Fundraising Tips & Tricks

Emad Hasan
COO & CoFounder,


About this presentation

This was presented to MBA students at the UCLA Anderson accelarator in fall of 2019. These are my personal opinions about Do’s and Don’ts of fundraising based on my team’s experience of raising a $5M seed round for Retina.

Retina is a startup based out of Santa Monica. We help B2C businesses compute customer lifetime value at the individual customer level.

About Me

Emad Hasan

  • Education: Penn State (BSEE), RPI (MSEE), UCLA (MBA)
  • Engineering Life: Sikorsky Helicopters, Boeing
  • Data Science Life: Booz Allen (Sr. Consultant), PayPal (Analytics Product Manager), Facebook (Head of Marketing Ops), Xpertly (Founder), Retina (Founder)



  • When to fundraise
  • Build a process
  • Getting to VC first touch
  • The first VC conversation
  • Demo, Pitch & pitch deck
  • The Due Diligence
  • Resources

When to fundraise

Do not fundraise when you do not have the right cofounders

  • At the minium have a CTO and CEO spending 100% of their time on the idea

Do not fundraise if you have not built and tested MVP and don’t have any numbers to share for traction

Do not fundraise If your market opporunity is not super large/compelling

Do fundraising when you have one to two years of personal runway

Do fundraising when you know something about the world (some secret insight) that no one else does

Do fundraising when you absolutely need the money to execute fast (product development, production, marketing)

Do know your goals when chatting with VC: Get a term sheet or follow on terms

How to connect with VCS

Do not cold email VCs directly

Do not send them your pitch deck

Do not pitch to VCs who have invested in competitors without first bringing this up

Do connect and build relationships with other founders who have fundraised

Do ask founder friends for introductions when they believe in you

Do build a process for managing VCs through the process

Process Before You Get Started Put a Process in Place

(User Trello or some other free tool)

  1. Investor List (Start with Signal)
  2. Introduction
  3. Initial Conversation
  4. Ready to Pitch
  5. Pitched
  6. Explicitly Interested
  7. Term Sheet

What Should be On VC Card

  • Firm Name
  • POC
  • What they Specialize in
  • What portfolio companies are interesting
  • Fund Size
  • When Did They Last Raise
  • Do They Lead
  • What Round

What Criteria You Should Look For

  • Success with companies of your type
  • Knowledge of sales cycles
  • Funds early stage companies and works with newish founders
  • Sees long term partnership rather than transactional
  • Focused on growing the pie vs taking bigger portion of the pie
  • Access to possible clients and talent

The first VC conversation

Do not bring up the pitch deck in the first meeting, think of it as a meta-pitch session

Do use this meeting to set up a time for a demo to the VC firm where all/most partners are invited

Do not try to use flattery to win over the VCs

Do talk to VCs from their point of view

  • Ask them about their fund (thesis & size)
  • When it was raised, how much of the fund is left to invest
  • Have they made any investments in your space they can talk about
  • What kind of check do they write
  • Do they ever lead or like to follow
  • How are their LPs and what are their expectations

Do not ask VCs for money

Do ask VCs for advice and connections to potential clients and experts

Do structure and keep control of the conversation

Do keep the first conversation to less than 30 minutes. If more time is needed, set up a follow-up time.

Do ask them if you can be of help

Do think about two values you can provide to VCs that helps you stay in touch

  1. Introductions to talent for their portfolio companies
  2. Potential intros to deals (however, be careful about this. You may lose credibility if these are bad intros)

Do keep in mind that every word you say builds or diminishes your credibility

Demo, Pitch & pitch deck

Do not worry about the pitch deck more than the (demo + team + market opportunity)

Do not show up late and unprepared

Do have a usable demo ready

Do follow Guy Kawasaki’s 30-20-10 rule

Do follow Guy’s guide for pitch slides

Do not spend more than 4 minutes on slides before getting to the demo

Do spend a lot of time showing the demo

Do not try to have a detailed financial model in the deck

Do leave time for Q&A

Do share details of the round

  • How much you are raising
  • What kind of dilution you are confortable with and why
  • How many term sheets commits you already have

Do explicitly ask, if they are interested in the round and get a sense if they will lead or not

Do ask what their diligence process is if they are interested

Do ask how long they could expect diligence to take (how fast can they move?)

Do not let the VC control timeline and force a hard no over a maybe

Do ask what concerns would need to be addressed before you invest in such an idea

The Due Diligence

Do set up a due-diligence room (DD) with all relevant materials (deck, financials, bank statements, references, etc)

Do not lie or make up any numbers

Do treat this is as a learning process

Do not expect this process to be fast

Do ask for intros to the other VCs while in this phase


Do read book “Venture Deals” by Brad Feld

Do read book “The Art of Start” by Guy Kawasaki

Do not read “The 10x Rule”

Do check of list of VCs on Signal

Thank you