How to Fundraise During COVID-19

Learn how to raise money over Zoom, hear whether revenue is important now, and more.
By Lindsey Marlowe

Last Updated: December 2, 2020

Published: May 20, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented entrepreneurs with a set of unique challenges. As the investment landscape shifts to online fundraising, business owners are met with the task of finding funds during a global crisis. At M13, we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit to adapt and pivot in unprecedented times.

Peter H. Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, chats with three venture capitalists about raising funds during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Courtney Reum, M13 Co-founder
  • Teymour Boutros-Ghali, Managing Partner, BOLD Capital
  • Dakin Sloss, Founder & General Partner, Prime Movers Lab

    These seasoned VCs walk entrepreneurs through the process of building and growing companies during COVID-19. Below we’ve recapped their discussion, followed by the full webinar video.

What’s your best advice for those who are pitching over Zoom?

Use Gallery View rather than Speaker View. When you use Gallery View, you can read body language rather than focusing on one person. You can see how others are reacting to build your response.

Try not to use Self View. If you’re in an in-person meeting, you don’t see yourself. Self View can distract you rather than help you focus on how your message is being received by the other person.

Virtual backgrounds can be distracting but are understandable. Many homes weren’t equipped to be full-time office spaces. When pitching via Zoom during COVID-19, it’s understandable to consider using a virtual background.

Tech is at a level that makes it I won't say the same as being in the room but pretty damn close.

Teymour Boutros-Ghali

Is now a good time to start a company?

  • It’s always a good time to start a company. You should start a company because you're passionate. You want to use that company to make a dent in the universe.
  • If you break through, it forces discipline may be not on the ideation, but on the execution.
  • This time is just one of many walls you’re going to encounter. Now is the time to figure out how to slam through or go around it.

    Periods of difficulty tend to bring the best out of entrepreneurs, or at least the ones who truly have a belief.

    Teymour Boutros-Ghali

What are venture capitalists looking for in a company?

  • In addition to your enthusiasm, VCs are also looking for an ability to be realistic about your milestones. You won’t always be able to raise money easily. You must be clear on your milestones.
  • It's important to be able to speak to investors about current trends and how you can capitalize on them. Articulate how you’re working with what’s happening in the world. You must be able to speak to how the company can benefit from what’s going on.
  • Think long-term with your company. Focusing on the short term is ineffective when no one knows what the medium or long term looks like.

    Periods of difficulty tend to bring the best out of entrepreneurs, or at least the ones who truly have a belief.

    Teymour Boutros-Ghali

How important is revenue right now?

It depends on the sector. Revenue is really the proof that the “dogs will eat the dog food.” But in some cases, such as pharma or biotech, disruptive technologies can receive funds without revenue.

In the broader market, more will be focused on the revenue stage from an investment perspective. Previously, investors were more comfortable letting things progress in the pre-revenue stage.

You're going to see a lot more people focused on revenue from an investment perspective who previously were kind of comfortable letting it ride for a while.

Dakin Sloss

What new ways of interacting will come from this pandemic?

  • Potentially expect the dissolution of traditional offices. Many companies are getting rid of some or all of their real estate holdings. It allows for companies to operate diversified.
  • Slack and Zoom are just the beginning. There’s a new generation of Wi-Fi coming out, 5G, VR systems, and so on.
  • Venture capitalists may now have to get comfortable investing in someone they’ve never met. Entrepreneurs must make sure their passion and enthusiasm comes across virtually.

    I'm really excited for someone to start something right now … if you're someone who gets people's attention in this climate, it means you really have something compelling.

    Teymour Boutros-Ghali

    Watch the full conversation with Courtney, Teymour, Dakin, and Peter below.

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