4 RED FLAGS FOR VCS WHEN REVIEWING PITCHES FROM DEEP TECH STARTUPS

Updated: Apr 12

Author: Phil Morle, Start up Daily

April 7 2022


In this essay, we are imagining a pitch from an early stage deep tech company, probably still working inside a university.



An investor red flag might not be obvious to a founder. Why would it? They build up over years as signals of weakness and they are best avoided. Knowing what they are makes it possible to avoid them.


This is not about how to build a strong pitch. More about avoiding an accidental weak pitch.


#1: After an hour, we don’t understand what you are building

It is too common that we leave a pitch without really understanding what a company is building. This is usually caused by mis-targeted language or by a poorly balanced structure to the story. Red flags include:

  • Scientific words without an explanation for what they mean. Imagine you are explaining the concept to a school classroom and you will probably avoid this. I have never felt patronised in a pitch so don’t worry about that.

  • 45 minutes of ‘Problem Slides’. It is always good to have the problem hypothesis somewhere near the front but it can be done quickly.

  • It feels too theoretical. Show a demo. It is always the best way to bring something to life.