roundup: 7 VCs pitching, AI best practices, zero-based budgeting

by Ana Lopez

It is too early to determine whether the demise of the SVB heralds a new era for venture capital, but based on anecdotal evidence, off-the-record discussions and conversations with colleagues, it appears we are back to business as usual . -turnover startup fundraising concerns.

Not a scientific sample, but I noticed several investors signaling on Twitter this week that they remain interested in talking to founders who are still in the ideation phase.

I’m shy about sharing hot takes, but here’s one: With contagion under control, the VC community feels good writing small checks for upfront monetization startups, but Series A and above? More than mean.

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Before Silicon Valley Bank crashed, I asked seven VCs about the startups they’re currently willing to support, how they prefer to be approached, and if they could share any tips for aspiring founders.

As long as this downturn continues, this Q&A for investors will be a monthly TC+ column. If you’re a recently laid-off employee considering going on strike on your own, an H-1B employee who’s having a blast, or just looking for tips and advice that can help you connect with early-stage investors, please read and share.

If you are an investor who would like to be featured in future columns, please email [email protected] with “How to pitch me” in the subject line.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to answer these questions in such detail. There’s a lot of tactical advice here and a lot more to come.

Here’s who participated:

Nice weekend,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager,
@your protagonist

Best practices for changing times: how founders should leverage AI and ML in 2023

As startups navigate a disruptive season, they must innovate to stay competitive.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning may finally be able to make that happen.

Image Credits: Getty Images

We don’t post many articles promoting basic practices. Suggestions like “listen to your customers” and “make data-driven decisions” are so generic that they are difficult to implement.

But with AI-powered solutions providing search results, producing poems and generating artwork on-demand, startups need a plan to create custom user experiences, said Ab Gaur, founder and CEO of Verticurl.

“While excessive or useless customer data can clog content pipelines, the right information can enable hyper-personalization at scale,” he writes.

Zero-Based Budgeting: A Proven Framework for Extending Runways

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is one of the most aggressive budgeting methods for keeping burns to the bare minimum.

Image Credits: Getty Images

In this environment, making every dollar count is critical, but pulling back too much in the wrong places can reduce momentum throughout your organization.

Instead of simply trimming a bit, more startups are turning to zero-based budgeting, an aggressive tactic in which founders go back to square one for each budget period “to verify that all line items are relevant and cost-effective,” writes FP&A analyst Healy Jones .

“The best founders look for a framework to strategically reduce burns while keeping their startup’s value drivers functioning.”

5 strategies for biotech startups to survive a down market

To survive, it is essential to explore alternative funding methods rather than relying solely on classic fundraising.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Starting a biotech company is a huge undertaking. Compared to a SaaS startup, the investment required to build a team, secure research funding, and ensure regulatory compliance can be staggering.

Dr. James Coates, “a venture capitalist who specializes in early stage life science companies,” says biotech founders today have to look beyond their investor networks to find extra cash.

In his latest TC+ post, he shares five action items “that can help your biotech startup navigate a cooling fundraising environment.”

Pitch Deck Teardown: StudentFinance’s $41 Million Series A Deck

Image Credits: Student finance

Last month, we reported that European fintech startup StudentFinance secured a $41 million Series A funding to expand its service, which offers education funding through income-sharing agreements (ISAs).

This week, Haje Jan Kamps took a look at the company’s Series A deck, minus redactions for “sensitive slides on revenue, costs, and unit economics:”

  • Cover
  • Mission
  • Possibility
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Value proposition part 1
  • Value proposition part 2
  • Business model
  • Technology
  • statistics
  • Road map (labeled “expansion”)
  • Geographical Expansion (labeled “expansion”)
  • Growth history and trajectory (labeled as “expansion”)
  • Team
  • Contact

Dear Sophie: How can I return to the United States as a founder?

lone figure at the entrance of a maze hedge with an American flag in the middle

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/

Dear Sophie,

I lived and worked in the United States on an L-1B for a year and then switched to an H-1B for 2.5 years before moving back to India (where I am a citizen) and starting a startup.

Now I want to go back to the US to raise money for my startup. What are my options for returning to the US as a founder?

– Fast moving founder

‘Trust is hard to earn’: SVB closure could disproportionately affect black founders


Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Silicon Valley Bank’s federal takeover means former clients can access their money, but some Black Tech founders are concerned the closure will make their climb even steeper.

Because SVB’s startup-focused approach lowered barriers to banking services, it was a popular choice for many black founders, Dominic-Madori Davis reports.

“Silicon Valley Bank was certainly willing to push the boundaries and see what they could do, including investing in Black funds,” said Brian Backeen, co-founder of Lightship Capital. “We don’t see that commitment from other banks.”

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