Congrats on starting your own business! If you’re curious about how seed fundraising works, check out A Guide to Seed Fundraising by The Macro/Y Combinator. To learn about venture capital in general, you can browse through The Beginner’s Guide to VC by Mattermark. Paul Graham of Y Combinator also has a great blog post called How to Raise Money that you can read.
We invest in the Mountain West’s best companies at the seed stage, meaning we’re generally the first institutional money in.
We are not thematic investors—our portfolio covers software, consumer products, medical devices, and healthcare—but our companies do have one thing in common: passionate, gritty founders. We’re looking for scrappy entrepreneurs who are their own customers and who won’t stop until their problems are fixed. At the same time, we’re also looking for businesses that are a fit for venture capital, meaning they can provide a 10x return on our investment and have already shown signs of traction pre-investment. This doesn’t necessarily mean revenue traction--it can also be beta testers, raving customers, or interested partners.
We have 83 active portfolio companies as of Dec 2017. Approximately 85% of these are in Utah, and 65% are SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies. To see all of our investments, visit our Portfolio page.
Here at Kickstart, the investments we lead fall into one of two categories:
- Labs: pre-seed companies in their earliest stages, made up of an idea, a committed team with experience, and a little bit of traction
- Core: early stage companies raising a seed round ($1-2MM round) typically with ~$20K+ MRR or significant evidence of product/ market fit
We also occasionally participate in larger rounds like Series A’s for great companies, which we refer to as our Ramp investments.
Absolutely! We love that you’re interested so early on in your career. Check out Campus Founders Fund, a student-run VC fund sponsored by Kickstart that invests solely in student entrepreneurs. They make $10,000 to $20,000 convertible note investments with the friendliest terms you can find, and they also recruit every year from Utah’s universities for new team members.
The best thing we can do as investors (other than fund you, of course!) is give you our time and experience. In our Core investments, we generally take board seats, which means someone from the team will be able to offer you advice and guidance as your company grows.
Our investments also have access to deals and discounts from fellow portfolio companies, such as Grow (business intelligence dashboards) and Capshare (cap table management software), as well as services outside of our portfolio, such as AWS.
In addition, we like to give our portfolio companies access to each other so they can share knowledge. We do this through our community platform, Kickstart Collective, by bringing together CEOs and other executives in our portfolio for forums, learning sessions, and other events throughout the year.
The majority of the companies we see are referrals from our network, including our LPs, portfolio CEOs, co-investors, and members of the community. If we don’t have any mutual friends, you can email a copy of your pitch deck to email@example.com and we’ll reach out if we’re interested.
After you come in and pitch, we will discuss you and your business during partner meeting. You should hear back from us in a week or two as to whether or not we want to take next steps and move you into diligence.
We’ll provide you with a list of documents to send us, ask you to introduce us to customer references, and spend time with you discussing deal terms.
We schedule new company pitches for 45 minutes or less for you to tell us about your business and 15 minutes for us to ask questions. Pitch decks are great because they structure the conversation and they’re easy to refer to afterwards. But, the time is yours to use how you feel will show your company to best advantage. We’re casual and laidback here, so need to come in with a suit.
There are a few things we think should be in every pitch so that we know how to help you. This way, we can also spend our 15 minutes asking more questions about your vision and how your business works. These include:
- How much money you’re raising
- What terms you’re thinking of (valuation, etc.)
- What you’ll use the raise for
- How long it’ll last you
- The milestones you can cross with it
Previous money raised
- What the capitalization table looks like (who owns how much)
If you’re worried about the finer points of creating a pitch deck, there are dozens of resources on the web. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Five elements of a great pitch, by Rick Klau at Google Ventures
- The 9 Best Startup Pitch Decks of All Time, by Onboardly
- What We Learned from 200 Startups Who Raised $360M, by DocSend
- LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs, by Reid Hoffman at Greylock
- How to Design a Better Pitch Deck, by The Macro