The Rules of Pitching a VC

If you want money, ask for advice.

No one likes a beggar, not even firms designed to give out money. Venture capitalist are made to seek investment opportunities and pour billions of dollars into great businesses, but many businesses never receive those dollars. We won’t pretend VC investments are as diverse racially and economically as they ought to be, but our goal is to prepare you to efficiently pitch to a venture capitalist once given the opportunity to. As a black and women-owned business, we understand the scarcity of black and/or women vc-backed funding. Tchuento has had its fair share of ups and down in raising capital, but just by following the advice we’re about to share, we at least increased our chances of being funded.

Rule #1: Let the VC come to you. If you must go to them, be referred.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but you’ll have a greater success rate in getting through the door if the VC finds you first. It’s not that all VCs don’t want unsolicited proposals, but they get so many that it’ll take a lot more than a well-worded message for them to click on your information and invite you in. You’ll need to do something that makes you stand out enough for them to 1) read your message in its entirety, 2) see potential, 3) propose a meeting with you, 4) care about you and your business, 5) share with their firm 6) invest. Chances of receiving an investment are much better if your company is doing so well that VCs need you. You want venture capitalists to know that you’ll be fine without them and not the other way around. So when you continuously cold call or seek an investment without any leads or referrals, it’ll be much more difficult to prove that the VC needs you.

Rule #2: You’ll have more leverage if you can hold onto as much equity as you can.

If you can scale your business on your own without outside capital, keep your equity. You’ve probably heard the saying, “it’s better to have a small piece of a large pie than a large piece of a small pie,” but that’s not always true. We urge you to remember that if you don’t need to share your pie at all, then just keep the whole pie. Most startups or early-stage companies want to be backed by a venture capitalist but at what cost? Truly evaluate if the outside investment is beneficial for the growth of your business. You should only ever accept venture capital if the value added after the investment is far greater than the company’s future value would have increased on its own. There are many companies that scaled on their own with no outside investments, albeit they were mostly retail or service-based companies, it’s not impossible.

Rule #3: Pitching is an art. Be creative, show passion, know your numbers.

Your company has shown promise and you’ve made it through the VC door. You’re IN – pat your team in the back! Just don’t screw it up. Pitching to a VC is very similar to selling something. Most people don’t buy from a sketchy salesman. VCs want to feel like you care about your product, understand the risks, and can be coachable. The best way to show you’ll make a good investment is by being passionate about your product, adequately explaining the problem you’re solving, showing through data how your solution to the problem is the best one, and being fit to scale. Do your due diligence and get to know your VC audience: their interests, firm’s portfolio, success rate. 

The one thing that matters the most is that you know your numbers. Not only should you know your numbers, but you should know them so well that you’re in love with them. VCs think MONEY. If they can’t be certain that you’ll make them money, they won’t give you theirs. If you’re wondering what the numbers are, here are a few: product/market metrics (total available market, market share, market value), profitability metrics (monthly recurring revenue, renewals, burn rate), customer metrics (customer acquisition cost, lifetime value, churn rate).  If you’re reading this and your company doesn’t have customers or is pre-revenue, then be more creative in expressing your numbers. Find a way to show that you CAN have customers and you CAN make money. Some suggestions for a pre-revenue business: have a landing page with “fake” payment sign-ups, conduct surveys with existing users, have purchase intents.

Rule #4: Not all pitches are equal.

In 2018, VC deals generated around $85 billion. Only 2.2% was allocated to women founders. Just about 1% was allocated to black founders. Over 70% was allocated to white founders. It’s no surprise that if you’re a woman or fall within a racial minority group, VC funding is highly unlikely. Don’t get discouraged, the scales can’t shift if everyone gives up. Continue to persist and stay driven until you hear “yes, done deal”. Now that you know that you might face more odds, it’s really important to always be ten steps ahead: follow rules 1-3. It’s unfortunate, but the truth is, if the majority of VC deals are led by groups of people who do not look like you nor would advocate for you, it is imperative that you eliminate reasons as to why they can overlook you.

Rule #5: Stay true to your vision.

The value a VC can add to your business is just as important as the value you can provide to them. Don’t relinquish from your company’s objectives unless pivoting is the most ideal next step. You will likely hear “no” until you hear “yes”. Just because a VC doesn’t see your business potential or is willing to align with your vision, it doesn’t mean that every VC will react the same. While pitching, conduct yourself as a leader and an advocate for your product. If your numbers are good, your vision is good, your team is good, and your business has potential – don’t let one VC’s apprehension to investing in you deter you from achieving your dream. A lot of VCs will claim to bet on innovation and risks, but the majority of deals are done with companies that are safe in nature and can guarantee a non-threatening return. Show a venture capitalist why not betting on you is a huge mistake and the smart ones will place a bet.

Navigating the Tech Industry as a Minority-Owned Business

Anne Woappi –  CTO
Elise Woappi – CEO


There are many hurdles to overcome as a startup founder. Hurdles such as financing your business, acquiring users/customers, marketing your company for the world to know of, expanding your resources to sustain operations all while balancing your mental and emotional health. These challenges are proven to be difficult regardless of who the founder is; yet the degree of difficulty varies based on who the founder is. A men-led startup will face different obstacles than a women-led one. A minority-owned startup will face different obstacles than a white-owned one. The challenges are can be subtle and sometimes outright dominant.

Being black women in tech means knowing that when we walk into a room, the bias may be apparent in how we’re treated, criticized, examined, and sometimes rated. The opportunities for business growth that are presented to us are sometimes limited in comparison to our male counterparts. It certainly means that we often have to and are expected to work twice as hard to get the same outcome as our white counterparts. It is important to differentiate between being a woman in tech vs. a man, and a black woman in tech vs. a woman because in order for the tech industry to truly be innovative and inclusive, we must first acknowledge that there is a racial and gender disparity that cannot be overlooked. This racial and gender disparity masks itself in many ways, often making it challenging for those fighting for an equal world to make a lot of progress.

How racial and gender disparity are present in the tech industry – our observations as black women:

  • A funding source is open for minorities. Of the applicants: the majority are black-identifying, some are brown-identifying, and a select few are of East Asian descent. Of those selected to receive the funds, less than 1% are black. As black women, this is troubling as we struggle to understand why the funds were disproportionately allocated.
  • An event is created as a means to form an opportunity for diverse conversations and networking for entrepreneurs. The event hosts and organizers put more effort targeting non-marginalized groups and/or specific genders or career paths. This form of advertising and marketing limits the selection pool for the attendees and sponsors of the event.
  • A co-working/networking community is developed to bring networking and diverse resources to gender-specific or racial-specific founders. The cost of entry is abnormally high, the selected applicants are not diverse in experience, race, socioeconomic status, and/or physical stability.

How we navigate the industry:

  1. We lean on each other. The struggles and challenges that we face, we face together. We pull from our own experiences, knowledge, and guidance to lead our business as a cohesive team.
  2. We apply, apply, apply. No matter what our fears or setbacks may be, we always make sure to submit applications for opportunities that target our demographic as founders. We apply to accelerators, incubators, conferences, summits, panels, retreats, and other funding or networking sources whenever we fit their target applicant demographic.
  3. When we’re able to, we attend and participate in all startup discussions regardless of the target demographic. The resources shared in the world are meant to be consumed by all! We refuse to limit ourselves when our vision is so grand.
  4. We maintain a positive, self-reliant, and hardworking attitude. For every application we submit, every event we attend, every grant we apply to, 100% effort is always given or executed. Our best may not be the best out of all applicants combined, but it is our best and we’re content with that.

A few resources/communities we utilize:

Never let the obstacles and naysayers change your course of action. Remain secure and confident in your approach to lead your company. You are not the first to have faced discrimination, bigotry, sexism, etc…and you most likely won’t be the last, but it’s important to always be THE person who rises above the hate and carries on.

Changing the Web Industry with Artificial Intelligence

We had a vision to make web development easily available, understandable, and usable to everyone in the world regardless of their technology skills or awareness. The world of technology is rapidly expanding, and with that expansion comes a great sense of confusion, uncertainty, and expenditure. But just because technology is expanding fast, it does not mean that people should be left behind – we should all be a part of the progress and we should all feel that we have a say, an understanding, and even some contribution to what’s happening. These past few months, the Tchuento team worked tirelessly as we set out to develop a software that would elevate the discrimination and hurdles individuals face daily while navigating the world of technology.

We thought, what if we could create a software that anyone (and we mean anyone) could use to build their own website, manage their social media accounts, and monitor all of their online activity without needing to do anything but register? We didn’t want to create just another website builder, just another social media marketing tracker, just another google analytics platform. We set out to create THE software – one that would allow people with disabilities, elders struggling with employment due to ageism in the professional sector, and underrepresented populations lacking appropriate resources an opportunity to take back control of their online presence. With Tchuento, you’ll now be able to build and update your website in a matter of seconds by simply clicking on a button. You’ll be able to create, update, link, navigate, and manage all of your social media content without having to log in constantly to manually input your data. You’ll be able to see how frequently you appear in web searches, when/how your data is being shared or distributed, monitor which websites are currently tracking your data, and access any online accounts that you’re currently registered with. Our software is so intelligent that it’ll remind itself to make updates, fix any online errors on your behalf, and send you weekly breakdowns of your online activity, and it will also track your full online activity 24/7.

We know this is a lot to take in and you might be wondering what about your privacy? We’d like you to know that although our A.I. is very intuitive and intelligent, we have a team of diverse experts that will monitor the software constantly to ensure that no implicit bias or confusion impact our platform. You can opt out of any features at your will, cancel your account whenever you want, and we will not sell your data to third parties. Our team and our software will work collaboratively, not one without the other. This is to ensure that human eyes, intuition, and knowledge are still prevalent.

We’re launching in March 2019 and are accepting pre-registered users – why not give us a try? Sign Up HERE or register here.

We’re just changing the world. We hope you join.