What Investor Sari Azout Bakalarz Looks for in a Founder

What Investor Sari Azout Bakalarz Looks for in a Founder

Who has the best advice for making a good impression on investors? The investors themselves. We asked investor Sari Azout Bakalarz what she looks for in a founder and what to include in a pitch deck, and every mama in the fundraising process needs to read what she has to say.

What do you look for in the founders you choose to fund?

I look for unbelievable understanding of a customer problem or opportunity, customer obsession, clarity of thought and vision, and undying passion. I look for people that surround themselves with great people and have an ability to magnetize great talent.

Overall, I’m looking for signs of founder/market fit. Why are they the right person to build this company? What drives them? Are they ambitious enough to build a huge commercial business that will impact many people? Are they mission-driven? Building a company is hard and takes years of endless work–are they willing to commit a decade of their lives to building this?

What should every pitch deck include?

No two decks should be the same, and the deck should come through as a great and authentic narrative, not a check the box formula.

But the best decks should help an investor answer:

  • What is the unique insight that leads to this opportunity?

  • Why do people want this more than existing alternatives?

  • Why is now the right time to build this?

  • Why is your team the one to do it?

  • What are the drivers of revenue and costs?

  • Do you have some way of distributing that solution, positioning to that customer why they should care, and why it’s better and worth adopting vs. the competition?

  • If and when others come after you, what are your moats?

How do mama-run businesses benefit society at large?

Neil DeGrasse said it best: Imagine how much more advanced society would be today if women, who comprise half the world’s brainpower, were socially & intellectually enfranchised from the beginning of civilization.

What are your top three tips for creating a pitch that stands out?

1)    Avoid buzzwords. Articulate the solution and the customer need in a clear, simple and compelling way. It’s incredible how many decks I can go through and still have no idea what a company does.

2)    Avoid vanity metrics. If your company has launched include real business indicators. No point in hiding them as investors will eventually need to see them. For a SaaS company not just funnel but ARR, recurring clients, churn, etc… For an e-comm brand, AOV, return rate, revenue, gross margin.

3)    Sell your purpose, not your product. You want to ground your business with a massive transformative purpose. Your deck should show that your head is in the clouds but your feet are on the ground—a deck with a grandiose purpose and mission statement but no operational plan or product strategy isn’t credible.

What mistakes do you find mama founders are most apt to make while fundraising?

Selling themselves short.

Why is right now a great time to be a mama in business?

There are so many businesses that women and mothers uniquely understand and are positioned to disrupt—childcare, healthcare, education, beauty, retail, to name a few.

That, combined with growing awareness of the importance of diversity and more channels to support female founders means the time has come for women to participate equally in the founding, funding, and building of the businesses that will dictate our future.

Through the MILF(und) campaign, mama entrepreneurs and investors share actionable tips to help the next wave of mama founders navigate the fundraising process successfully, just as HEYMAMA launches our first outside funding efforts after successfully bootstrapping for 4 years. Support our crowdfunding campaign with iFundWomen and receive rewards like the MILF(und) tee, mentoring sessions, and more in return!