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The 3 Superheroes Theory of Pitching

Finding your heroic focus will help wow an investor. 

Founders might not be leaping tall buildings in a single bound to save the day, but they are moving industries forward and shaping the future. Founders use powers of persuasion to energize early employees and customers and are often nearly invincible to accepting no as an answer as they build their company.

Founders are superheroes.

Kryptonite isn’t the poison sapping the strength of a startup, but undercapitalization can create weakness and cause a startup’s downfall. The great enemy of a superhero founder during fundraising is a lack of interest from investors.

So, how can a founder grab the interest of a potential investor and avert disaster? By showcasing what makes their superhero powers shine.

At its core, the 3 Superheroes Theory outlines three potential ways a founder can position their company in the mind of an investor. The secret is that only one can be chosen for the strategy to be most effective.

By finding the most fitting superhero story from the three distinct options, founders can craft a pitch that cuts to the heart of the value being created by the company. This will pique interest and give stakeholders and potential investors clarity.

Choose Your Heroic Approach

1. The Iron Man Suit

Occasionally, a startup has such strong uniqueness and novel intellectual property (IP) that an investor must take notice. The idea simply… flies.

When thinking about superheroes in general, the ability to fly is impressive with notable examples from the likes of Superman, Green Lantern, and Storm. But it isn’t unique enough to pitch alone.

Iron Man’s suit enables flight as a feature, but the suit itself encompasses SO much more than just flight—it can stand by itself as an incredible creator of value.

But the Iron Man Suit pitch is the rarest of the superhero pitches because the execution of a novel idea is usually what drives the real value of a startup. A specific patent or highly unique approach to a market is sometimes strong enough to demand an investor’s attention in the way an Iron Man suit would, but most founders will fall into one of the other superhero pitch archetypes.

2. The Avengers

Is your team the secret to your company’s success? A collection of superheroes with unique powers that can do more collectively than individually? Then you have an Avengers story to tell.

A startup should choose this story when the secret sauce of the company lies within the team itself. The combination of the team members is what will jolt the investor into realizing the weight of the opportunity. Sometimes, this has to do with past exits team members have had. If they’ve successfully built well-known companies from day one through large exit, the startup’s pitch will most likely be an Avengers-style story. Or if the founding team is stacked with a rare caliber of scientist or technologist who could easily hold high-value positions outside of the startup, then it’s likely that the Avengers angle is the one to showcase.

3. Superman Feat

Traction demands attention and shuts down debate. Founders can make lofty claims about the impact of their solution and investors often play devil’s advocate, but once a founder can prove their claims with real data (like customer sales), the debate is over. If the traction is in the form of undeniable proof— usually comes in the form of quickly growing revenue—from customers, traction trumps all.

Let’s think about Superman. If Superman was pitching his superpowers as a startup, what would attract attention from investors? His flight, superhuman strength, and laser vision—while certainly cool—aren’t likely to demand attention since they’re just examples of what he could do. But by showing how his super strength combined to save a train full of people (complete with their testimonials), or showing how he harnessed his flight to reverse time on Earth, those feats would be impossible to ignore.

A Complete Picture with Special Focus

When pitching an investor, you need to share a complete picture of your company. But your goal should be to really show off in the area that makes you uniquely positioned to be successful. Work to craft your pitch around one of the superhero themes to implant the best of your company into the mind of the investor. When the pitch is done, the investor should have no doubt what your superpower is. Start your pitch strong with your superhero choice, and then weaving it into the entirety of the pitch.

For example, if you believe your company has an Avengers-style story, bump your team slide up to the front of your pitch and wow the investor with who before showing the what and how. The strength of your team should be woven through your narrative about the technology you’re building and the traction you’re seeing.

Choosing to highlight the strongest part of the company—whether it’s IP, an incredible team, or undeniable traction—will draw focus to the area driving the most value within the startup and hold the interest of investors.


Elizabeth Caven
Elizabeth is an experienced entrepreneur-turned-fintech-investor. When not working with startups, she can be found remodeling old homes with her husband or embarrassing her four kids by cheering too loudly at their sporting events.