YC's Advice on Pitching Your Startup

At SaaStr this year, Michael Seibel, managing director and group partner at Y Combinator, knows a thing or two about pitching startups. With experience founding and selling two startups, Twitch (acquired by Amazon for $970M) and Socialcam (acquired by Autodesk for $60M), as well as advising and investing in hundreds more through YC, Seibel has seen thousands of startup pitches.

In this talk, he shares his advice for pitching your company to investors when you're pre-product-market fit. Seibel stresses being concise, clear, and easy to understand above all else.

What Your Company Does

Seibel says you need a simple 2 sentence explanation of what your company does, plus a specific example. Don't use jargon - explain it in simple terms an investor would understand. Give an example that illustrates the problem and solution clearly.

Your Team

The purpose of the team slide is sharing credentials and relevant accomplishments. Don't tell long stories. List roles and impressive credentials concisely. If possible, relate team members' own experiences with the problem your startup solves.


Your traction slide should explain what you've accomplished since starting your company. Time is key - impress investors by getting things done quickly. Don't fake traction with advisor surveys or unrelated work.

Unique Insights

Share non-obvious things you've learned about the problem, customers or solution. Back up claims with specific examples and data.

Market Size

Forget big, unsupported numbers. Show your work on the market size math. Explain number of users, pricing, and value compared to other products. This shows your expertise.

The Ask

You must explicitly ask for money and say who else has invested. Share revenue/growth goals for the funding, not plans to hire.

Overall Pitch Mistakes

Order points from most to least impressive. Make it conversational - get investors talking. Pay attention to their reactions. Simple, boring slides keep the focus on you.

In summary, conciseness and clarity make a pitch stand out. Take Seibel's advice on crafting a compelling startup pitch. Now get out there and start pitching!

November 15, 2023
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