Henrik Weather Sanchez

TL; DR: Some VCs don’t care about cold inbound. we do. Not only should this be an integral part of the ecosystem’s access and inclusion efforts, but it should also strengthen the deal flow. Win win.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

How many VC firms talk about access and inclusion but are actually unreachable?

How can you hear your voice when you’re a founder with an underrepresented background who doesn’t have access to many privileged networks?

It is easy for funds to claim that the best founders naturally filter up, or to say that they don’t have time for cold inbound and instead need to focus on nurturing warm launches from their network. At Playfair we have made a conscious effort to resist these temptations as this often overlooked source of deals has tremendous value.

The reality is that many VCs remain hidden and inaccessible to those who don’t have a direct connection. This is inconsistent with the widespread desire of venture capital to improve its diversity through access and inclusion.

Our solution: an open pitch form with immediate answers.

  1. Give every founder a chance.
  2. Bring every founder on a level playing field.
  3. Save start-up time.
  4. Expand and deepen Playfair’s deal flow source.

We encourage other VCs to follow suit and increase the tide across the ecosystem, as we did with our Female Founder Office Hours initiative.

When we launched Playfair Capital’s second fund in 2019, we made a greater commitment to playing fair by founders with a new pitch form on our website that is accessible to everyone.

Since then we have checked over 2,000 cold incoming parking spaces from founders, taken more than 150 initial calls and more than 20 follow-up meetings. Five of them made it to IC and we invested in three.

The first page of our pitch form, which is accessible to everyone, on our website

We wrote a step-by-step guide for founders on how best to navigate the form and its questions. This is a useful guide for founders on how to nail down your pitch, avoid common pitfalls, and increase your chances of reaching a follow-up meeting with a member of our team.

By centralizing and standardizing all incoming colds through our online pitch form – LinkedIn, Google, events, online directories, etc. – we make it work for founders and for us. Your time is precious. That is why we make sure that every founder receives an answer within a week (up to two weeks during the holiday periods).

VCs like to tell founders how to find the product market, but do we practice what we preach?

This is important feedback we received about Landscape VC – the glass door for VCs:

We listened: we updated our pitch shape and internal processes with the following results. This is one of many examples where we have continuously developed both the submission itself and our internal processes to take into account the feedback from the founders.

In front:

  1. 18 questions (12 required)
  2. 1h50m average time to completion
  3. 2 week average response time

Now:

  1. 13 questions (9 required)
  2. 16m average time to completion
  3. 6 days average response time

We don’t promise a meeting or personal feedback to every founder, but yes or no, we’ll give you an answer quickly so you can focus on the right investors and build your business.

We believe in the importance of transparency. Here’s what the process looks like when you submit your pitch:

  1. A member of our investment team will review around 30 applications on an ongoing basis each week. This will focus on your deck, website, and your founder’s LinkedIn profiles.
  2. If we do not think your company is a good fit, we will send you an e-mail from time to time. Although we cannot provide personalized reasons for passing this on to each founder due to the incoming volume, we always share links to useful resources to assist you on your fundraising journey.
  3. We meet as a team on Friday mornings to discuss the top 5–10% of applications that match our investment ethos and culture. This includes a discussion of the key strengths and areas of uncertainty uncovered during the pitch review.
  4. We typically run 1–3 companies per week, up to an initial 30 minute call with a member of our investment team.
  5. From here you have called up the standard Playfair process, which our Managing Partner Chris has described in detail here.

If you are a founder: Apply here or share with other founders looking to raise pre-seed or seed funding.

If you are a VC investor: Watch out for your cold (you will miss out on offers if you don’t); Streamline the process (if you make it feasible you will).

Someone: Let me know your thoughts on cold inbound pitch forms, who has the best / worst and how we can keep improving ours (reach out to Seedcamp, RLC Ventures, and Talis Capital for their open pitch forms 🙌)

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