Nov. 30, 2022

#101 Josh Pitches The Pitch

#101 Josh Pitches The Pitch

The Pitch is back! And a whole lot has changed since buying the show from Gimlet, bringing host Josh Muccio and cofounder Lisa Muccio somewhere they never thought they’d be — pitching in front of the investors…on their own show. But is the host of The Pitch any good at pitching?

Transcript

Enoch Kim: Pitch, day three, number six. Have fun!

Neal Sáles-Griffin: Let's go. Well done.  

Phil Nadel: Yeehaw.

A few weeks ago, I did something that I thought I’d never do.

Neal: Good energy. 

Mark Phillips: Love the energy. Enoch!

I pitched the investors on my own show. And it was a complete surprise. The investors had no idea. 

Jillian Manus: If it's Tushy, I'm gonna kill myself.

Phil: It’s these guys.

Josh Muccio: Hello. How's it going

[laughter]

Jillian: Hi, nice to meet you!

Mark: I love you so much on the podcast. It's a pass. It's a pass.

Lisa: I'm Lisa.

Victor Gutwein: Did you know this? Did you know this was happening?

Jillian: No. I did not.

Victor: Come on. You were in on it.

Jillian: No! I was about to leave! Now you have to stay. Okay. Hi.

Josh: So do I just start whenever?

Mark: This is gonna be good.

Josh: Hey everyone. My name's Josh Muccio. I'm the host, founder and now owner of The Pitch podcast.

Lisa: I'm Lisa Muccio, and I'm the cofounder of The Pitch podcast.

Let me just pause the pitch right here, and yes you heard that right. This is Lisa and my pitch to the investors on our show. But before you hear it, I want to tell you a story. I’ve been building this show with my cofounder slash wife Lisa for years. It started in 2016 when we hosted our first big pitch event at a studio in San Francisco…

We found twelve startups raising capital, and convinced them to let us record their pitch in front of five investors.

Those 12 pitches became season 1 of The Pitch. We saw real investments happen in the room.

Phil: I think we do a 3 million dollar valuation, and we do the whole thing.

Jillian: Phil!

Phil: 3 million, we do the whole thing.

Jillian: I can’t.

Phil: Jillian!

The company from that pitch, Fight Camp, is valued at several hundred million dollars today. That first season opened the door for an exciting opportunity for our show. This was back in 2017. And what we did was pretty unprecedented. We sold our show to a fledgling new podcast network, Gimlet Media.

The rest of this story you probably already know, we produced 8 seasons of our show with Gimlet. 

Jillian Manus: I’m blowing so much money on this podcast, I’m going to kill you. 

Howie Diamond:  It’s all your fault Josh

And yeah the investors, put a lot of money in the startups on our show. Over 10 million dollars. And then… Gimlet sold to Spotify, COVID happened, we had to stop recording new pitches, and this show went on hiatus. 

But then, in July of this year, plot twist, we decided to buy our show back from Gimlet and take it independent.

Today on the show, we tell the story of resurrecting The Pitch. A podcast that’s been dormant for over a year and a half. The last couple months, they’ve been amazing! And, super hard. (but so much fun)

And then later on in the show, in what will probably be the most meta thing ever, I’m going to try my hand at pitching our company, The Pitch Inc, to the investors on The Pitch. And one would think that the host of The Pitch would be very good at pitching?

And that’s exactly why I did NOT want to do it. Even though I’ve never raised from VC’s before, I knew that you all would expect me to be good at it.

And if I failed, I was afraid the credibility of the show would be on the line. And that was nerve wracking as hell. But in the end we did it anyway. And the best part, we completely winged it. 

All that’s coming up, in a hot minute.

[break]

This story starts earlier this year with a text from someone listeners of this show will know well – tenacious but gracious Jillian Manus.

Jillian: Love to catch up this week. My husband and I have an idea. 

It had been over a year since we’d spoken. So we jumped on the phone to catch up. I remember I was pacing around my pool deck at our home in Florida. As I often did during COVID times. Jillian didn’t just want to catch up though – she had an idea.

Jillian: I really think The Pitch needs to exist.  Josh is there anything we can do to help? With Spotify or really anything else, legal, funding?  Whatever you need, whatever it takes, we’re in. We need to bring The Pitch back!

We were already working with Gimlet to buy The Pitch back. But this was critical for us. If we were going to successfully relaunch the show we would need Jillian and the other investors to be bought in. But was she the only one? 

We started calling around to the other investors, Phil Nadel, Charles Hudson, Elizabeth Yin. And one by one they said unanimously, YES! If you buy the show back, we’d love to be a part of it again.

This is a big commitment, investors on our show fly to whatever city we’re recording in on their own dime, and they spend 2-3 full days recording new pitches with us. People are often surprised to hear this, but the investors on our show are not paid actors. So to hear them say, we’re ready to do the show again for the first time in years, this meant the world to me and Lisa.

And then, about a month later. We bought our show back from Gimlet. Which was an incredible feeling. But also… we were on our own again, which was a little scary. And if we were going to bring back this show, we wanted to do it right. And to produce a high-production narrative show like this, it ain’t cheap. You need producers, editors, sound designers. And that’s just on the editorial side. We’d also need to handle sales and ad operations.

So we put together a budget, and we started asking the investors on our show, if they would invest in our new media company, The Pitch, Inc. Original I know.

And we raised $110k almost immediately. From Jillian Manus, her husband Rob Chesnut, and Elizabeth Yin. 

Elizabeth: That’s actually amazing that you were able to get it back and continue growing with it. You know, I was also excited that it could be out there in the world again. And I think that this is great content that needs to be out there in the world for every entrepreneur to hear, and I think the show is really important.

Yes, the investors on our show, invested in us, to help bring back The Pitch. 

We wanted to raise $500,000 in total, but we had enough to get started. So, we booked a studio in Chicago for our first big recording event, Lisa and I started meeting with potential founders, and we brought on a producer and sound engineer.

But there was still more to figure out. Like…..how exactly would The Pitch make money?

Should we do a patreon, should we do a deal with another podcast network, should we do merch, or something else entirely.

You know who's really good to talk to for stuff like this, investors. So we called up each of our current investors, got their take on things. We even brought them in for contract discussions for a new deal we were working on.

And there was one particular expert we wanted to talk to. Investor Charles Hudson … in part because he said he wanted to invest in the show, but also, he's someone we deeply trust, and we wanted his advice on this crazy idea we had.

Charles: How are you? 

Lisa: I am doing well. How are you doing 

Charles: things have been crazy. 

Lisa: Yeah. 

Charles: Uh, very busy. We're just wrapping up our new fund. 

Lisa: Oh, oh wow. 

Charles: We have a bajillion portfolio companies. you know, um, it's it's a lot. 

Lisa:  Well, Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

Charles: Of course, of course.. 

Josh: Yeah Yeah. So couple objectives. We just wanna like fill you in, on everything that's happening at the pitch  and also like find out where you're at as far as investing in The Pitch. 

Charles: Oh yeah. I need to take care of that. Yeah, I'm gonna do it personally. Probably not through Precursor so…

Josh: Okay. Yeah. We're uh, as we're supposed to say, you know, wrapping up the round the next couple weeks. Trying to figure out allocations for who... Everybody keeps telling me to say that. And I'm like, 

Charles: That's what they say, 

Josh: Charles is gonna see right through that. 

Charles: Oftentimes it's true!

Josh: Yeah. 

Awesome, so Charles was in! He would invest $25k in our media company. But, while we had him, we wanted his advice on something else. Something we’d thought about years ago, but didn’t seriously consider it until a couple months back when I started checking in on the past founders we’ve featured on this show.

Many of those founders have gone on to build massive businesses. They’ve raised from the biggest names in venture and their companies are now valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

As the host of this show, I’ve seen the unique deal flow this show gets from all over the country, and the world. We’ve taken that amazing deal flow, and served it right up to VC’s on a silver platter. And then all we’ve done is make a little money on ads.

You might be able to tell where all this is going, and this is one of the reasons we bought the show back… The Pitch is starting a fund! 

Charles: Wow! Nice.

Lisa: So what we really wanna hear, or what I really wanna hear is I wanna hear your feedback on this. Like, are we crazy stupid or is this like just something that's duh, like we should have been doing this?

Charles: Don't think it's dumb. I would tell you about that. It's dumb. It's definitely, it's definitely not dumb. Okay. I think the question  is, does it… right now the, The Pitch is very pure. Yeah. Like you bring people on that. You find interesting. You have a good story to tell that are like within the realm of investability. Yeah. Mm-hmm and like, some of them are great. Some of them trying to be like great investments and some of them are just like great stories.

Right. And I would just wonder if like having the fund would like, not explicitly, but like in the back of your mind, would you start thinking like an investor, which you already do, but I think like part of why I think people like the pitch is like, people always suddenly that like, we love the conversation.

Like it's it's entertainment plus education mm-hmm is like the, if I were to distill the feedback I get from people all the time, um, and I would hate. to lose some of the things that make the show great. And I think  for these things, it's like, then the question becomes, if it's not, everybody gets an offer, you end up in these weird situations where if you do the picking, then what signal does it send to the teams that you don't pick? Right? like, what happens if you end up like doing the picking mm-hmm and you don't pick people? Is that like a negative signal or what happens if all the ones that you want to pick? None of them say yes. And then you end up with this weird adverse selection where like the only people who take your of money are the ones who like, can't get it.

You, all of these models end up being like fraught with challenges. Yeah.  And the, the flip side is it will make the, it gives you this whole new line of storytelling, which is like after the pitch that's and because you're investors, you're going to have a reason to continue to tell that story, if you want to, and you're gonna have access to the company,

Josh: Right.

Lisa: Mm-hmm.  Yeah. 

Josh: Like, obviously I'm excited to invest also alongside the investors on our show, I think. Yeah. Kind of piggybacking on your due diligence. Yep. And your expertise is really smart. So I think for companies that we would invest in through the funds that do appear on the show, oh, show part of, we would wait until. After the pitch is like, not after it's aired, but like after it's recorded and while you guys are going through due diligence, mm-hmm, at least provide some objectivity for a period of time. umm 

Charles: think that's a, if that's the, that's the focus, I would say it's more interesting because you're already doing that work and there's like no signaling and like it's a mechanism for you to.  I would just say, if you can do it in a way that doesn't doesn't negatively impact the product.

Lisa: mm-hmm okay.

Josh: Yeah.  So tell me about what you think about this. We wanna raise the fund publicly  And we wanna let in people,  for as little as 10 K 

Charles: Yeah.

Josh: Really thinking of the fund as kind of a, an access point you get in, you get access to the live stream. Like Lisa was of the recording event. Mm-hmm you can give us feedback live. Um, but then also. We'll then facilitate, um, if, you know, the founder allows like facilitate a syndicate on the deals that they're most excited about.

Charles: Yep. 

Josh: And so they can double down and basically like 10 K is kind of the price of admission yeah. To the fund country club. Um, yeah. 

Charles:. I, I think it's a neat idea. I, I, I think with this model of like, cuz you're gonna touch so many people  and again, as long as you can keep it clean, neat and tidy, I think it's, it's worth exploring.  

Josh: I also feel like we can kind of get out of the whole, like, we don't have to be the smartest VCs in the room. Like, like, we're just,

Charles: You very well might be!

Josh: what? No, well, no. I mean, like we just, we're just leveraging our net network of people that are smarter and better. And like our value is the storytelling we do. Mm-hmm on show our value isn't necessarily all the other stuff that VCs typically provide.

Charles: I can tell you people have started venture funds with way weaker value propositions than what you've  outlined.  It’s a good idea 

Josh: Great. Okay. And do you need anything from us? Uh, 

Charles: No I think I have the SAFE, I just have to, I've been trying to get a bunch of portfolio stuff done. I will take care of that this week. All right. 

Josh: Thank you, Charles. All right. You too. Thanks for you. Looking forward to seeing you at the recording event. 

Charles: Yep. Same bye. 

Josh: Bye. 

After that conversation with Charles, we knew exactly how to structure The Pitch Fund. The fund strategy is simple, going forward we will co-invest alongside the investors on our show. If they invest in a startup on the podcast, the fund will invest too. If we would have employed this simple strategy in the past, The Pitch Fund would have ownership in an outstanding portfolio of startups that rivals many of the best early stage funds. 

And we were there. We found the founders, brought them in front of some of the best early stage VC’s in the world, all we had to do was cut the check. Anyways, you live and learn! But all that to say. We’re starting a fund! And you need to know that, because it comes up in our pitch.

So, in addition to planning our first recording event, raising another $25k from a strategic angel investor, and negotiating a potential partnership with a podcast network. Oh yeah forgot to mention that. We’ve been starting this fund. It’s been a liiiittle bit busy. 

But, it all came together earlier this month at a studio in Chicago, IL. Where for the first time since 2019, we invited founders from all over the country and abroad, to come pitch the investors on our show. 

And not to give anything away, but the recording event was a smash hit. We had over $900k committed to 5 startups over the course of 3 days. You’ll hear those stories on the next season of our show. But today you’ll hear Lisa and me pitch The Pitch.

Okay… should we cue the investor intro music? Yes… yes we should.

[investor intro music starts]

Hey y’all, I’m Neil Sales-Griffin, Managing Director at Tech Star Chicago

Hey, I’m Jillian Manus, Managing Partner of Structure Capital

I’m Phil Nadel, I’m the Managing Director of Forefront Venture Partners

Hi, I’m Mark Phillips, Managing Director of 11 Tribes Ventures

Hello, I’m Victor Gutwein, I’m the Founder and Managing Partner of M25

[investor intro music ends]

We had not intended to pitch The Pitch on our own show, in fact, as I mentioned, I was actively avoiding it. But then, on our third and final day of recording. At the last possible minute, Lisa and I said screw it, we would give our pitch to the investors on our own show. YOLO! It was so last minute that you’ll actually hear two of the investors duck out early. We had no time to prepare, which actually helped with my nerves. But then, we walked in the pitch room. That’s when the nerves hit, had I really not prepared anything? Lisa’s leg started to shake. And then, we launched into our pitch. And everything I’d coached the founders on our show to do the past 7-years came flooding back. First… comes the intro.

Josh: Hey everyone. My name's Josh Muccio. I'm the host, founder and now owner of The Pitch podcast.

Lisa: I'm Lisa Muccio, and I'm the cofounder of The Pitch podcast. 

Josh: So we started this company back in 2016 because we thought, you know, Shark Tank, like that's a bunch of bull***. Like that is not how these deals get done. And like what if there was a show that truly represented how founders can close deals with investors? Something that listeners can learn from and then build their companies on? Having access to that information could be truly groundbreaking for so many people that don't come from that background and just don't have the connections. And truthfully when we first started the show, I couldn't have told you that. I had no idea that that's what we were doing. I just wanted to make a cool podcast. And oh my word - am I gonna cry?

[laughter]

Josh: Oh my goodness. I'm not a crier. Um... And it's incredible to be here today and actually see that vision becoming a reality. As many of you have seen, this is the last pitch of the day on day three. Um a lot of the companies - oh my gosh, I've got dry mouth. I need water.

Lisa: We didn't bring water for ourselves.

Josh: You've seen - thank you, Neil - so many companies have come on the show because they started their businesses after hearing our show and getting inspired, and listening to someone else's journey and realizing,  I - I could do it. Like, I'm gonna take the leap. And that, you know, when you multiply that over the years we've been doing this is just - it makes it all worthwhile. So I'm super grateful to be here today. Um - We've built this podcast over the years. There are hundreds of thousands of people, mainly entrepreneurs, investors, and tech executives that listen to our show each month. And we have something like 80 to 120,000 listeners on every single Pitch episode we publish. Now the last couple years have been - um -  [Lisa laughs] Challenging. But we've come out the other side. Ah a few months ago we were actually able to buy our show back from Spotify, take it independent and I'm excited to announce to you guys today that on the next season of the show, we will be partnering with Vox Media and be one of their shows syndicated alongside  Recode, Pivot, Prof G, Land of the Giants, and other truly unrivaled business podcasts. But we learned a few things along the way. This partnership's a little bit different. Happy to dive into the details. But the next stage of our growth for this show is gonna be even more impactful than the last. And we're actually here raising a $500,000 - I don't know - friends and family, we could call it a pre-seed, I don't really care. It's at a 5-mil cap.  We've got some legendary investors involved and uhh I would love to have more of you along for the journey.

Jillian: And how much is raised?

Josh: We've got 160.

Lisa: Yeah. 

Jillian: And so how are you going to use? What do you need this for?

Lisa: So right now,  because of our partnership with Vox Media, they've asked us to wait to publish until February.  and the terms on that are we don't get paid til 60 days after we start publishing, so really we won't see revenue until April. So we basically have to get to April  we have to pay producers and editors and we need it for publishing. We just need it for production costs.

Jillian: And so the deal with Vox Media,  can you explain a little bit about that?

Josh: Yeah, so it's [coughs] it's - so, we have - Jillian, you don't have to act like you haven't invested.

[laughter]

Jillian: Yes, I'm an investor, my husband is an investor. And I have to say, in a lot of ways, we were kind of - we instigated this a little bit, because we called them up  a bit ago and said, this is ridiculous. Uh we've heard from so many people  over the past couple of years saying, I learned so much. This changed my - my - my life, you know. I've raised -  the guy who came in here  who said, right after I heard The Pitch, I was able to raise $250,000 the next day. There have been people who stop me in the street, there are people who come up to me who hug me, a grandmother hugged me, because - in Safeway - because - 

Phil: Let's hear - let's hear about the Vox deal. This isn’t the Jillian story.

Jillian: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

Josh: That is the pitch for The Pitch.

Jillian: That is the pitch, is that this has created an entire generation of entrepreneurs and even investors, which is why this, The Pitch, is actually, I think, so valuable. That's the point. It is not the Jillian story, Phil.

Phil: Right. So let's hear about the Vox deal.

Jillian: It's the story of The Pitch.

Josh: And Jillian, I know you have to leave to hop on a flight.

Jillian: Yeah, I do. I do.

Josh: But I wanted you here for the beginning of it. So -

Jillian: Phil, Bite me.

[laughter and goodbyes]

Phil: Goodbye

Jillian: Goodbye!

Josh: what were we - what were we saying?

Phil: The Vox deal.

Josh: Oh the Vox deal. Yeah. So they basically, it's an ad revenue deal. they handle all of the ad sales for the show, but they also handle obviously the distribution, and promotion of the show.

Lisa: Cross promotion.

Josh: So they're gonna promote us across the Vox Media network.

Mark: Congratulations. That's exciting.

Victor: But they don't give you any help with production at all?

Josh: No.

Lisa: Not for the - yeah - no, not for the podcast.

Josh: But that's actual - we could've done that deal many different ways.

Victor: Yeah.

Josh: We wanted to do it that way.

Mark: You've got control on that situation.

Josh: We've got control. And we have the team because of the relationships we've built at Gimlet over the past few years. Like Enoch, in the back right now, making everybody sound so great, I mean, he is so much of what makes the show sound amazing.

Neal: Mhm.

Mark: Right.

Josh: So he handles the music, he produces a lot of the music. Anyway, I could go on about the team but -

Mark: I'm curious because it's a, you know, a - a bit of a different business model. How do the two of you think about long term exit strategies?

Lisa: Mhm. That's a very popular question.

Mark: I bet.

Josh: I would say, we - I can't - we don't have an answer for that. Because I think - and I don't want to have an answer for that right now. We've seen what happens when we exit to -  [Lisa laughs]  we've gone through this before and we - I mean, we're gonna be super intentional about what happens next. They would have to be the right partner.

Mark: Yeah. It's more or less what I expected you to say. Really, it is. It's not - I don't think it's the right - I actually think it's probably the right answer. So thanks for sharing that.

Neal: I'm gonna work on a - I have to go get my cab - but like, I love y'all. This is amazing. I've had the best week ever so -

Lisa: Thanks Neal.

Neal: I'm in for something. Let's figure out what that is and like make something happen.

Josh: We'll talk later.

Neal: We'll talk more later. But I know you're gonna hunt me down. You're gonna find me.

Mark: Take it offline.

Neal: You know where I live.

Josh: Pending terms.

Neal: No. I hear the terms. The terms make sense. Like, you're in my price range. Let's get it.

Mark: Well, how much is the -

Neal: I got you.  I - I love you all.

Mark: He's leaving.

Josh: What's the minimum you'd invest?

Neal: Ah you're talk - cash wise?

Josh: Yeah. Oh, you got something else in mind?

Mark: Bitcoin!

Neal: Hey I was gonna say, man, no - no, I - I'm in for five figures.

Lisa: Okay.

Josh: I like five figures.

Neal: So we'll work on that from there.

Lisa: Okay.

Josh: That's outstanding.

Lisa: Thank you, Neal.

Neal: Deal.

Neal: Good to see you guys.

Josh: And what I wish every founder would do when a deal happens - YES! Let's go!

[laughter]

Mark: He's bringing all of his fantasies to life. Yeah. This is great.

Neal: See y'all.

Mark: See you neal.

Victor: Is it ad - ad revenue and what? T shirts, subscriptions, what have we got? 

Lisa: Okay. 

Phil: Yeah, what are your revenue -

Victor: What is the main revenue? I know it's ads and then what else?

Lisa: Ad revenue is big. And then membership.  So if you think about a typical membership option that has tiers, you know, like maybe you have like your $5 and your $10 and then maybe you have a $50 tier. Okay, our top tier would be - you're an LP in the Pitch fund. So you get access to those deals. Then maybe there's a middle tier where ah where you get access to some of the um deals that don't go live right away. And so there's like an SPV that happens or a syndicate -

Josh: That would be the syndicate membership.

Lisa: So and then the lower - obviously the lower tier is just like your Pitch plus, like Apple subscription type membership where no ads.

Lisa: Yeah. So look at it that way.

Josh: Yeah. No ads, and then like a few bonus episodes.

Victor: Is carry on the deals of revenue stream as well?

Mark: Oh, you stole the question right out of my mouth. 

Okay. Sorry to interrupt my own pitch, but, for the all the future LP’s listening, Victor just asked if carry on The Pitch Fund, would be a revenue stream for The Pitch, Inc. the media company. Meaning, in five to ten years, when the fund starts to make a profit, will some of that profit be shared with The Pitch? Ok, back to me. 

Josh: Um - like, I'd be open to that. So far, people seem either interested in one or the other.

Mark: Yeah.

Josh: They're either like, I want to be part of the fund because really, for me, like, I want, like a predictable return on my investment and I believe in you guys and access to the deal flow is valuable to me. Or they're like, I love the media company, I love The Pitch, I want to help support you guys, so I wanna invest in the media company.

Phil: So you're seeing it as two separate things, so the carry would not go -

Josh: Right now. Yeah. I mean if - if there are a lot of investors who feel strongly about it the other way, we could discuss that, I’m open to it.

Victor: Well, I'm just wondering what the upside on ad revenue is for the podcast.

Josh: There's not a lot of upside on the ad revenue.

Phil: So you think - do you think the ad revenue is the predominant part of revenue?

Josh: I would describe, I mean -

Lisa: Yes.

Josh: At start? Yeah.

Phil: No. Well, thinking out a few years.

Josh: So thinking out a few years, I imagine conservatively we're doing about 40,000 a month in  ad-free subscription revenue. So that's places like  ah - Apple channels, they're a subscription product, so for an ad-free version of our show, it would be $5 a month, for example. That same thing would be available  on all the other platforms, including Spotify as well. And ah -

Phil: So you think 40,000 a month from that.

Josh: Yep.

Phil: And how much from ad revenue?

Josh: About a million.

Lisa: A year.

Josh: About a million a year. In ad revenue.

Lisa: But that's what we're aiming for this year. 

Phil: Okay. I thought we were talking two - two or three years out. 

Josh: It's hard to say.  We don't know -

Lisa: That's a hard prediction to make.

Josh: - how good Vox's sales team is. We know a little bit about what they confidently feel they can sell, and so I can confidently say I think we'll be at a million, at least, um, in the next few years. 

Phil: And they'll - you said that they'll have access to the historical library?

Lisa: Yes.

Josh: Yeah.

Victor: Hmm. And what's the big vision?

The big vision… is coming up, after the break.

[break]

Welcome back to The Pitch. Victor just asked what the big vision is for our show, but before you hear my attempt at a response, I need to tell you about Stonks. Yes, you heard that correctly. S-t-o-n-k-s. Stonks. But I’m not actually talking about the meme. Stonks also a startup. It’s a website where you can watch demo day pitches happen LIVE, and then choose to invest. Right there on the website, you can wire the funds. Sounds like a cool idea right? Ok, back to the pitch for the pitch.

Victor: And what's the big vision?

Josh:  So the big vision is we're a media company that helps create the infrastructure for listeners to invest in companies.  There's a million different ways that that can play out, right? Right now, it's just that information. They're hearing it, they can now go pitch an investor that much more confidently. Down the line - you guys have heard of Stonks, right? So Stonks - what are you laughing about?

Lisa: And he laughs. He laughs. 

Victor: I don't have - well, like, I would see sometimes a - well, a serious venture investor doesn't think that that is necessarily always the most responsible or good fiduciary or - I don't know what even the SEC will think long term of this type thing.

Mark: None of us would ever do a deal like that.

Victor: I get invites on my calendar from them -

Mark: Yeah, somehow they just, they spam you.

Victor: - and it just appears and I'm like -

Phil: I never opted into that.

Victor: So I don't think, for a VC, I think that's a bad comp.

Josh: So we wanna do something a little bit different from them. So what I hear the problem is  other than just the fact that real investors hate them apparently, um, is that a lot of the deals, or a lot of the investment that they get at demo day doesn't actually follow through. I want to say it's something like 10% actually ends up in the bank. So there's just a huge disconnect. And I've talked with a few people about this, mainly Elizabeth Yin, I just think she's super smart, so I'm gonna go with her opinion, which is that -

Victor: She is super smart.

Mark: Yes. Yeah.

Josh: So her thought is that the pitches are too short. Like when you hear on demo day, when somebody just goes through the slides - 

Mark: Right.

Josh: - that's a good opener. Like that's a good, ah, this is interesting. But like, you're gonna close the deal and get the confidence to actually wire the money in those follow-up meetings. And so the problem, I think, with Stonks, and maybe there's more than this, but I think just fundamentally it's that the pitch process itself, the pitch deck and the demo day process, is not set up well for wiring the funds at the end of the presentation. Do you know what is set up well for wiring the funds at the end of the presentation?

Mark: The podcast.

Josh: The Pitch podcast.

Mark: How'd you know...

Josh: Because you have a team of experts who are listening in, vetting the companies, providing that expertise that you can't necessarily have just listening to a one way conversation from a founder telling you about their business. So you get that comfortability that you need, potentially if you're, you know, interested in investing, you can get that confidence to actually wire the funds. 

Mark:  Because you're getting people in real time, you're allowing others to participate and be a part of that journey and then they can, I see your point, they can then make the decision for themselves. 

Josh: Yeah. I mean, what we want to build essentially is the - the layer that allows listeners to listen to the podcast and click a link in the show description that takes them immediately to something that handles that infrastructure that would allow them to invest.

Mark: Yes. That's cool.

Josh: Down the line, we'd also like that link to take them to a podcast player where they can then listen to The Pitch and invest without even clicking through to the link.

Mark: Wow.

Josh: And then  other shows that have longform audio and, you know, feature companies and want to do either equity crowdfunding or, you know, 506c type investments in companies can use that same infrastructure for their shows. Because I mean if it works for our show, longform, introducing experts, like, it should work for others, other media brands that have influence.

Victor: So would you - would you still be using, like, the AngelList or whatever backend? Or do you hope to build your own?

Josh: I think  I would like to partner with someone first. Prove it out, like - I wanna just be able to give people a link on an episode of our show, I mean, we have so many people list - like if we can just get the infrastructure to set up that page, where they could decide to invest, we can test this out without having to develop the platform ourselves.  

Victor:  The other question in my mind is when you go from being this pure discovery and curiosity and kind of part entertainment, part serious investing, to then trying to drive - if your revenue model is more based on having compelling things to invest in, it may shift how - who you'd bring on, it may shift - like you have to curate a lot more for like these investors might actually invest in these types of companies. Like, it does, I feel like it might even push, you know, like you have an ad and then you're like, and make sure to, like be excited to invest in this company. Like, you might push the investing side. That might get on, like, you have to have a lot of regulations on that, you know.

Josh: Yeah.

Victor: Cos right now you can be like, this isn't investment advice. And then basically eventually this is investment advice, you know. So I just think there's probably a lot of - like it's gonna, it's gonna probably tilt the flavor of the show.

Josh: Yeah. That's a - I mean,  that's the very first thing that was on our minds, is how do we not ruin the credibility of the show and the relationship we have with our audience? We are doing a couple things in how we structure things behind the scenes to try to help. I mean, one of them is, if we're investing through the fund, for example, we're not investing until after they're brought in front of the show and terms are negotiated with you guys. And there's a lot of reasons why that works actually better for the fund. It allows us to see the relationships, see how these founders handle pressure.   

Josh: And it’s like a delay tactic that allows us to get in the same round and not make a decision right away while we watch the founder. Anyway, but I think, going back to the show, it allows us to just be a little bit more independent throughout so much of the process. But then also, if you listen to me, and you understand our sensibilities on the show, I don't like to push - push anything. Like, I am here to be as neutral as possible and even though I guess our incentives could change, I'm just so passionate about this audience and what we're doing and I'm more - I'm more passionate about - we're more passionate about it than we've ever been, because of what we had to go through the past years. And so I think everything comes back to our core vision, which is enabling - actually, what is our core vision? 

[Lisa laughs]

Josh: It's empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs. And I think connecting capital to those entrepreneurs and helping that connection happen in more seamless ways and more standardized ways where there are less pitfalls is -  that all aligns in that mission. And so I, you know, I wish I could say anything other than just trust me. But umm

Lisa: Yeah.

Josh: - I think listeners of our show will hear that and say, yeah, I - I do trust that you're not going to screw it up.

Mark: mmhmm

Phil: Look, I've been a part of this show for a long time and I'm passionate about it. I'm a big believer in it and especially a big believer in the two of you.  And I feel like over the last  couple of years, Josh, you and I talking and I feel like I've hopefully helped you think about other revenue channels. And you know I feel like I'm hearing you echo back some of the things that I've shared with you, some of the ideas.

Josh: Absolutely.

Phil: And so, I'm happy to hear that, and I think that's so smart. Because I don't think that relying on ad sales exclusively  is a good idea. And what worries me - I didn't get a great sense of the numbers from you, but it still seems that you're thinking a couple years out that ad sales will still be the majority of the revenue,  which  is a concern for me.  And um, you know, I don't know. It feels - this is so hard for me. You know. Frankly. 

Lisa: Phil!

Phil: I just feel like, um, by investing, it feels almost like a conflict of interest for me, that - that I'm gonna - that hopefully if I'm still on the show, even though I don't invest, that - that I'll feel - that I would feel pressured or I would have some pressure on me that I don't feel now in terms of having to invest or should I invest, or if I don't it's not going to be good for the show or the fund or whatever, it's bad signaling. You know? I want to be free of that.  So I'm gonna pass on investing.  A company that's predominantly based on ad revenue is just not where I'm looking to invest in.

Josh: Yeah.

Phil: But you know, that doesn't change how I feel about you guys and the show.

Lisa: Thanks Phil.

Phil: You know it doesn't.

Josh: Yeah.

Phil: I hope you know that.

Josh: And I really wouldn't want you to invest if it would cause you to feel conflicted.

Victor: So I can be a little more blunt because I just met you guys today.

[laughter]

Josh: Oh yeah. Let's go. Bring it on.

Victor: And I don't - I have nothing riding on getting invited back again so…  So you've got a, you know, there's two sides to the business. As a venture capitalist, I don't really get excited about the potential for the more ad and subscription based revenue streams, because I just haven't seen a little of comps that have done really well.

Josh: Yeah.

Victor: As far as like unicorn potential, which is like really we're swinging for those.

Lisa: Okay. 

Victor: So the real opportunity, which is bigger, is something around the investing side.

Josh: Yeah.

Victor: It looks a little bit like, you know, almost like   an emerging fund manager sort of set up,  so it's like it's personally interesting, but I - there's even restrictions on how, like the GPs of the funds can invest in this. So there's just a handful of things I'm like, we're gonna be out, but I didn't - I'm like hearing your whole story today and seeing it live, it has been inspirational. I'm not surprised you let out a few tears because I'm like, this is like your baby and the whole story with buying it back, bringing it back from the pandemic, too, and starting it again, like - and then hearing about these people being funded today and in the past and being inspired to be VCs and founders, I'm like, like, this is more than I - that's why I'm like, don't ruin it with you know, whoring yourself out to raise money for companies.

Lisa: Yeah. No.

Phil: Thank you for saying it like that.

Lisa: We won't whore ourselves out.

Victor: Yeah. That's what I'm saying, like, it's so pure and beautiful right now.

Josh: Yeah.

Lisa: Thank you, Victor. And that means a lot that you can see that in just one day of being here and with us. Like, that's really encouraging because -

Josh: And there are other ways we can still work together on the show and on the fund as well

Mark: You're gonna invite him back?

Victor: No, I'm not. I'm not invited back.

Mark: I'm just kidding!

Josh: This was your test.

[laughter]

Phil: You're dead to them.

Mark: I get the - I get the last say of the day. Oh man, that's like a lot of pressure. So this has been such a fun - I - I've listened to it before. I've heard your voice an awful lot so -

Phil: Sorry.

Mark: No, you're exactly who I thought you were gonna be.

[laughter]

Mark: In the best ways, Phil! In the best ways.

Lisa: What does that mean?

Phil: Oh okay. I thought I disappointed you.

Josh: Well, wait, so for listeners, you have to tell the story. They're not gonna have any idea what you're talking about.

Mark: What story? That I was here?

Josh: We just met yesterday on Twitter.

Mark: Oh yeah, okay, for the listeners. So I - I really like the show. It's - I launched my fund, quit my job three years ago to launch my fund, launched it 18 months ago, and listening to The Pitch was a part of that process for me.

Phil: Wow, that's amazing.

Victor: Wow!

Mark: It is amazing. And just like learning and observing and it's been huge. And so I hired an analyst and the first thing I told her to do was to listen to The Pitch -

Josh: No way.

Mark: - so shout out to Christina. And so I had listened to Josh's sort of like five minute like "we're back" thing, I don't know, a few months ago. You shared your email. I meant to email you but I was on the road and I forgot. And then, on Wednesday Mac Conwell posted a picture, I was like, oh my gosh, there's Josh, there's the whole crew. So I sent you a message on Twitter and then yesterday morning or yesterday afternoon you messaged me back and all I saw on the message line on Twitter was like, Mark, "call me at here's my number," and I really thought he was spamming me. Right? Like, who gives out their number on Twitter?

Phil: He does that. He spams people.

Mark: I was like, this guy's gonna try to steal my social security number. But I ah -

Phil: The day is still young..

Mark: I know.

Josh: And truth be told, we had an investor back out at the last minute yesterday afternoon.

Mark: So Josh was hoping I could fill in. 

Phil: And you did.

Mark: So I cleared some things and here I am. And it's been - I echo your comments, Victor, this is - this is a special thing here. We had just some amazing conversation over lunch with the two of you as well. I loved hearing those stories and just your vision for this whole thing. It's not a fit for our fund. Just from a media company perspective, ad revenue - so it's a pass from the fund. But I would like to invest personally..

Josh: Oh that would be amazing!

Lisa: Thank you.

Mark: And I - really - you're gonna try to pin me down on a number. I'm not gonna give you a number today. But I really do want to be a part of this and, you know, making an investment personally, and it's - it's gonna be a very small number. But if you'd have me, like, I believe in what you're doing.

Lisa: Thank you.

Mark: I believe in the two of you. And  I think stories matter. I think the story you have here matters and more people will rally around that. So I'd love to support it how I can and I'd love to sort that out.

Josh: That's amazing.

Lisa: Now I'm crying.

Victor: Oh my gosh. 

Mark: There we go. 

Josh: Well, thank you all for your time and for being, not just for this pitch -

Phil: It was great meeting you.

[laughter]

Josh: It was great meeting you all.

Mark: This was really fun. Thanks for a good day, guys.

Josh: Absolutely.

Lisa: Yeah. Thank you.

Josh: Oh, do we do the post-pitch chatter -

Mark: Aaaand cut. Yeah. There we go.

After securing five figures – whatever that means – Josh and Lisa walked out of the room. And the investors shared their true feelings… just kidding. Normally we would do that on our show, it’s a listener favorite, but since we were running so far behind. We all went back in the control room, took a shot of Jillian’s tequila, said our goodbyes and everyone headed back home.

A few weeks later, we followed up with Mark Phillips, and sure enough, just last week he followed through and invested a $5k personal check in our media company. And Neal Sales Griffin - who promised 5 figures during the pitch - actually followed up with another offer -

Neal: I have no idea your openness to this, but  how would 120k sound? 

Lisa: What?!

Neal: But it would be through Techstars.

Josh: Yeah, I mean, Techstars Chicago, right?

Neal: Yeah! It’s just a thought. I was like, wait, is more money better or not? 

Lisa: You’re a good salesman, Neal 

Josh: I like it.

Neal: You like it, I love it.

We’re still trying to decide if we want to do it or not - we literally just had the call yesterday. But if we do, that would bring our funding total as of today to 285k.

Which is great. But, we’ve still got a long way to go before we complete our $500k fundraise.

I do think it’s really interesting that every one of our investments so far, have been personal investments from VC’s, not an investment out of their fund. And honestly that’s what we need. Angel investors who actually like media companies, who aren’t afraid of ad driven businesses. We need to find the investors who see opportunity in The Pitch, Inc. the way Lisa and I see it. Not the other way around. Hey, what do ya know? We do in fact know a few things about fundraising.

Okay, here’s our reminder that no offer to invest in The Pitch, Inc. is being made to or solicited from the listening audience on our show. But there is however an offer being made for listeners to invest in The Pitch Fund. Regulations have changed over the past few years, there’s now something called a 506(c) classification that allows us to publicly raise a fund from accredited investors.

So I’m excited to invite you, the listeners of The Pitch to partner with us by becoming LP’s in The Pitch Fund! For more info, and to apply to be an LP. Just go to thepitch.fund and fill out the form. That’s thepitch.fund 

You can also get in touch with me by email at josh at thepitch.show

 

Hey you guys, it’s so good to be back. After I got over my initial fear of pitching on my own show, it has been pure joy for me to make this episode. Seriously! So much fun. I hope you had as much fun listening to it as I did making it. But that’s highly unlikely. 

 

The Pitch is made by me, Josh Muccio, Lisa Muccio, Enoch Kim and we’re very excited to welcome Anna Ladd to the team. Say hello Anna.

Anna Ladd: Hello, credits of The Pitch.

Music in this episode is by Our Many Stars, Boxwood Orchestra, Imagined Nostalgia, Graham Barton, and The Muse Maker. And our credits music is by the one and only Breakmaster Cylinder.

The Pitch is coming back, our next season launches in February, don’t miss it. Shout it from the rooftops, use telegraph wires, print out posters, put them up all over town. Tell your friends, Steal their phones, and subscribe them, wherever you get your podcasts. Find us on social medias @thepitchshow - bye for now.

Phil NadelProfile Photo

Phil Nadel

Investor on The Pitch

Phil Nadel is the Founder and Managing Director of Forefront Venture Partners, one of the largest syndicates on AngelList. He has started and sold several companies and has invested in more than 200 startups with several exits.

Jillian ManusProfile Photo

Jillian Manus

Investor on The Pitch

Jillian Manus is Managing Partner of an early-stage Silicon Valley venture fund, Structure Capital. Branded “Architects of the Zero Waste Economy," they invest in underutilized assets and excess capacity. She was named one of the top 25 early-stage Female Investors by Business Insider in 2021. Jillian serves on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, these include: Stanford University School of Medicine Board of Fellows, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center Board of Directors, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Mark PhillipsProfile Photo

Mark Phillips

Investor on The Pitch

Mark Phillips is the founder and managing partner of 11 Tribes Ventures. Prior to that, Mark was a strategy consultant focused on M&A between corporations and growth stage startups. He actively supported clients throughout the due-diligence and post-merger integration processes on deals totaling more than $750M.

Victor GutweinProfile Photo

Victor Gutwein

Investor on The Pitch

Victor is the founder and managing partner of M25, the most active venture firm in the Midwest. He grew up in rural Indiana before moving to Chicago to study economics at the University of Chicago. Victor built a vending machine business and a scooter company, before cofounding UChicago’s first student-run venture fund. A Kauffman Fellow (Class 22) and former leader in Hyde Park Angels, Victor founded M25 at age 23 in 2015 and quickly grew it to become the go-to preseed/seed VC firm in the Midwest.

Neal Sáles-GriffinProfile Photo

Neal Sáles-Griffin

Investor on The Pitch

Neal Sáles-Griffin is an entrepreneur, teacher, and nonprofit leader. He co-founded the first beginner-focused in-person coding bootcamp, and ran for mayor of Chicago in 2019. He's currently the Managing Director of the Techstars Chicago accelerator as well as the Techstars Rising Stars fund, and is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering where he teaches entrepreneurship.