The DocSend Fundraising Network (DFN) provides warm intros for top quality founders to committed VCs who can lead their rounds. Based on our acceptance criteria (more on that below), we’re currently accepting about 20 percent of founders who apply. We also carefully vet every investor on the network to ensure they can write a lead check for a round.
If you’re looking to raise your Pre-seed, Seed, or Series A round, the DocSend Fundraising Network offers a way to get your deck in front of investors with a personal introduction. Based on our initial learnings from founders who’ve gotten positive traction via the DFN, here’s our top advice on how to help your DFN application.
1. Be ready to meet with an investor in the next two weeks
The DocSend Fundraising Network is set up to facilitate introductions between founders who are actively fundraising and investors that can write a lead check. That means when you apply to the DFN you need to be prepared to meet with an investor in the next two weeks. We know the timing of your fundraise is important, so make sure you’re applying to the DFN at the right time.
We recommend that your business and deck are in a place that’s investor ready. This should also mean that you’ve already gotten some feedback from investors or founders in your network. We’re currently only reviewing submissions once for the DFN. So, if you think your deck needs work or you’re waiting on a new customer to close to help your traction numbers, you should probably hold off as you won’t be able to resubmit.
Once you’re admitted to the network you can be matched to 3-6 investors immediately. Our goal is to put you in the best negotiating position possible by facilitating multiple introductions at once. However, you can book your investor meetings for anytime that works with your schedule. Our CEO Russ Heddleston has previously recommended booking all your meetings within a two week window. This not only gives you the best opportunity to pique the interest of multiple VCs, it also means you can spend more time building your company.
2. Adhere to pitch deck best practices based on our fundraising research
To get admitted to the DocSend Fundraising Network your deck goes through our Pitch Deck Analyzer. The analyzer is based on our analysis of thousands of decks and millions of interactions across our platform. We’ve taken that data and narrowed it down to 11 criteria that we’ve found have a material impact on whether a pitch deck can lead to a meeting and a term sheet down the line. Submitting a top quality pitch deck is step one to getting into the DFN.
Here are 5 key mistakes we see applicants make in their pitch decks (and how to fix them).
- They don’t include a Why Now? slide. Your Why Now slide should create a sense of urgency for an investor. Explain why right now (not in six month or a year) is the best time to invest. You can address recent market trends, new technology, or a recent tipping point.
- They don’t properly introduce their Team. Your Team slide should show an investor why this is the right team to build your product. Highlight relevant experience, add pictures and job titles, and always link to your LinkedIn profiles so investors can investigate further if they want to.
- They don’t present a viable Business Model. Your Business Model slides should show your unit economics, who your target audience is (B2B or D2C, enterprise or SMB), and how you plan to reach that audience.
- They show too much or not enough of their Product. Our research shows that investors prefer to invest in teams that already have a product built (even pre-seed investors). Devote at least 3-5 slides to showing mock ups, wireframes, screenshots, or even a video demo of your product and what it does.
- They don’t properly highlight their Traction. Even if you haven’t made money you still need to add at least two slides showing momentum. That can be customer feedback, letters of intent, daily active users.
If you need more information on building a great pitch deck you can go here or download our research here.
3. Get the best matches by submitting your pitch deck and all qualifying information in your first email
To be able to properly match you when inside the DocSend Fundraising Network, we need to know what round you’re raising, where you’re located, how much money you’re looking to raise and who recommended you (note: it’s not required to be recommended by someone, but if you came from an accelerator or an investor recommended us it can help in determining your matches). We will typically find all that information in your pitch deck, but if your deck doesn’t include it, please put it in your email submission as that can reduce the time between submission and acceptance.
Your deck needs to be in a DocSend link so we can analyze it. Currently, the DFN is set up for companies raising Pre-seed, Seed, or Series A. We have a submission policy of one deck per founder with no resubmissions, so please submit your final deck and not draft or teaser ones.
After you submit we will review your deck within 72 hours. If you’re accepted into the DFN, you will receive matches within a week. Please note that if you’re not ready for an introduction, you should hold off on applying to the DFN.
If you’re not accepted into the DocSend Fundraising Network, you will still receive detailed feedback on your deck with actionable suggestions for how to improve it.
4. Stand out to investors by doing your due diligence first
When you receive your potential matches through the DocSend Fundraising Network you have full control over which VCs receive your deck. We ask that you write a unique introduction of yourself and your business for each VC. We’ve written some best practices on how to do that here. It’s a good idea to do your research on each VC we’re introducing you to, and to write a unique intro for each one. This will help you stand out and can start your relationship on the right foot. We also recommend creating a unique DocSend link for each investor so you’re better able to track how they engage with your pitch deck (find out why here).
Good luck and we look forward to processing your deck!