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The NFX Founder Toolkit

The NFX Team · @NFX · Dec 2021

The NFX Founder Toolkit

NFX has always seen capital as rocket fuel for the next generation of pre-seed and seed-stage companies. But we’ve never been just about the money.

Having been Founders and operators ourselves, we have deep empathy and affection for the Founder’s journey, and want to give you every unfair advantage to build a lasting company.

That’s why, in addition to writing checks and championing our Guild companies, we’ve also spent the last 4 years nonstop building products and content for the startup ecosystem.

Today, we’re sharing the top 10 tools we’ve built for Founders — based on feedback from our Founders and readers.

  1. Signal: Fundraising Network for Founders
  2. BriefLink: Private, trackable & free fundraising deck links
  3. The Network Effects Bible & Map
  4. The Ladder of Proof Fundraising Checklist
  5. 16 Fundraising Lessons: A Video Playlist
  6. The NFX Marketplace Scorecard
  7. 8 Playbooks For Building Viral Products
  8. The NFX Company Culture Playbook & Scorecard
  9. The Executive Onboarding Manual Pete Flint Used At Trulia
  10. Whiteboard Breakdowns: Videos on Startup Leadership, Risks, Network Effects, & More

From Signal and BriefLink software, to fundraising checklists, culture scorecards, network effects maps, and more, we are dedicated to helping Founders worldwide maximize their networks, fundraise, and grow their companies.

1. Signal: The Fundraising Network for Founders

The unseen force behind many investments are the VC’s friends. Friends who help them find opportunities, introduce them to teams, evaluate companies, and build trust with Founders. Our networks, these relationships, are all around us. We just can’t see them easily. Signal changes that.

Signal is a free tool to make the Founder-VC network visible and actionable. It’s easy-to-use software that helps you get the intros you need to the right VCs. See who likes to invest together. Build your shortlist of people to target. And track your progress in building that network.

It’s used by 14k+ investors and 100,000’s of Founders.

Visit: Signal

BriefLink is a free & private tool for startup Founders to craft their best fundraising pitch decks and get investor meetings by sending their BriefLink. It’s as easy as Notion, and more informative than DocSend. BriefLink was purpose-built just for fundraising.

Our beta version quietly helped Founders raise over $4.3B from investors in just 2 years. More than 15,000 Founders used it. The newest version of BriefLink includes the original Brief deck builder, along with new video, stats, and a deck-only mode. It’s also integrated with the Signal investing network of 14,000 top investors, VCs, Scouts, and Angels.

Visit: BriefLink

3. The Network Effects Bible & Map

Network effects have been responsible for 70% of all the value created in technology since 1994. They are the strongest defensibility remaining in the digital age, but not all network effects are created equal — as demonstrated by our network effects map and manual.

For Founders looking to build truly impactful companies, few areas of expertise are more valuable. This ebook includes a comprehensive collection of terms and insights related to network effects all in one place.

Get: The Network Effects Bible

Watch: The Network Effects Map (2:20 min video)

4. The Ladder of Proof Fundraising Checklist

The “ladder of proof” is a mental framework VCs use to evaluate a startup. Each rung represents a predictor of risk or success. The further up the ladder your startup climbs, the more signals you are sending to investors that it’s a sizable opportunity and a worthwhile investment.

This visual framework comes with a simple graphic that Founders can print out and put up on their walls. The key is to always be aware of your place on the ladder so you can communicate successfully with each VC you speak with, employee you recruit, and journalist you pitch. It’s also a good source of motivation for you, as you also have to prove to yourself that you’re capable of climbing these rungs.

Get: The Ladder of Proof

5. 16 Fundraising Lessons: Video Playlist

As Founders ourselves, we at NFX have started 10 venture-backed companies that exited for over $10 Billion. During that time as Founders and now as VCs, we’ve seen 16 counterintuitive lessons in pitching VCs that increase your odds of success.

In this very short, digestible playlist of videos, NFX’s James Currier talks through non-obvious lessons for leveling up your next pitch. Especially useful is the final video in the series: Understanding VC psychology.

Watch: 16 Fundraising Lessons Video Playlist

6. The NFX Marketplace Scorecard

We’re often asked by Founders and other investors what we look for in marketplaces. It depends, of course. Marketplaces are really very different from each other.

But after founding and investing in 60+ marketplaces, we’ve developed an internal methodology we use to invest or advise a marketplace: The NFX Marketplace Scorecard. The higher the score, the higher the potential of the marketplace.

Get: The NFX Marketplace Scorecard

7. 8 Playbooks For Building Viral Products

We’ve now helped 12 companies get to at least 10 million users each, including companies like Poshmark and Goodreads. What we’ve learned is that the foundation of viral growth is rooted in motivational psychology and language.

More specifically, there are 8 motivation clusters we found that cause people to share.

Knowing these motivation clusters will enable you to build virality into your product.

Get: 8 Playbooks for Building Viral Products

8. The NFX Company Culture Playbook & Scorecard

The engine of high-performing teams is strong company culture. Culture is what enables teams of people to defy the odds and achieve the remarkable. It lets companies grow and scale with far fewer coordination costs.

This playbook plus interactive scorecard is a quick, tactical resource for laying the foundation of a high-performing company culture.

Get: The NFX Company Culture Playbook and Company Culture Scorecard

9. The Executive Onboarding Manual Pete Flint Used At Trulia

Onboarding is of paramount importance to successful hiring. It’s also the step most often missing — especially when bringing on new executives and senior management.

Founder-CEOs spend a disproportionate amount of time sourcing, interviewing, negotiating, and hiring an A-player, but after they welcome them on Day 1, then what?

Get: Pete Flint’s Manual for Onboarding New Executives

10. Whiteboard Breakdowns: Virality, Network Effects, & More

Founders are in a hurry. We get it. So we created a YouTube series of quick, easy to share videos that explain some favorite concepts visually on the whiteboard. See Gigi Levy-Weiss walk through what it takes to be a strong startup CEO, watch Pete Flint break down why Founders should take more risk, and learn from James Currier as he whiteboards a simple primer on Network Effects.

Watch: The NFX Whiteboard Breakdowns


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As Founders ourselves, we respect your time. That’s why we built BriefLink, a new software tool that minimizes the upfront time of getting the VC meeting.

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