Early Stage Fundraising with Boris Wertz

February 25th, 2016   |    By: The Startups Team    |    Tags: Funding

Boris Wertz is the founder of VersionOne Ventures, an early-stage fund that has made over 35 investments in consumer Internet, SaaS, and mobile companies across North America. Clarity sat down with Boris to discuss how to find funding sources, how (and how much) to ask, and crafting the perfect pitch.

In order to raise money, most startups go through the same process: create a pitch deck, and then pitch it to investors.There are many types of investors, such as institutional investors who invest other people’s money, angel investors who invest their own money, and venture capitalists who privately or publicly provide total capital for a new venture.

Where can you find funding?
First, you should think about what the right funding is. Everyone looks to venture capitalists, but in reality, less than 1% of startups are funded by VC firms. Look to crowdfunding, angel investors, family, and friends. You’ll most likely be more successful getting funding outside of a VC firm.

How should startups think about money?
Not every company will get to be a global billion dollar business; most companies will be in niche markets catering to a subset of individuals. If you’re in a niche market, you may want to set more attainable goals, such as, “In 7 years, I want a $100 million revenue company.”

What does traction have to do with your investment estimate?
How you scale the company ultimately depends on the traction. Two big ways to scale your company: 1. Viral Effect / Network Effect and 2. Advertising/ Sales Force. These tools can quantify the amount of people and engagement your product/service in receiving. If you see incredible engagement and word of mouth in the early stages, it’s only going to get larger.

The Cost of Lifetime Value

How much would it cost to a acquire a new customer? The cost depends on the research and marketing efforts to reach a certain audience. Consider your acquisition costs versus the lifetime value of a new customer. Build something that a few people are very passionate about rather than something many people are a little bit passionate about. Loyal customers will give you feedback and expand the enthusiasm. One example of a paid product customer acquisition company, as highlighted by Boris Wertz is www.goclio.com.


While some investors invest in the talent of the team, most invest in the product. A product that’s already in the hands of the users. Investors don’t want to invest in your idea, they want to invest in your business. The best way to get funding is by having a product people already want and need.

So how much should you ask for? Here are Boris’ rules of thumb:

1. You should have runway for at least 18 months before you have to go back to the market.
2. Every funding round should be between 15-20% dilution—any higher and you’re raising too much money; any lower and it won’t be enough money.
3. How much money you need to reach the next milestone.

As we wrapped up, we asked Boris what the most important keys are to a successful investment meeting. His first piece of advice: “A great pitch is a simple one. A concise, logical story that gets me excited.” Secondly, “Touch on the problem you’re solving, and be precise. Why are you passionate about it? If you can touch on that in 6-8 slides, that’s beautiful.” Lastly, we had to ask: What is the best way for an entrepreneur to reach out to Boris with their ideas? A trusted introduction can go a long way, putting you a few steps ahead of the other founders vying for his time.

Want to hear Boris Wertz’s advice firsthand? Clarity members can watch the webinar here!

About the Author

The Startups Team

Startups is the world's largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies find customers, funding, mentors, and world-class education.

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