Without a clear request, your presentation is worthless.

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you brushed it off your Keynote skills, you’re dizzy that you can finally start paying yourself a living wage, and you’re excited to start pitching your startup’s next round of funding to investors. These are, of course, heady times, but step on the other pedal, friend, you might forget something.

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After working with hundreds of founders to raise money, including the fantastically popular Pitch Deck Teardown Series here on TechCrunch+ there is one slide that almost every founder gets wrong. The slide is often called Ask. Or, as an investor friend of mine put it, “what can my $10 million buy”? slide.


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The Ask question is a sensitive topic for many inexperienced entrepreneurs, which makes sense. Trying to get the right size for a funding round can be a little tricky, and there are a thousand different ways to build a startup. If you managed to raise 8 million dollars, you can do this. If you’ve raised $12 million, you could probably launch more of your product features a little faster, or experiment more, or enter an additional market sooner. Do you know that. Your senior staff knows this. Your investors know this. But in any case, you need a plan A.

What should these key indicators look like in order to attract not this round of funding, but the next one?

What should be done?

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Many founders will tell you that they are trying to raise enough money to survive over the next 18 months. It probably is, but it will be so no matter how much money you raise. The best approach is to think about what you need to do to improve next round of funding and then work backwards from there. It’s probably a combination of metrics and milestones.

Metrics are measurable parts of your business that grow and evolve over time. One of the best indicators is revenue, but there can be many others: number of sales, average order value (AOV), monthly or annual recurring income (MRR or ARR respectively), customer acquisition cost (CAC), number of customers. lifetime value (LTV), daily and monthly active users (DAU and MAU), retention rate (usually expressed by its reciprocal churn rate), and more. What should these key indicators look like in order to attract not this round of funding, but the next one?

Milestones are also measurable parts of a business, but instead of being tracked over time, they tend to be binary: you either hit a milestone or you don’t. For startups, these could be key hires; Finding the perfect, experienced CFO to help take your company public is a milestone that many companies must reach at some point. Product launch (leaving beta), specific market launch (California-only launch), and localization (such as launching your app in Spanish and French) are also important milestones. Financial milestones are also common; the first time you make even one dollar from any client, that’s a huge business shift. Another thing is when a client, on average, begins to bring you more money than it costs you to attract him. For companies in the earlier stages, completing the customer screening phase by talking to, say, 100 potential customers is a major milestone.

When you raise money, you will outline a series of milestones that you need to pass in order to establish your company. In addition, you’ll set a few trigger points for metrics—reaching an ARR of $1M, having 5,000 daily active users, or looking for a combination of customer acquisition channels, which means you can acquire customers with a reasonable mixed CAC, for example.

So let’s take a look at how to put together a great “ask” slide by figuring out what it takes to figure out how much you need to raise, how to create a specific set of goals, and how to put it all together.


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