The Ultimate List of Every Investor Question You Need to be Able to Answer

This guide was put together to give you tips and best practices for finding and approaching investors to increase your chances of getting a meeting. 

 

If I you need more help answering them – feel free to reach out to me.

 

Questions About Your Company Vision:

  1. What have you discovered (ie your fundamental insight) before everyone else?
  2. What do you realize that defies conventional wisdom or understanding?
  3. Are you creating a new category?
  4. What is the historical evolution of your category?
  5. What is your big vision?
  6. What will it take to achieve the big vision?

Questions About the Company:

  1. Where are you headquartered?
  2. Do you have offices anywhere else?
  3. How many employees do you have?
  4. When and where did you incorporate?

Questions About The Problem:

  1. What is the problem you’re solving?
  2. How do you know that it’s a problem?
  3. What are people currently doing to deal with this problem?
  4. How much is this problem worth? (Value? Spend?)
  5. Who is the audience/s that needs the problem solved?

Questions About the Solution:

  1. What is your solution?

  2. What’s unique about it?

  3. How does it work?

  4. Is it live?

  5. Are people using it already?

  6. Can you show me what it looks like?

  7. Do you have a demo?

  8. Can you tell me a user story?

  9. Who loves your product? (Testimonials!)

  10. How can I connect with 5 customers who have used your product or service?

  11. What’s the technology behind your solution?

  12. Who developed it?

  13. Do you have anything proprietary in the technology?

  14. Why do users care about your solution?

  15. What are the major product milestones?

  16. What are the key differentiated features of your solution?

  17. What are the key differentiated benefits of your solution?

  18. What have you learned from early versions of the solution?

  19. What are the two or three key features you plan to add?

  20. What are additional products/offerings you plan to develop?

Questions About Your Unfair Advantage/Secret Sauce:

  1. What’s your secret sauce?
  2. Is there anyone on the team with proprietary insight that made this idea possible?
  3. Is there anything patentable about the solution/technology?

Questions About Your Value Proposition:

  1. Whose lives do you make better?
  2. What are their lives like before use of your product?
  3. What is their fundamental pain without you?
  4. For those who pay you, what budget do you come out of?  What spend do you replace?
  5. Why will someone replace an existing spend by spending money with you?
  6. Why will someone spend money with you now, rather than wait?

Questions About Traction:

  1. How far along are you?
  2. What version of the product do you have?
  3. Do you have a proof of concept? (POC)
  4. Is there anything proprietary about it?
  5. Have you filed a patent? When?
  6. Are there any regulatory issues (i.e. FDA, ISO)?
  7. If so, what are you doing to be compliant?
  8. Have you raised any funding so far?
  9. Who’s invested in you?
  10. How much money have you invested yourself?
  11. What traction has the company gotten (whatever is relevant to you).
    • Sales
    • Traffic to the company’s website
    • Downloads
    • DAU (Daily active users)
    • MAU (Monthly active users)
    • Length of session
    • Returning users/repeat business
    • Engagement levels

Questions About Market Size/Value:

  1. What is your top-down available market? (TAM)

  2. What do you think represents the total served market of today? (SAM)

  3. Who is serving this market right now?

  4. If you define the customer as the person who pays you, what is the customer profile you cater to?

  5. Why does your company have high growth potential?

  6. What will your market look like in five years as a result of using your product or service?

  7. What is the market segment you’re going after? Why are you starting there?

Questions About Market Trends and Opportunities:

  1. Why are you doing this now?
  2. What recent trends make this possible now?
  3. What is the proof of these trends? (Reports, Quotes, Regulations, etc.)
  4. How do you track trends in your market?
  5. Why wasn’t this possible 5 years ago?
  6. Is there an inflection point in the market to leverage?
  7. How will the business unfold over time?

Questions About Go to Market:

  1. What are your Go to Market Strategies?
  2. How are you acquiring customers now?
  3. What is your Customer Acquisition Cost? (CAC)
  4. What’s the Lifetime Value of each client? (LTV)
  5. What is the typical sales cycle between initial customer contact and closing of a sale?
  6. What have you tapped into that is causing so many users to sign up so quickly?
  7. What percentage of the market do you plan to get over what period of time?
  8. How did you arrive at the sales of your industry and its growth rate?
  9. How do you plan to scale in the next 12 months?
  10. What’s your K Factor? (virality)
  11. How are you going to close sales?

Questions About Competition:

  1. What if one of the bigger players, read Google, FB, etc., launched a product/service just like yours, what would you do?
  2. Who will the company’s competitors likely be?
  3. What will your advantages be over them?
  4. What are your most defensible advantages today?
  5. What will contribute to increased defensibility in the next 6 months?  18 months?
  6. Who could be your best partners and complementors in the market?  Why might they have an incentive to help us hurt our competitors?
  7. What other companies or organizations benefit most if you are successful?
  8. What are your weakest competitive barriers?
  9. What gives you a unique competitive advantage?
  10. What advantages do your competitors have over you?
  11. Compared to your competition, how do you compete with respect to price, features, and performance?

Questions About the Team:

  1. Who are the founders and key team members?
  2. How long have the team members known each other?
  3. Have team members worked together before?
  4. Do you have a solid Founders’ Agreement in place?
  5. What relevant domain experience does the team have?
  6. What key additions to the team are needed in the short term?
  7. Why is the team uniquely capable to execute the company’s business plan?
  8. How many employees do you have?
  9. What motivates the founders?
  10. How do you plan to scale the team in the next 12 months?
  11. Can you scale up volume without proportional scaling up headcount?

Questions About This Funding Round:

  1. Do you have a lead investor?

  2. How much of the Round have you secured?

  3. Why are you raising money? Why not just bootstrap?

  4. What will you achieve with the money? (Not how will you spend it!!)

  5. What’s your Round Objective? (similar question to the last one)

  6. When will you close your round?

  7. How far will the round get you?  

  8. How much runway (months) will you buy?

  9. When do you think you will need to raise more capital?

  10. How much of your future growth can be funded through profitable revenues in the next 18 months rather than raising additional equity?

  11. If you were to raise enough to get to cash flow breakeven, how much would you need?

  12. How do you know how much money you need and could you scale your business with less?

  13. Why don’t you do this yourself without an investment?

  14. Who else is interested?

  15. Who else have you shown this to?

Questions About Next Funding Round:

  1. What are the top three metrics/goals required for you to get to the next round of capital raise?
  2. What key positions do you need to fill as you scale the business and to get to the next round of capital raise?
  3. What would your scaled unit economics look like?

Questions About Financials:

  1. What are the company’s 3 year projections?
  2. What are the key assumptions underlying the projections?
  3. How much equity and debt has the company raised?
  4. What’s the Cap Table Structure?
  5. What future equity or debt financing will be necessary?
  6. How much of a stock option pool is being set aside for employees?
  7. How much burn will occur until the company gets to profitability?
  8. What are the key metrics that the management team focuses on?
  9. Do you realize you’re vastly underestimating your marketing expenses (or sales expense, or margins through channels, or headcount required for direct selling)?
  10. Do you know comparable numbers for similar businesses?
  11. What does the economics at a unit level look like now and at steady state?
  12. What are the “rules of thumb” for margins (gross, unit contribution, EBIDTA) for this sector?
  13. What are the key assumptions underlying your medium-term and steady state projections?

Questions About Product/Market Fit:

  1. What is the one thing above all else you must do to succeed?
  2. Can you deliver only the value-add?
  3. Who is the one competitor to position against in the market?
  4. How will we you get leveraged distribution?

Questions About Risk:

  1. What do you see as the principal risks to the business?
  2. What legal risks do you have?
  3. Do you have any regulatory risks?
  4. Are there any product liability risks?
  5. How do you plan to mitigate these risks?

Questions About Intellectual Property (IP):

  1. What key intellectual property does the company have (patents, patents pending, copyrights, trade secrets, trademarks, domain names)?
  2. What comfort do you have that the company’s intellectual property does not violate the rights of a third party?
  3. How was the company’s intellectual property developed?
  4. Would any prior employers of a team member have a potential claim to the company’s intellectual property?

Tricky Questions (and some answers):

  1. How did you come up with this idea?

  2. If this (the venture being pitched) was to fail, what would you do next? (They actually want you to answer that that’s not an option cause you’re not thinking about failure!)

  3. What does success look like to you?

  4. For women: Do you have a family / want to start a family – how will you focus on this? (Yes I know that question sucks big time and is borderline illegal. But questions like this do come up, have a nice as possible reply ready.)

  5. What are the top hypotheses the team wants to test in the next few months?

  6. What keeps you up at night?

  7. What is the company’s desired pre-money valuation? (This is tricky because you probably shouldn’t answer this right away – too high, you overshoot, too low, you undervalue…)

  8. What is your Exit Strategy? (This is not something you should put on a slide or answer! Your answer should be to the effect of “We are fully focused on building a strong, lasting company. That’s our core mission and passion.” – They really want to hear that you’re not looking for a quick sell!)

  9. Who believes in you and how can I get in touch with them?

  10. What entrepreneurs do you admire and why?

  11. What mistakes have you made thus far in this business and what have you learned? (Failure and mistakes are an integral part of being a Founder! How you dealt with it is what they really want to know about!)

  12. What if 3-5 down the road we think you’re not the right person to continue running this company and we want to bring in an outside CEO —how will you deal with that? (The Founder/CEO is not always the best suited person for the job. They want to know that you have the best interests of the company at heart and you won’t put ego first!)

  13. Have you ever been fired from a job? Tell us about it. (What they really want to know here is how you challenged things, moved and shaked – didn’t stay put. How you dealt with challenges in a workplace says a lot about you

Did I miss any good ones? Need help answering them well? Talk to me!

Clients Say

  • I worked with Donna last year. She is, simply put, one of the best at corporate storytelling out there. I recommend her regularly to those looking to raise capital, especially when they have a more challenging story to tell. If you want to take your corporate storytelling to the next level, don't hesitate. Work with her. You won't regret it.

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    Leo TrottierLeo TrottierFounder at CleverPet
  • Donna is absolutely fantastic! We have been working with Donna within week programs in Silicon Valley for Executive MBA of Moscow school of management SKOLKOVO. She is great in transforming 180 degrees your skills and approach to pitching. The students leave the workshop with pure brilliant feeling what and how they should do. Donna is unique, energetic, engaging and super professional. She knows exactly what you need to succeed. And I strongly recommend her workshops for big and small businesses, corporate people, start-uppers and serial entrepreneurs.

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  • Donna is the pitching Jedi, Yoda of messaging and story telling! She helped turn our deck into an incredible story with a touch of “wow”. She has the rare combination of messaging expertise combined with fund raising experience. She is easy to work with and get things done. We highly recommend her.

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    Joe CastonJoe CastonRainmaker - Revenue and Growth Acceleration. Fractional CRO / VP of Sales, and CMO. Founder at PlayMakersX
  • Donna is an absolute pleasure to work with.
    Her knowledge of pitch decks and storytelling combines for an utmost distillation in information for investors.
    The outline of what she presents is second to none and just from a simple phone call with Donna and some follow up we were able to refine our deck to a point that many investors and other entrepreneurs immediately offered to pass our deck along to their contacts.As someone who raised capital before and has constructed a few pitch decks, I can attest to the fact that she brings a different perspective, edge, & insight to the table that the entrepreneur generally doesn't see.

    I HIGHLY recommend Donna's methodology for pitch/sales decks and believe that whether first-time or experienced entrepreneurs, her services will prove to be invaluable!

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    Jared SanbornJared SanbornFounder & CEO
  • My startup was struggling to capture investors. I decided to contact Donna. After a few hours work on my deck the startup presentation became clearer, the selling arguments were evident, the problem/solution was well enhanced. Result: we have now a VC investing in Adshir.com
    Thanks Donna, great job!
    Olivier

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  • For Donna, finding the story in a pitch is like a logic puzzle. The approach is brilliant. She listens to you tell your story, then guides you through the logical connections. Finally she helps you knit them into a natural story. You retain the authenticity, yet your story delivers your message with a wallop. She shows you the concrete metaphors and guides you around the slippery slopes. At the end of the journey, you've found a story that's your own yet tells the tale you want to tell. She's a remarkable professional. That she's a delightful human being just makes it all magical. I can't recommend her more highly as a corporate storyteller.

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  • I had the pleasure of working with Donna a couple of months ago, and I was blown away by her art, dedication, and her ability to communicate. She took the words I had on paper and created a story in my voice. She knew exactly what I was trying to say. She is a great listener and the stories she creates from talking with you really resonate with the audience. She is the first person I will call when I need to build my story. Thank you, Donna, my success would have not been possible without you

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  • Its been a great pleasure working with Donna. Her insight, experience, and advice were instrumental in shaping Flyzen's deck and pitch. Donna shared her perspective on our processes which was eye-opening.
    I highly recommend her to anyone who is looking to improve and shape his/her storytelling abilities, anyone who wants to work on his/her messages, either one-on-one, for a conference or for an investor presentation.

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  • Donna is an expert, guru, professional — all of the above — when it comes to learning the methodology and science behind pitching your business. We've had many high-profile experts host a pitching workshop in our Seed Fund Program (where learning how to perfect your pitch is 99% of the program), and she's been the best by far. Five stars and two thumbs up for you, Donna!  All the best, Keenan

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  • Donna is a Wizard, a magician that can turn any idea into a story, into something that resonates, inspires with a touch of "wow" in the few right places that will catch attention. She brings processes into the way any company needs to build and articulate a message. All done in a fun, creative environment. But there is more... While building the messages, Donna adds so much value in the words she is using, in the questions she is asking that not only she can help build a presentation for any audience, but the outcome and discussion brings so much more, so many new ideas and angles to think about. Very glad I worked with Donna and cannot recommend her enough.

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  • Donna was a big help in defining our sales pitch. She is very professional and she is able to write everything in simple words and she did it in the time she promises. Thank you Donna!

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    Gonzalo AgueroGonzalo AgueroWorcket Founder
  • Donna helped me hone my story when I went on TV for Planet of the Apps. She truly transformed the way I thought about my business and explained it to others. I can't recommend her enough

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  • Donna helps crystalize the important messages and get them out succinctly for exec presentations. Exactly what many of us need! And she is so fast and efficient!

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  • Magic Donna. The only one we can trust to perfectly express our vision and ideas in words that anyone can understand.
    Thanks for the great work!

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  • We are a young startup in the IoT and Big Data arena. We worked with Donna as part of building our strategy, storytelling etc. Donna has a very unique ability to sharpen the message, crystalize the exact value proposition and build the right pitch for the company. Donna is super efficient, smart and well experienced.
    Don't miss this opportunity !!!

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  • Even though Donna doesn't have a background in our field, she "got" our messages very fast. She knew how to refine them into clear, powerful texts that improved our presentation immeasurably! This was all done in a very pleasant and efficient way. I would work with her again in a heartbeat.

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    Ran HirschRan HirschCo-Founder of A1C Foods
  • Donna is a magician! In just two hours she was able to convert our deck from a presentation full of facts to an engaging story! We even used it at a pitch competition which we won! She also helped us with our website and a few other projects, I recommend her to all CEOs who want to save themselves tons of time, money and disappointments, and want to learn how to pitch their startup better. Thank you Donna!

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  • I had the pleasure working with Donna for the past several years. She helped my company to create and polish our technological branding and messaging. Our products target big clients in the enterprise cloud solutions space and rely on complex and sophisticated technologies. Donna was able to simplify our technological message and bring it from concept and into writing. Donna was very professional throughout the entire process and I highly recommend working with her.

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  • Donna had helped to shape the investor deck for one of the startups I'm working with. She added great value by transforming the deck from a collection of facts to a coherent storyline. Following a single focused work session with Donna, the deck was presented to the investors of the company. The deck fully achieved its goals and helped to secure the needed budget.

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  • Dear Donna Griffit
    Thank you for helping improve and upgrade my presentation to a level people both engage and become clients at the end of the presentation (instead of, I need to think about it and the such). What a great difference a one-time meeting with you made. You are a true professional! You know what people are looking for, and you knew how to incorporate it in a subject which is not typical or easy to sell. From the first slide, all the way to the last, you provided alterations, options, ideas and tools that were backed by your vast experience and knowledge. During an hour meeting you were able to teach me, seemingly, easy tools to get clients – all which worked like magic. Moreover, you introduced me to the very talented graphic designer Roni Yahel, who gathered your ideas and tips, and was able to bring forth my message in a most accurate and professional manner. And she got it in the first take. Again, the topic I deal with, was not an easy one to convey … until I met you.
    Anyone who is looking for a talented, professional and creative corporate story teller, would be lucky to be your client. .
    You managed . Kudos!!

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    Maya BarakMaya BarakCertified Professional Biometric Hand Analysis | Author