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Startup Advice with Leonardo Massa

What are the most important parts of the pitch deck? And what makes the job of a venture capitalist so interesting?

Leonardo Massa is a deep tech enthusiast with a background in nanotech and material engineering, while also being a Venture Capitalist at Progress Tech Transfer fund, an Early stage VC investing in deep tech startups with a focus on climate.

What do you usually want to see in a startup before you decide to look into it further?

As an early-stage deep tech investor, I am looking for companies and their teams who develop products that work, both technologically and economically, before proceeding with the next step

Which sections of the pitch deck do you pay more attention to?

A startup with a strong team, a clear and compelling value proposition and a sound defendable plan will catch my attention. Among other critical sections of the pitch deck, I will focus on the following:

Management Team: specifically, I would like to know whether the core team members are knowledgeable in the field they intend to target, what their backgrounds are and if they have the skills to run the business behind the startup, what their long-term vision is, the value they add to the industry, and how they interact with each other.

Product or service: It is crucial to understand the startup's product or service, including how it works and how it solves a specific problem for its target market, its current need, and its unique competitive advantage against competitors. Understanding the current status of development and its roadmap timeline is also an essential element.

Financials and use of proceeds: Determine whether the plan is based on realistic assumptions with a clear path to profitability. I want to see capital efficiency and value creation, with realistic milestones and their drivers, in accordance with the amount of capital needed.

How did you get into this investment sector?

I got into the venture capital sector leveraging through my background as material and nanotechnology engineering; my first VC experience was working in corporate venture capital investing in deep tech in areas such as quantum computing, data storage, and synthetic bio.

What is the most interesting aspect of your job?

The most interesting and exciting aspect of working in this field is meeting founders from various industries and businesses. Knowing their innovation drivers and their vision allows me continue to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. Moreover, it allows me to gain a thorough understanding of different industries and business models.

How can a startup best prepare itself to succeed in the present?

Many factors can contribute to the success of a startup, but some key things that a startup can do to increase its chances of success include:

  • Establish a highly motivated and talented team of people who share the company's vision and values.

  • Focus on solving a specific problem for a target market and build traction around it by developing a unique value proposition.

  • Build awareness of the startup

  • Get in touch with seasoned mentors and advisors who can provide valuable advice and guidance.

  • Adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs by remaining agile.

  • Invest time and effort in building strong relationships with customers, partners, investors, and other stakeholders.

Ηow can startups in the Pre-Seed stage increase their chances of attracting investors’ interest?

Attracting investors' interest at the pre-seed stage is challenging, but there are several steps that can be taken to increase their chances of attracting investors.

Identifying and targeting the right investors is essential. Startups need to research and identify investors who operate at this stage and that have trust in their business and mission.

Demonstrate traction: Investors will be more likely to invest in startups that have already shown early traction and success. This includes any relevant evidence/metric that suggests future success.

Establish an investment opportunity; the company's needs and the investor's upside; develop a compelling business plan and a compelling pitch; develop a well-researched and well-written business plan that outlines the company's value proposition, its target market, its financial projections, its product development, why now, its unique advantage, and future market strategy.

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