TechCrunch+ roundup: Paid acquisition basics, most-valued startups, 10 investors open to pitches


There’s a direct correlation between the size and strength of your network and your chances of success.

In fact, it’s relatively easy to connect with reputable investors — most firms’ websites have email addresses and contact forms.

There are a myriad of reasons why startups fail to get off the ground, but it generally boils down to three things:

  • you don’t have a billion-dollar idea.
  • you’re pitching the wrong investors.
  • they’re not sure if you can execute against the plan.

This month, all ten “How to pitch me” participants shared their investment theses, along with tactical advice for nontechnical founders and the questions they expect entrepreneurs to ask them during pitch meetings:


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  • Vivek Ramaswami, partner, Madrona
  • Monique Woodard, founding partner and managing director, Cake Ventures
  • Adam Struck, founder and managing partner, Struck Capital
  • Jenny Lefcourt, general partner, Freestyle Capital
  • Champ Suthipongchai, general partner, Creative Ventures
  • Latif Peracha, general partner, M13
  • Rich Maloy, managing partner, SpringTime Ventures
  • Harley Miller, co-founder and managing partner, Left Lane Capital
  • Blair Garrou, co-founder and managing director, Mercury Fund
  • Kristin Wilson, venture partner, Oui Capital

Thanks very much to everyone who took the time to respond!

If you’re an early-stage investor who’d like to be included in future columns, email [email protected] with “How to pitch me” in the subject line.

Have a great week,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+
@yourprotagonist

Paid acquisition: The #1 way to find product-market fit

Fishingnet is in an aquarium full of goldenfish. Clean white background.

Image Credits: c-foto (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Spending money on Google AdWords, Meta, or with an influencer takes some getting used to.

Paid acquisition takes time to generate positive returns, but growth expert Jonathan Martinez says it’s still “the most efficient and frictionless way possible” to achieve product-market fit.

In this week’s column, he explains how to determine which channels work best with your offerings and breaks down his “battle-tested waitlist method” for capturing and leveraging user interest using tools like Canva and Leadpages.

The ‘AI arms race’ is about more than who will lead the industry

Lorenzo Thione is a managing director at Gaingels where he oversees investments in sustainability and artificial intelligence.

Lorenzo Thione hopes to see more support for the LGBTQ+ community within venture.

Gaingels Managing Director Lorenzo Thione talked to Dominic Madori-Davis about his work leading sustainability and AI investments for the syndicate and his journey as an openly gay investor.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Thione shared his views on today’s frothy AI market, spoke about where the sector is headed, and emphasized why it’s important to support founders who identify as LGBTQ+.

“They simply were not getting any access to the venture engine because of who they were,” he said.

Here are the most richly valued startup types in today’s early-stage venture market

bridge financing, an investor dangling a coin over reaching hands

Image Credits: z_wei / Getty Images

I am not an early-stage investor, which is why I was so surprised to learn that video-game startups led the pack with regard to the median amount of seed money raised in Q1 2023.

“Transportation came in second, followed by food, biotech, data analytics, and then CRM and SaaS,” reports Alex Wilhelm, who reviewed numbers from Carta.

At the Series A level, renewables, logistics and hardware startups topped the list.

“Don’t worry, the answer here is not just ‘build an AI startup,’ even if that does appear to be pretty solid advice for avoiding a down round.”

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Venture firm Black Seed raises £5M inaugural fund to invest in Black founders

Black Seed announces today a $6.2 million raise

Image Credits: Black Seed

Between 2009 and 2019, VCs operating in the U.K. directed 0.24% of their funding to Black founders.

“That’s worse in some ways than in the United States,” writes Dominic Madori-Davis. London-based Black Seed, an early-stage VC firm, recently raised £5 million to support Black entrepreneurs.

“We exist as a tech fund and a community,” said founder Karl Lokko. “We exist to bridge that gap and give Black founders inclusion.”

Deal Dive: Finally, a startup building a network for those who could benefit the most

network, professionals of color, retention

Image Credits: Getty Images

A decade ago, Porter Braswell started Jopwell, an online community for people in tech “from underrepresented communities and backgrounds,” reports Rebecca Szkutak.

But expanding access doesn’t solve every problem.

“Retention is a major challenge and still remains so,” says Braswell, who’s now launching 2045, a career platform that will support workers between 30 and 45 years old with coaching, advice and events.

“It’s very taxing to be a professional of color in this country,” he said.

“If you’re a professional in the middle stage of your career and you look up and don’t see someone who looks like you, it is exhausting.”





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