TechCrunch+ roundup: 7 VCs making pitches, AI best practices, zero-based budgeting


Image Credits: Jason Doiy/Getty Images

It’s too early to tell whether SVB’s downfall heralds a new era for venture capital, but based on anecdotal evidence, off-the-record discussions and chats with colleagues, it looks like we’re back to business as usual as far as raising funds for revenue launch is concerned.

It’s not a scientific sample, but I noticed several investors signaling this week on Twitter that they remain interested in talking to founders who are still at the idea stage.

I avoid sharing hot examples, but here’s one: with contagion contained, the VC community feels good about writing small checks to pre-revenue startups, but Series A and up? More or less.

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Before Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, I asked seven VCs about the startups they want to back right now, how they prefer to be approached, and if they could share any advice for first-time founders.

As long as this decline continues, this Investor Q&A will be a monthly TC+ column. If you’re a recently laid-off worker considering going out on your own, an H-1B worker who’s had it this far, or just looking for tips and advice that can help you connect with early-stage investors, please read on too share .

If you are an investor who would like to be featured in future columns, please email with “How To Feature Me” in the subject line.

Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to answer these questions in such detail. There’s a lot of tactical advice here, and a lot more to come.

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Here’s who participated:

  • Brian Brackeen, General Partner, Lightship Capital
  • Masha Butcher, Founder and General Partner, Day One Ventures
  • Rebecca Liu-Doyle, Managing Director, Insight Partners
  • Clelia Warburg Peters, Managing Partner, Era Ventures
  • Nick Adams, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Differential Ventures
  • Lisa Lambert, Founder and President, National Grid Partners
  • Elizabeth Inn, Co-Founder and General Partner, Hustle Fund

Have a nice weekend,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+

Best Practices for Changing Times: How Founders Should Use AI and ML in 2023

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We don’t publish many articles promoting basic best practices. Suggestions like “listen to your customers” and “make data-driven decisions” are so general that they are difficult to implement.

But now that AI-driven solutions offer search results, create poems and generate illustrations on demand, startups need a plan to create personalized user experiences, according to Ab Gaur, founder and CEO of Verticurl.

“While excessive or useless customer data can clog content pipelines, the right information can power hyper-personalization at scale,” he wrote.

Zero-based budgeting: A proven framework for expanding runway

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It’s critical to make every dollar count in this environment, but pulling back too much in the wrong places can sap momentum throughout your organization.

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Instead of just cutting a little off the top, more startups are turning to zero-based budgeting, an aggressive tactic where founders go back to the starting line for each budget period “to make sure all line items are appropriate and cost-effective,” it says FP&A analyst Healy Jones.

“The best founders are looking for a framework to strategically reduce burnout while keeping their startup’s value drivers operating.”

5 strategies for biotech startups to weather a market downturn

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Starting a biotech company is a massive undertaking. Compared to a SaaS startup, the investment required to build a team, acquire research funding, and ensure regulatory compliance can be staggering.

Dr. James Coates, a “venture capitalist specializing in early-stage life science companies,” says biotech founders need to look beyond their investor networks to find extra cash these days.

In his latest TC+ post, he shares five action items “that can help your biotech startup navigate a chilly fundraising environment.”

Pitch Deck Teardown: StudentFinance’s $41M Series A Deck

Image Credits: StudentFinance

Last month, we reported that European fintech startup StudentFinance received a $41 million Series A to expand its service that offers education financing through Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs).

This week, Haje Jan Kamps reviewed the company’s Series A deck, minus the edits for “sensitive revenue, expense and unit economics slides:”

  • Cover up
  • Mission
  • An opportunity
  • issue
  • Answer
  • Value proposition part 1
  • Value Proposition, Part 2
  • Business model
  • technology
  • Metric
  • Roadmap (labeled “expansion”)
  • Geographical Expansion (referred to as “Expansion”)
  • History and trajectory of growth (referred to as “expansion”)
  • A team
  • Contact

Dear Sophie: How can I return to the United States as a founder?

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

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I lived and worked in the United States on L-1B for a year, then switched to H-1B for 2.5 years before returning to India (where I am a citizen) and founding a startup.

Now I want to go back to the US to raise funds for my startup. What are my options to return to the US as a founder?

— Fast growing founder

‘Trust is hard won’: SVB closure may disproportionately affect black founders

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

The federal takeover of Silicon Valley Bank means former customers can access their funds, but some black tech founders are concerned that its closure makes their climb even steeper.

Because SVB’s startup-focused approach lowered barriers to banking, it was a popular choice for many black founders, reports Dominique-Madori Davies.

“Silicon Valley Bank was certainly willing to push the envelope and see what they could do, including investing in black funds,” said Lightship Capital co-founder Brian Brackeen. “We don’t see that commitment from other banks.”


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