From sports medicine to SEO to writing a #1 bestselling book on raising capital, Tim Cooley has had almost every job imaginable. The foundation of each job he’s taken on? Solving problems. Even as a young man in the Marine Corps, he took outdated processes and made them better.
Tim worked his way from digital marketing to investor relations, along with his own entrepreneurial efforts. After decades of working with entrepreneurs and seeing how successful startups convinced investors to give them money, he wrote “The Pitch Deck Book: How To Present Your Business And Secure Investors.”
In the last 18 months to 2 years, investment capital has had some makeovers. Just a few years ago, an investor’s money could go a lot farther than it can now. The sheer amount of marketing channels—TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more—has made starting a lean company much harder.
Founders feel like they need to have a presence on every social media channel so they can reach their target audience and be relevant. But to do that, you need to essentially hire a whole digital marketing team. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars just in marketing.
So, while advanced technology has made it possible for founders to spend less money building their product or service, the needs of the community, or consumer, are much larger.
Another vital development in fundraising is that sustained capital is harder to obtain. Companies are burning through funding so fast but not looking forward to how they’ll get their next round of funding. In short, founders need to do more with less money.
Earl and Tim share their advice to founders who are looking to secure funding. The foundation of your business should be growth. You might have a great idea, but if you’re not spending less than you’re making, you’ll never be sustainable.
Investors need to see that you’ve nailed the fundamentals—you’ve found your market and people are willing to buy your product. You might think your business will help a lot of people but if the proof isn’t in the sales, you might not make it very far.
You may have a good idea but if you don’t have a lot of growth that’s showing you have a positive market fit, your funding won’t take you anywhere
Tim says the biggest mistake he’s seen from thousands of pitches is this: founders aren’t communicating the problem well enough. If you don’t show what the problem is and how your business solves it in the first 30 seconds, you’re out of luck.
You should start by connecting yourself to the problem. “I’ve been in this industry for the last 5 years and I’ve noticed a ‘blank’ problem. My business wants to solve it by … ” And then outline your solution. Tim claims that 80–85% of people don’t communicate the problem well enough, which means they can’t communicate the solution and market.
Tim also suggests that you should end your pitch with the “ask slide” rather than a “thank you slide.” When you end with the ask slide, you’re prompting questions about your plan, how much you’re asking for, etc.
Some pitches even leave off the revenue model slide or competition slide. Find everything you need to include in Tim’s book, “The Pitch Deck Book: How To Present Your Business And Secure Investors.”
When you know your strengths, you can use them to counterbalance your weaknesses. As a founder, it’s easy to think you can do it all because you often wear many hats. But if you know you feel uncomfortable with sales, leverage other people’s strengths.
It’s also important to close your knowledge gap. Earl taught that your greatest bottleneck is you—your skills, knowledge, mindset, beliefs, behaviors, and habits. Lean into the discomfort of recognizing you’re not perfect at everything and find people who will complement your weaknesses.
Listen to the entire podcast episode here and learn more from Tim Cooley about convincing people to give you money! And if you’re about to put a pitch deck together, his book is a must-read.