The Art of the VC Teaser

Shawn Carolan
Mar 22, 2016 · 3 min read

The goal of a VC teaser is simple, to get a meeting. Businesses are complex and it’s impossible to describe the details of yours in the 60 seconds your prospective investor has to scan your email. Don’t try. Help them figure out “is this worth a meeting?”. It’s their job to invest the capital they’ve been entrusted with but they don’t have enough time to meet every prospect. Will you be one?

Questions they have:

  • What do you want? Are you desiring something I can provide for you (participate in an angel round, advice, lead a larger investment round, etc). Be clear and direct, and don’t ask for coffee if you really want an investment. Time is short for everyone and clarity helps both sides.
  • Is this a market I know? It takes time to develop expertise so most investors will have just a few. If you fall in one of their focus areas, state it clearly, ideally with an example company they are involved with.
  • Is the problem big? Customers served * value per customer = value your business creates. State the problem simply and explain how many people will want this and how valuable it will be for them.
  • Is the solution compelling? Given the best alternative out there to solve that problem, why will this product be an easy choice for new customers to go with. Customers usually prefer to stick with something that’s more established.
  • Will it grow quickly? Great product needs a way to find more customers and a social media share button is not enough. Do they charge enough to be able to spend money on marketing and sales or is there a natively viral growth engine?
  • Can this team pull it off? What about this particular entrepreneur and the team they’ve assembled makes them uniquely capable of executing on the promise here.
  • Is there proof? Actual evidence of it delivering value and growing is ideal, but in the absence of that compelling quotes from people who should be expert helps.

Example :

Subject: Handle and the future of knowledge workflow — Series B Oppt.

  • Handle is a command center that helps knowledge workers cut through their information overload and focus on what matters. We replace the cobbled-together hacks — email stars, mark unread, snooze, sticky notes, emailing yourself, fake calendar appointments, and paper lists — with a simple tool that brings action items across your current tools: email, calendar, Slack, Evernote and more into a unified execution experience built on decades of productivity best practices.
  • See how it works (email-centric video): Product teaser video
  • Results are real, with an average productivity increase of 19.8% reported by customers. We have the potential to define a new “must have” category of enterprise software for attention management. See outpouring of love on our Twitter feed.
  • We launched a paywall last Friday and have 10 customers and counting, five of the seats at a $99/month price point. We have ~60k monthly (with 75% growth in October) and 8k daily users (growing 200% in past 6 weeks) using it as a critical part of their workflow and will be up selling the base shortly.
  • We’re seeking a $4m outside lead for a $6m round with supportive insiders and are optimizing for fit and speed over valuation with decision point before end of year. We have a small team that is cranking and this round is intended to get us to profitability.

thought pieces at the intersection of consumer tech investing and entrepreneurship.

Shawn Carolan

Written by

VC, founder & believer that consumer tech can improve everyday lives. Investor in Chime, Roku, Uber, IMVU, Siri, JUMP Bikes + +.


thought pieces at the intersection of consumer tech investing and entrepreneurship.