According to Kelly Fitzgerald, Marketing Manager at The Launch Place, some advice for creating pitch decks is painfully obvious:

  • Make it crystal clear what your company does.
  • Be explicit about the problem you’re solving—why would people trade money for what you offer?
  • And most important—be direct about your ask. What do you need? How will those resources be used?

Kelly shared insights from The Launch Place, the Danville-based non-profit and for-profit investment firm, at RIoT’s Lunch and Learn this afternoon.

And her advice, once you’ve done those three things, and once you’ve gone through your pitch? Ask again.

“Have the ask twice. Reiterate it, after I’ve heard everything,” said Kelly.

Kelly shared that she’s seen pitches where entrepreneurs, startups, and companies are so focused on sharing specific details that they miss the basics, or they don’t have a direct ask in their pitch.

She’s also seen pitches where the speakers rush through financials or aren’t clear about their pathway to profitability.

“In terms of your pitch, communicating to investors—make sure you get to how you’re going to make money. That’s so important.”


RIoTers in attendance asked Kelly some questions about what she’s seen through The Launch Place:

Q: What are the mistakes you’ve seen from pitches?
A: “Not knowing financials. Be sure you know your numbers—inside and out. Ultimately, we’re investing in you.”

Q: When’s the best time for a startup to pitch?
A: “Right when the product is pretty much finished, or right when the service platform is pretty much complete… maybe when you have people signing on… right there when you’re getting ready to flip to revenue.”

Q: What’s the timeline from interview to the application? (The Launch Place often interviews companies before asking them to fill out the application.)
A: “Pretty immediate… we’ll tell you where to go after the interview.”

Q: So you’re actively seeking right now?
A: “Yes. We have companies for our December Advisory Board meeting, possibly 1-2 are ready for January. The interviews are anytime. We accept that all year.”

Q: What do you advise to companies that are not ready to pitch yet but want to be on your radar?
A: “Have that sit-down conversation with us. And periodic emails – when you reach a milestone or something big is happening, please reach back out. I’d say definitely have that phone conversation rather than just email.”

Q: What’s the IRR you’re looking for?
A: “With our Danville impact, we’re looking for 2x, 5x… 10x is great… but if you’re creating that Danville impact… we’re okay with a smaller return, because you’re creating that impact.”

Q: What’s your return horizon?
A: “7-10 years, realistically.”

Q: To what degree do you control how the companies use the money that you invest?
A: “This is in our terms. One of our requirements is for you to have a formal board. You don’t have to have this on investment, but you need to have a plan for it. It has to be made up of other people besides the founders. We may not have the board seat, but it will be someone from the syndicate. So that’s where that oversight could come in, because that could be a voting seat. Sometimes it’s a nonvoting seat, just for observation.”


The Danville Regional Foundation awarded The Launch Place $10 million grant in 2012, to help foster an environment of entrepreneurship and innovation with the goal to build a stronger local and regional economy. Out of $10 million, a $5 million seed fund was established to invest in start-ups and serial entrepreneurs.

In their first 5 years of operation, the Launch Place has made 14 seed and pre-seed investments, with several of the companies coming through the RIoT network. Their first portfolio exit happened in 2018 with the acquisition of iScribes.

The Launch Date also hosts two events annually—The Big Launch Challenge, hosted earlier this month, and IdeaFest, hosted each spring.


Follow RIoT at for news and updates about partners like The Launch Place and more upcoming Lunch & Learn events.