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Written By: Marc Halpin


Dinners are fine, but I’ve always liked a proper lunch! Maybe it’s the Roger Sterling in me, I’m not sure.

There’s nothing better than getting together with some friends at mid-day with a good glass of wine, great food, and fantastic conversation. Yes, we’ve all got places to be I know, but come on – life is short people. Kick back a little, right?!

Last Thursday, Kerosene hosted our first ‘Ignite Luncheon’. Twenty of the best early-stage Founders in Chicago, our friends from TriNet, Cooley and SVB, Alex Kerr from Trajektory (more to come soon from Alex!) and, of course, the Kerosene gang. We had lunch on the rooftop of Gibson’s Italia on the Chicago River. 

The sun was shining, the floor to ceiling windows were wide open and, for a couple of hours, Chicago was the best city in the world!

I asked my good friend Andy Jenks to say a couple of words. Andy is a Partner with Drive Capital out of Columbus, Ohio. Andy covered a range of very exciting topics including a massive (and I mean massive) new fund Drive has just closed, a heavy new leaning towards early-stage pre-seed deals and a physical commitment to an office in Chicago. Go Drive, Go Chicago!

Over 30 minutes Andy shared some of his ‘inside baseball’ thoughts on pitching and some of his personal hot buttons Founders should focus on. All great stuff.

Here were the top three takeaways:

1) Know your numbers – “There’s nothing quite as off putting in a pitch as a founder who doesn’t know their numbers.” Knowing any number in your deck and how you got there is critical. Before pitching anyone, you should be sure you are able to defend any number you’ve included.

2) Understand the ‘Use of Funds’. – “It always amazes me when people can’t say what they’ll do with the investment dollars in really specific terms.” Understanding why you need the funds and exactly what you’ll do with the inbound capital is critical. This goes beyond $X amount going toward the engineering team. This is, “We plan to hire 10 engineers by September. This will allow us to deploy ABC feature which will increase user retention by X%.”

3) Have conviction. – “We like to challenge people when they pitch to see if they simply agree, or if they have conviction to their business plan.” It’s an investors job to get to ‘no’, so they’re going to poke holes – a lot of them! You should be able to defend your plan. Now, that said, I’m not suggesting you don’t listen to what is inadvertently being suggested to consider, but you should be able to defend your path forward and how you decided on said path. 

Great points to consider if you’re raising capital, I think you’ll agree. Consider role playing with your Co-Founders before you get in front of Andy, Drive Capital or any other great venture firm. It’ll probably help.

Want to talk about any of the above? Drop us an email. The next Kerosene ‘Ignite’ luncheon is Friday, September 16th. Come join us on the rooftop.


Kerosene Ventures – Helping Great Founders Raise Capital