How to Apply
In an effort to facilitate entrepreneurs, we are providing guidance on how to fill application questions in the most effective way, as well as how to structure a sound pitch deck to present your startup.
Below is a list of recommendations from the B4i team:
- Be synthetic and to the point. This is the most relevant advice and should be applied to all the material you’re sending us. Favor short sentences that get to the point, rather than complex wording to impress the reader. In the words of Paul Graham: Probably the biggest thing people don’t understand about the process is the importance of expressing yourself clearly. […] The best answers are the most matter of fact. It’s a mistake to use marketing-speak to make your idea sound more exciting.
- Aim at answering the questions using no more than 1000 characters.
- Don’t play the politician. Answer specifically the question you’re being asked, don’t try to go around it or answer something else instead. It’s much better to be brief - or even say “we don’t know yet”, especially for the Pre-Acceleration - rather than disguising the answer, as it communicates implicitly that you don’t know what to say and you’re trying to make up for it.
- Feel free to respond either in Italian or English.
- Just present one idea. Don’t put us in the position to decide for you which idea is worth pursuing, that is no one’s decision other than the entrepreneur’s.
- Before submitting your application, run a check on your website and social media profile - where applicable - to make sure that they are up to date and active. Your company and personal LinkedIn profiles are by far the most important ones to keep well maintained, being the first place any investor would go to start their due diligence. Crunchbase is another very important platform for the VC community. If any of your company social media profiles doesn’t have a post published in the past 2-3 months, that’s a small red flag. It’s better to temporarily close a profile than transmit a feeling that it’s been forgotten.
How to structure your pitch
- Present in a clear and synthetic way (no more than 20 slides).
- Use big type size (min.18-20) and write as less as you can, use images & charts when possible.
- You don’t need a fancy User Interface (UI), some of the most successful pitch decks in history were able to convey concise messages without a strong brand identity, as you can see in some examples from the links below.
- Explain clearly what the company does in the first few slides.
- Then show why your company is a terrific investment opportunity (milestones reached/growth/market potential).
- Show a vision. Make the listener-investor believe in you.
- Company name & logo.
- Define the company/business in one sentence.
- “Company presentation for B4i Acceleration/Pre-Acceleration Program - Batch # 20XX”
- What is the problem you’re solving?
- How are potential customers solving the problem today?
- Better if you include data backing your claims. Sources for market research include Doxa, Statista, Euromonitor.
- Which is the USP?
- Description of benefits and solutions offered to customers (don’t just focus on features).
- Which are the technological, product and market sustainable advantages?
- Show an image, video or a demo of your product, when possible.
- Revenue trends m/m or y/y
- User trends w/w or m/m
- Current leads/contracts closed with B2B customers
- Patents and brands registered (if any)
- Existing significant strategic customers/partnerships
- Founder 1 name, qualification (+ picture)
- Relevant experiences (no more than 2 lines, or logos of previous employers)
- Founder 2 name, qualification
- Relevant experiences
- Founder 3...
- Advisors (if any)
- Investors/shareholders (if any)
Market & Competition
- Target Market (and its segmentation).
- Market dimension (TAM in €) and growth rate.
- Main competitors, barriers to entry, main market dynamics, important competitive factors (competition chart).
- External and available market research.
Business Model & Go-to-Market Strategy
- How do I make money/acquire customers.
- Go-to-market strategy.
- Strategies about provisions and production (when applicable/relevant).
- As a general rule, the closer your startup is to product/market fit, the further your plan should look into the future - with a limit of maximum 3 years. Feel free to keep your projections at 1-2 years into the future: what we are looking for is not a scientifically precise financial forecast, but a sound reasoning from the entrepreneur who is structuring the plan.
- Make sure to include revenue and EBITDA indicators, as well as a projection of the most relevant metrics for your business.
- If you’re applying for Pre-Acceleration, it is not mandatory to prepare a financial plan. We nevertheless recommend starting to think about it, as it will be a pillar document to support your decisions during the life of your company.
Investment Round & Needs
- Raising how much?
If you’re aiming at just the €30k from B4i, no need to include this point.
- To do what?
(investments planned: Area 1, %/€, Area 2, %/€, Area 3, %/€).
- Current cap table.
- Other investors interested.
Additional sources and benchmarks for your pitch deck
- Lessons From A Study of Perfect Pitch Decks - Techcrunch
- The Early Pitch Decks Of 15 Startups Before They Became Billion-Dollar Companies - CBInsights
- Sequoia Capital Pitch Deck Template
- What should be in my fundraising slides?
Do you still have any doubts? Read our FAQ