TechCrunch+ roundup: 7 VCs who are taking pitches, AI best practices, zero-based budgeting

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It’s too early to tell if SVB’s demise heralds a new era for venture capital, but based on anecdotal evidence, confidential discussions and conversations with colleagues, it appears we’re back to business as usual as far as we’re concerned -revenues- startup fundraising.

Not a scientific sample, but I noticed that several investors have signaled on Twitter this week that they remain interested in speaking to founders who are still in the idea phase.

I’m hesitant to share hot takes, but here’s one: With the contagion contained, the VC community feels good about writing small checks for pre-revenue startups, but Series A and up? Mas o menos.

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Before the collapse of the Silicon Valley bank, I asked seven VCs which startups they currently want to support, how they are preferably approached and whether they have any tips for first-time founders.

As long as this downturn continues, these investor questions and answers will be a monthly TC+ column. If you’re a recently laid-off worker considering starting your own business, an H-1B employee who’s made it this far, or just looking for tips and advice that can help you get started with early-stage investors in to get in touch, please read and share them.

If you are an investor who would like to be included in future columns, email [email protected] with “How to pitch me” in the subject line.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer these questions in such detail. There is a lot of tactical advice here, and much more to come.

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Here are the participants:

  • Brian Backeen, General Partner, Lightship Capital
  • Masha Bucher, Founder and General Partner of Day One Ventures
  • Rebecca Liu-Doyle, Managing Director, Insight Partners
  • Clelia Warburg Peters, Managing Partner, Era Ventures
  • Nick Adams, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Differential Ventures
  • Lisa Lambert, Founder and President of National Grid Partners
  • Elizabeth Yin, co-founder and general partner of Hustle Fund

Have a nice weekend,

Walter Thompson
Editor-in-Chief, TechCrunch+

Best practices for times of change: 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-backed decisions” are so general that they are difficult to implement.

But now that AI-driven solutions are offering search results, producing poetry, and generating illustrations on demand, startups need a plan to create tailored user experiences, according to Ab Gaur, founder and CEO of Verticurl.

“While excessive or unhelpful customer data can clog content pipelines, the right information can drive hyper-personalization at scale,” he writes.

Zero-Based Budgeting: A Proven Framework for Runway Extension

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It’s important to make every dollar count in this environment, but pulling back too hard in the wrong places can hurt momentum across your entire organization.

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Rather than simply trimming a little at the top, more startups are turning to zero-based budgeting, an aggressive tactic in which founders return to zero for each budget period “to verify that all line items are relevant and cost-effective.” writes FP&A analyst Healy Jones.

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

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 investments required to build a team, secure research funding, and ensure regulatory compliance can be staggering.

dr James Coates, “a venture capitalist specializing in early-stage life sciences companies,” says biotech founders today need to look beyond their investor networks to find additional cash.

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

Pitch Deck Teardown: StudentFinance’s $41 million Series A deck

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

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

  • cover
  • mission
  • Opportunity
  • problem
  • Solution
  • Value proposition part 1
  • Value proposition part 2
  • business model
  • technology
  • metrics
  • Timetable (labeled “Extension”)
  • Geographic expansion (referred to as “Expansion”)
  • Growth history and history (referred to as “expansion”)
  • team
  • Contact

Dear Sophie, how can I return to the United States as a Founder?

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Dear Sophie,

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I lived and worked in the United States on an L-1B for a year and then transitioned to an H-1B for 2.5 years before moving back to India (where I’m a citizen) and starting a startup.

Now I want to return to the US to raise money for my startup. What options do I have to return to the USA as a founder?

— Fast-moving founder

‘Trust is hard to earn’: SVB closure could disproportionately hit black founders

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The government takeover of Silicon Valley Bank means former customers can access their funds, but some black tech founders are worried its closure will only steep their rise.

Because SVB’s startup-centric approach lowered barriers to banking services, it was a popular choice for many black founders, reports Dominic-Madori Davis.

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

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