We had a record number of incredible applications for our 2020 Transparent Collective Startup Showcase event! Since we will be hosting our September event virtually due to COVID-19, we were able to increase the number of startups accepted into the program (we are typically limited by the expense of flights and accommodations for our founders). For those who were not accepted into this program, or who are looking to apply to future programs, we want to be transparent with the way we rate and score applications.

Transparent Collective partners look through every pitch and score each company based on the following five criteria: Team, Market, Product, Traction, and Fit

At the end of every application deadline, the Transparent Collective partners look through every pitch and score each company based on the following five criteria: Team, Market, Product, Traction, and Fit. After we individually score each application, we then meet as a group to discuss and debate any outliers or companies where we had wildly different reactions at either end of the spectrum. We then collate a final list of top companies and go around the table to see if there are any applicants that might not have scored very well, but we personally want to sponsor. Generally, we stick with our scoring system and only rarely make such exceptions.

To score highly on your TC application, be sure to emphasize the following:

  1. Team. Highlight your backgrounds, experiences, and the reasons you and your co-founders are uniquely positioned to solve the problems you all are working on.
  2. Market. Since TC focuses on increasing representation for venture-backed tech companies, highlight how large your total addressable market opportunity is (hopefully in the $B’s) and how much of it you can reasonably capture. For more details on how the VC math works, check out this fantastic presentation by @jyri. One other important note here is that our strongest networks of investors, advisors, and mentors are based in North America. While we are currently focusing on US (and at times CA) companies, we are working to build our connections and create a global TC community.
  3. Product. Show off what you’re building. We typically look for companies with built or launched products. So the more you can highlight the product and how much your users love it, the better. If you are pre-product, show off your vision either as mocks or designs. This helps us understand how your product solves the problems for your users.
  4. Traction. Share the quantitative progress you have thus far made and some general projections of your growth in the future. Again, we typically look for companies that have some revenue or early customers that help to demonstrate product market fit. But if you are pre-revenue, explain the risks for your business and how you plan to mitigate those risks to reach your goals.
  5. TC Fit. Our last scoring criteria ensures that we have selected companies with underrepresented founders who we believe we can help in a significant way. Often, we get applications with deep scientific research or frontier tech that sound amazing, but TC might not be the best fit to help through our Startup Showcase program.

So if your startup didn’t get selected for our Startup Showcase program this time around, keep working on your product and traction, and be sure to apply again for our next session (Q1 2021). We look forward to seeing all of your companies soon!

Transparent Collective helps Black, Latinx, and women founders access the connections & resources needed to succeed.