Category: Early Stage 2021

Cleo Capital’s Sarah Kunst explains how to get ready to raise your next round



TechCrunch virtually sat down with venture capitalist and Cleo Capital managing director Sarah Kunst at our latest Early Stage event last week. Kunst joined us to chat about preparing for raising capital in today’s frenetic fundraising environment, digging into the gritty mechanics for the audience.

Cleo Capital invests $500,000 to $1 million into early-stage startups, with portfolio companies that include mmhmm, Cameo and StyleSeat, among others.

Next, a few favorite excerpts from the chat, starting with Kunst’s notes on how to make a killer pitch deck. Questions from the audience helped direct the conversation, so I’ve tried to select themes that came from y’all. We’ll also explore advice regarding incorporation, how to find a co-founder and when startups are too large to join an accelerator. (Quotes lightly edited for clarity.)

Before we get into key points from the conversation, here’s a rundown of links that Kunst discussed that I promised to include in this post:

How to make a great pitch deck

Here’s the thing about decks: Don’t be ugly. Don’t be ugly. Don’t be ugly.

The good news is it is free and easy to make a non-ugly deck. It is not 1999. You do not have to use clip art. You can go to Canva. You can go to plenty of websites that give you very basic, very cheap (Read more...)

How to get into a startup accelerator



Should you try to get your company into an accelerator? How far along should your idea and your team be before applying? When it is time to apply, how do you make your application stand out from hundreds or thousands of others? How fancy do you need to get with the application video?

For answers, we spoke with Neal Sáles-Griffin, managing director of Techstars Chicago, and the founder of one of the earliest coding bootcamps with Code Academy (later known as The Starter League). He is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and was a mayoral candidate in Chicago’s 2019 election. He’s got an incredible wealth of knowledge about all things startups — our chat was only about 40 minutes long, but he absolutely crammed it with insights.

Here are some highlights from our conversation at TC Early Stage — Extra Crunch members will find the full video and a transcript below.


Why (or why not to) join an accelerator

Throughout the talk, Neal shares plenty of reasons why you might want to join an accelerator. The connections! The shared knowledge! The support network! The funding is nice too, of course — but he’s quick to point out that it shouldn’t be your sole motivation.

It can’t just be about the money. If it’s just about fundraising and you don’t really want any of the other parts of the experience, you’re probably setting yourself up to not have a very good time. I would highly recommend reconsidering that and instead (Read more...)

We’re talking startup sales with Zoom CRO Ryan Azus at TechCrunch Early Stage



TechCrunch is excited to announce that Zoom chief revenue officer (CRO) Ryan Azus is joining us at TechCrunch Early Stage on April 1.

Azus has worked at Cisco, RingCentral and most recently Zoom. In his previous roles he held a number of sales titles, including his final role at RingCentral where he was its executive vice president of global sales and services.

Zoom needs little introduction, having crossed over from enterprise software success story to consumer phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time companies, groups, individuals and families leaned on the video chat provider to stay in touch.

Azus has been at the helm of Zoom’s money engine since mid-2019, which means that he has sat atop it during one of the most impressive periods of sales growth at any software company — ever.

So we’re glad that he’ll be at TC Early Stage this year, where we’ll pepper him with questions. Bring your own, of course, as we’ll be reserving around half our time for audience Q&A.

But the TechCrunch crew has a plethora of things we want to chat about too, including the importance of bottom-up sales during the pandemic, especially in contrast to the more traditional sales bullpen model that many startups have historically used; how to balance self-service sales and human-powered sales at a tech company that presents both options to customers, and their relative strength in 2021; changes to (Read more...)