of a genius you may have been in school, or the great invention you thought up, there is so much that new entrepreneurs do not know. Or even don’t know that they don’t know.
Great investors that have the experience and know-how to scale companies want to back founders that are going to listen to the advice available to them, which will enable the company to be its most successful.
Being bold and opinionated can be a good thing in some ways. Though, being too arrogant is an Achilles heel that can take down any business, career, or empire.
While many founders may have high IQs, have come through great educational institutions, or hold higher-level degrees, these are not necessarily prerequisites for being a successful entrepreneur.
Though, having some reasonable level of intelligence is essential for being able to make wise business decisions, and to manage others’ money well.
Those investing in startups are doing so because they are shooting for really big results. They are searching for those extreme outliers that can produce uncommon results, incredible growth, and rare outcomes.
While you have to have a foot, in reality, to make your aspirations real, being highly ambitious is something that startup investors are definitely looking for.
They are looking for those pushing the limits of what’s possible, and who are thinking really big.
Passion persuades. Charisma is contagious.
Investors want to invest in founders that are very excited and driven to make their ventures a success.
That passion and drive will get them through the tough times. It will help them recruit others to bring their resources to the mission. As well as to sell customers and turn this idea into a real business, which is highly valuable.
This is even better if anchored in a real personal pain point that will keep them going, even when the work is really hard.
Investors often like to pose terms and questions that test the commitment of the founders that are pitching them. Or, in some cases, they may just assume from the presentation that the founders are not committed enough to make it or warrant their funding.
To make a startup work, it may take moving to another city or country, working long nights, and putting all of their personal financial resources on the line. Are you that committed?
Investors also like to test founders’ abilities to be decisive when they are pitching. It is a critical trait for success.
You must be able to make decisions and make them quickly. Even without having all the data you would like.
Making a decision is normally far better than not making one. It is more important than whether you make the best decision or not. If you move fast, at least you can correct it quickly as well.
Being a leader is one of the most important traits of a startup founder. Later on, you may have a complete executive team, including bringing in an outside CEO. You may ultimately step back to being the chairman of the board. Still, you must be a leader that people will listen to and follow.
It is going to take a team to build this company and make it a success. Which means you need people to come along on the journey. Including customers, workers, vendors, and investors.
You need to be able to cast the vision, set the culture, and keep them going.
Being self-aware is highly valuable as a startup founder. Knowing yourself is key to really making great decisions.
You need to know your own strengths and weaknesses. You can still be bold and ambitious, but humble and able to listen and take feedback. As well as to hire and lean on those who are stronger where you are not. In fact, self-awareness is certainly a strength that investors will value in you as a founder.
Ideas, ambition, and passion are all great. Yet, they can all mean nothing without focus.
Focus is absolutely essential for actually being able to execute, and make things happen. It is often the number one differentiator between successful entrepreneurs and startups, and all the rest.
How To Convey Founder Personality When Pitching Startup Investors
As founder personality is so important when fundraising for your startup, how do you convey those good ones your founding team represents when pitching investors?
Just having these traits in yourself or among your founding team isn’t enough. Just like having all the right metrics and strengths in your business and product isn’t enough unless you convey that clearly to your customers and prospective investors.
Conveying Founder Personality In Your Verbal Pitch
These points are obviously easier to get across when you are able to pitch investors personally. Whether that is live on stage, via video meeting, or even through a recorded video pitch.
As you tell the story of how you came across the problem, resolved to solve it, battled through the odds to get to this stage, and paint the vision of the future, you can overtly and subconsciously convey many of these personality traits.
Many of the others are conveyed in how you speak and present, and field investor questions and offers. Again, it can be wise to not only practice until you are confident, with a professionally written script, but to get expert feedback before you go live with it too.
There are even professional speaking coaches and fundraising consultants who can help you nail this, and get the funding you need.
The success or failure of any startup ultimately depends on whether the founder has what it takes to build a company. If you need more information about the qualities of a highly successful entrepreneur, check out this video I have created.
Conveying Founder Personality In Your Pitch Deck
Many of these traits will show up throughout your pitch deck slides too.
Great examples of this are your financial success so far, your financial projections, the advisors you’ve been able to bring on board, your specified use of funds, and the milestones you are aiming for.
Your team profile pictures and bios may be some of the more obvious slides where your personalities will show up.
While space is limited on these slides, you can also link out to your team’s bios on their LinkedIn profiles, and resumes in your virtual data room. Consider revisiting these assets and having an expert copywriter touch them up with these factors in mind. Ask how they can help bring out these traits and make them more obvious to investors.
You may also build on this by expanding on your story on your company website. Your about page can help detail your story, how you found the problem, assembled a strong team to lead and champion this solution, and where you are going.
Your social media links and blog feed can be used to further demonstrate your founding team’s personality. Be strategic with your next posts and content calendar. Look for the gaps, and opportunities to build on what you have.
Just as you can do with the podcasts, you appear as a guest, and what you talk about when being interviewed for magazine and news articles.
Then, even before investors open up your pitch deck, you may use your cover letter and pitch messages, to highlight and convey these points and why you are the founding team to bet on, even before beginning to swipe through your slides.
After your initial pitch, you may continue to build on these factors through your follow-up messages, and investor updates. Show how you’ve addressed new challenges, and are demonstrating these traits as you work to solve them.
Founder personality may be more important to your startup’s ability to raise funding than you thought.
Understanding what investors are looking for in fundable startup founders is vital for successful fundraising campaigns. Then not only be sure that your co-founding team has the right traits, but that you are conveying them well too.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that you can do this. Not only on your pitch deck slides, but before you pitch, and throughout your follow-up as well.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.