How to pitch as a scientific founder

The founders of POCKiT are developing a faster way of diagnosing strokes. They are three Cambridge scientists, whip smart, and they are working on a blood that one day might help clinicians save your life. Creator Fund were the first team to advise them, and a year later they are closing their seed round. But pitching has presented a challenge facing many scientific founders. How do you get investors excited about a technical startup they might not understand?

CEO Gonzalo Ladreda shares 5 learnings on raising money for technical founders:

1. You cannot hold out for medical VCs

The reality at the seed round is that there are just not that many specialist medical funds. Those funds tend to be writing much bigger cheques. And so, to get early capital, you are going to have to be able to communicate your field to investors who are coming to it completely blind.

2. Pitch at the level of the least knowledgeable person in the room

Often investors will bring a medical expert into the meeting, so you might be tempted to focus on them. Avoid this temptation, especially during your pitch. Don’t forget that the investor is the key decision at the table, and you need to engage them. Then when the medical expert asks tough questions in the Q&A, you can show that you also withstand technical interrogation.

3. Find a simple tag line that explains the benefits

“If you save time, you save a life”. This was the line in our deck where people’s eyes lit up. So we moved it to the front. It encapsulated in a memorable way the functional benefits of fast stroke diagnosis. This had been getting lost in the overly technical explanations of categories of stroke.

4. Explain clinical trials in startup terms

Scientific founders can forget that the language of clinical trials is foreign to people not involved with them. But all investors understand “MVPs” and “prototype”, “market ready”, and so you need to translate where your product is in the clinical trial process into the startup language.

5. Use more imagery, and less words

Final piece of advice to every scientific founder. We had far too many clever diagrams and words on our slides, as if we were writing an entry in a medical journal. Be ruthless in simplifying your deck and making it a story that investors want to follow.