Crafting an Irresistible Investment Memo for Startup Investors

Published on
October 4, 2023
Written by
Ekky Pramana

In the realm of fundraising preparations, a pitch deck is an essential tool, but it merely scratches the surface of your startup's story without your live presence.

Hence, in addition to a pitch deck, the creation of an investment memorandum for potential investors is a crucial step.

This article will guide you through the key elements of an investment memo, highlight its distinctions from a startup pitch deck, and provide insights on how to craft a compelling memo that resonates with investors. Furthermore, we'll offer templates and examples from successful startups that successfully secured investments through investment memos.

Understanding the Investment Memorandum

An investment memorandum serves as a written tool to convey your startup's fundraising narrative comprehensively. It plays an indispensable role when seeking Series A funding.

Traditionally, venture capital firms employ investment committee memos to facilitate investment decisions following a thorough due diligence process. However, for startup founders seeking investors, crafting your own investment memo is a savvy strategy. It not only aids investors in comprehending your venture but also allows you to steer the narrative about your company.

Why does your business need an investment memo?

For those with proficient writing skills, integrating investment memos into your toolkit can help foster robust relationships with potential investors.

Sharing an investment memo before an initial pitch offers a straightforward yet powerful means to:

  • Expedite the decision-making process regarding meeting requests.
  • Foster confidence among decision-makers in your concept, establishing the tone for subsequent discussions.
    Articulate the reasons why someone should invest in your startup.
  • Align existing and potential investors with your business's messaging and the current state of your fundraising efforts.
  • Offer stakeholders a concise overview to share with external parties.

Furthermore, having a well-structured investment memo can prove invaluable in later stages of the fundraising process. When a VC firm decides to extend a term sheet, they often draft an internal investment memo to persuade other stakeholders of the opportunity. This memo serves as a fact-based evaluation of the investment, and writing it yourself empowers you to shape the perception of your company.

The length of an investment memo

An investment memo typically spans around ten pages, not including appendices. It serves as a medium-length presentation of your company, encapsulating vital information necessary to sway potential partners towards an investment decision.

Investment memo vs. pitch deck

Pitch decks are ideally suited for presentations, but they lack the depth to offer a comprehensive understanding of your startup when read independently. An investment memo, on the other hand, stands alone as a complete document, presenting all pertinent details with utmost clarity.

From the investor's perspective, an investment memorandum chronicles a VC firm's or partner's thought process leading up to an investment decision. It serves a distinct purpose compared to a pitch deck.

Crafting your investment memo

To guide you in creating an impactful investment memo, here are ten essential sections to include:

1. Introduction

Dedicate at least one paragraph to each of the following points:

  • Company Overview: Provide a succinct description of your startup and the problem it aims to solve.
  • The Problem: Explain the significance of the problem, why it remains unsolved, and the limitations of current approaches.
  • Unique Solution Showcase: Elaborate on your innovative solution and why it surpasses existing alternatives.
  • Financial Viability: Demonstrate how addressing the problem generates revenue, accompanied by insights into current and projected growth, including revenue metrics.
  • Scalability and Profit Potential: Delve into the magnitude of the opportunity and the growth potential post-investment.

2. Market Analysis and Opportunities

Set the stage for your product by discussing the specifics of the market you operate in:

  • Define the market precisely, including its size and scope.
  • Highlight your key insights into the market, emphasizing why your approach is unique and why the present moment is optimal for problem-solving.
  • Offer insights into the market's growth prospects over time.

3. Competitor Landscape

Incorporate a section in your investment memo to dissect direct competitors, previous attempts at problem-solving, and their shortcomings. Showcase how your startup bridges these gaps to outperform the competition.

4. Product

Naturally progressing from the competitor section, this segment outlines what sets your product apart from others:

  • Define your current product.
  • Envision how the product will evolve in the future.
  • Explain the feasibility of achieving this vision.
  • Detail the specific problem your product addresses and its target audience.
  • Explore additional problem-solving possibilities through expanded product offerings.

5. Company Traction and Growth Metrics

This section provides insights into your startup's progress to date, often visualized through line graphs demonstrating growth. Authenticity is key; don't be deterred by less-than-remarkable results, as many startups are still in their infancy.

This section should encompass four key aspects of business traction:

  1. Company KPIs such as revenue figures and relevant metrics like customer churn and average revenue per customer.
  2. Financial growth trajectory.
  3. Pertinent customer testimonials, especially if they come from industry leaders within your customer segment. For early-stage rounds, highlight feedback from initial customers.
  4. Noteworthy achievements, such as product launches or milestones achieved.

6. Growth Challenges

Articulate the obstacles hindering further growth and explain why additional funding is imperative to overcome these hurdles.

7. Funding Request and Utilization

Discuss your historical fundraising achievements and your target for this round. Additionally, outline how the additional capital will contribute to the expansion of your business.

8. Team

Offer insights into the backgrounds of key team members. Investors seek assurance that your team possesses the expertise and experience to execute the vision articulated in previous sections.

Highlight how your team's domain knowledge, credentials, and experiences provide an edge in achieving success.

9. Frequently Asked Questions

This section serves as a substantial advantage over a pitch deck. Compile questions commonly posed during startup pitches, and include them in your investment memo, substantiating your responses with relevant data.

10. Executive Summary

Although this section is penned last, place it at the beginning of your memo. Summarize the main sections concisely in three bullet points:

  • Provide a succinct overview of your company.
  • Explain your current operations.
  • Describe your long-term vision, substantiating why investors should place their trust and capital in your venture. Don't shy away from articulating ambitious goals.

Further Resources for Enhanced Investment Memos

For additional inspiration, peruse the following investment memos:

  • Review published investment memos from Bessemer Venture Partners featuring renowned companies like Shopify, Twilio, Twitch, and LinkedIn.
  • Explore Vertex Ventures' retrospective and excerpts from the investment memo on Grab, particularly fascinating as they were Grab's inaugural VC investor in 2013.
  • Gain insights from the success stories of startups like Rippling, which raised $45 million, and Airbase, which secured $60 million in Series B funding in a mere ten days through their investment memos.

Jumpstart your investment memo with templates

Leverage well-written templates:

Investment memos: a component of the bigger picture

A well-crafted investment memo brings you one step closer to securing funding from the right investors. However, it's important to recognize that it forms just one piece of the comprehensive fundraising puzzle.

To maximize your prospects of success, acquire comprehensive knowledge about startup fundraising, encompassing all its intricacies.

Learn more about how Aspire’s solutions, such as the Business Account and Corporate Card, can help your startup with effective expense management, save costs and improve efficiency.

Ekky Pramana is a seasoned writer specialising in business finance and management. With a writing history at Tech in Asia, Teknoverso, and various other publishers, he leverages his market expertise to empower and educate first-time founders in managing their businesses better.
Ekky Pramana
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