T-5 Weeks: To Startups, From Investors

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In just 5 weeks time, Dublin will be a hive of activity as startups showcase their work at Web Summit. Investors from around the world will be in attendance and they’re looking for something special, so you better be ready to impress.

We asked a few of these investors, namely Khailee Ng, Simon Squibb, Wesley Chan and Chip Hazard, to let us know their tips for the pitch, approaching investors and following up. Startups, read on, you’ll want to hear what they have to say:

Khailee Ng – Managing Partner – 500 Startups

Khailee Ng

  • To impress investors at the pitch, lead with traction. For example, you have 10,000 users in 1 week or $1M ARR in 6 months. People may not even know what your startup does but at least they know it’s not ‘just an idea’ and they know it’s something that people are paying for.
  • You always want to put your best foot forward at the pitch. Is it the background of your team? The kind of customers you have in the pipeline? Put your best foot forward early, rather than later.
  • Remove anything which isn’t impressive or weakens your pitch. Adding additional information that doesn’t build your case just dilutes the impact of your pitch. Be ruthless in what you cut out. Make your pitch 30 seconds to 50 seconds shorter than it should be because when you’re up there you’ll need the extra time anyway.
  • You can you can drum up interest in an indirect way by being a person you want to be around with. Grab the tired looking investor some water, cold beer or a slice of pizza. Volunteer to take them out later to one of the cool afterparties. And build friendships that you will ring up for cash later.

Wesley Chan – Felicis Ventures – Managing Director


  • The pitches that have stood out over the 3000 or so I’ve heard are when the founder can articulate clearly what success looks like and how they plan to get there. Those are the ones we are more likely to fund. If there’s one thing to impress an investor, it’s saying that success looks like X, and here’s the path I plan to take to get there. If there are any hiccups along the way, I will do this to A, B, and C to improve my chances of getting there. And I’d like you along for the ride to make this happen.

Simon Squibb – Nest Investments – Founder & CEO


  • Research who will be at the event. Don’t just turn up and hope to meet the folks of interest to you. Try and plan it a little.
  • Remember, investors need startup founders to invest in. In other words, we need you as much as you need us. Be cool. Approach the relationship in that way. We end up team mates more than investor/founder titles so try to build a friendship first.
  • This type of event is an opportunity to make friends with the investment community for the long term. Don’t open with ‘I need this amount of money’ but instead make a real connection.

Chip Hazard – Flybridge Capital Partners – General Partner


  • Remember the purpose of a pitch at a conference is not to communicate everything about you and your company, but rather to make a connection and determine if there is a mutual fit and interest in followup.
  • Distill your company’s story down to a short sentence that captures the essence of what you are doing and why it is important. A great exercise on this front is to fit your pitch into a single tweet.
  • Give your own personal background and why you are uniquely suited to take on this opportunity. Have your personal passion for your company come through.
  • With investors where there is a mutual fit, ask if there is interest in learning more either later at the conference, or follow up with an email or LinkedIn connection referencing the meeting and, ideally, something you heard or learned in the conversation

Take on the advice from the investors and you’re bound to have a successful Web Summit experience. Good luck!

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