Oversubscribed cover

Raising your first round doesn’t have to suck.

Too many founders struggle with fundraising because they don’t understand how the seed fundraising ecosystem works and how to fundraise efficiently and effectively.

To raise a quick, successful round, you need to understand how to navigate the seed fundraising ecosystem effectively, how to use the dynamics of a round to your advantage, and how to act in a way that lines up with how investors make decisions.

This book shows you how.

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This is the complete guide to raising a seed round successfully, written by two founders who have done it themselves. The content is comprehensive, the style is welcoming, and the narrative puts the nervous founder at ease about such a stressful process. Save yourself the trouble of reading a hundred Medium articles on the same topic—just get Oversubscribed.

—Tim Dingman
YC founder

In a world cluttered with fundraising resources and advice, Oversubscribed stands out as the best option—and it’s not even close.”

—Barry Conrad
Director of Entrepreneurship, Venture for America

Just some of what’s included...

  • The good and bad consequences of raising money and if/when you should do it
  • How to stack the chips in your favor so you can get momentum out of the gate
  • The different people who work at VC firms and how to engage each of them productively
  • How to create a sense of urgency for investors (especially a lead) to commit and write checks once you’ve pitched them
  • Angel and VC investor business models and the implications they have for you
  • How to find the angels and VCs who you and your startup are most likely to resonate with
  • How a typical VC investment process works, and how you should build and manage your fundraising funnel

About the Authors

We (Mike Wilner and Max Nussenbaum) met in Detroit in 2013, as early members of the Venture for America fellowship program. By 2014, we had each started our own companies. As first-time founders, we faced the new challenge of fundraising. And at first, we were terrible at it. Which is no surprise—fundraising is really hard!

Although both of our companies eventually failed, we ended up becoming pretty good at early-stage fundraising along the way, raising a combined $4M from all sorts of investors: famous ones like Khosla Ventures, SV Angel, and Y Combinator, but also tons of smaller angels and VCs you’ve probably never heard of.

Over the years, as other founders started coming to us for fundraising advice, we realized that there wasn’t a good source for the kind of guidance we’d have wanted to see when we were raising our companies’ first rounds.

And lots of the best advice out there came from VCs—nothing against VCs, but they’re not exactly neutral parties—or was written for people who already had connections. There wasn’t much out there that felt targeted towards the types of founders we were—the types of founders most first-time founders are.

This book is the guide we wish we’d had when we were first starting out.

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Mike and Max

The authors

Max pitching

Max at his first ever VC pitch

As the founder of an early-stage VC firm, I was both humbled and inspired to read Oversubscribed.

Humbled, because there was so much information in the book I found useful and presented in a clear and fresh way, and inspired because the path they lay out will definitely increase the odds of success for any founder.

In the book they discuss all aspects of fundraising from various perspectives, so a founder will understand in better terms what an angel investor or VC will be looking for or expecting.

The book is primarily geared towards new founders, but VCs, angels, family offices, institutional investors and others in the startup world will benefit from reading it. Oversubscribed will become required reading at Chaac Ventures, and we will be distributing copies to our portfolio founders (both current and prospective).

—Luke Armour
Founder & Managing Partner, Chaac Ventures

Whether you’ve done it zero times or ten, whether it’s seed or a B, in my experience when you go out to raise money for your company things always get a little messy... and I personally always find myself trying to re-read a bunch of blog posts compiled by my favorite vc bloggers (who may not actually have my best interests at heart).

This book is a brisk and simple way to de-clutter your mind and get you focused on running an intelligent process with the right tools. It’s sort of a narrative playbook. I’ve been involved in raising a number of rounds, from pre seed to B, and there are still things that I was reminded of or appreciated anew (like the 26 things to have in your deck, and some of the psychology around the process.

Next time someone asks me how to raise money, I’ll save myself (and then) an hour of stammering explanation, and just send them here.”

—Mike Tarullo
COO, Banza

Oversubscribed is a quick and dense read with actionable advice on how to get your seed round closed methodically and quickly. Mike and Max have done a tremendous job pairing their own lived experience as entrepreneurs with insights and commentary from the various kinds of angel investors, VCs, lenders, and grant organizations entrepreneurs should be talking to. My favorite element of this book is how they explain the incentives of each group of investors and&mdashl;importantly—how they differ, so that entrepreneurs can approach each of them with a tailored pitch. This is far superior to most content you can find online that just helps you build a general one-size-fits-all pitch framework.

Lastly, they’ve dedicated the first chapter to asking you if you’re sure you even want to set down this path at all. Most readers will probably have decided they want to raise a seed round, but for those who aren't completely sure, there’s a good and sober discussion of what it entails to sell a portion of your company to outsiders who have slightly different incentives from you. It's worth everyone reading this first chapter as a primer to understanding fundraising at all.

—Jim Hau

An excellent must-read for new entrepreneurs.

Oversubscribed isn't just about funding sources, but about the psychology behind those sources.

I read the first edition of the book and found it to be an excellent guide for new entrpreneurs looking to get funding. It demystifies the sources of funding by explaining why they may or may not want to invest in your company. I especially like the book's discussion about how an entrpreneur should approach funding sources and how to build scarcity and demand with them.

—Will Herman
Author, angel investor, corporate director, and startup mentor

Max and Mike offer a practical, accessible take on raising money learned from their own experiences in building their businesses. They are straightforward about their businesses, their goals, what they learned, and how it can apply to your own business. Everyone’s advice is tempered by their own experiences, and rather than run from that, Max and Mike are upfront about what their businesses, their goals, their pitch decks, and their experiences, so you can judge how their advice fits with your own goals. I got to see the early stages of their businesses up close—and they reference my materials on financials—so I’m not an impartial observer, but that’s enabled me to see how they processed their experiences, and I enjoyed reading their take on topic that’s been covered widely, but rarely deeply. Instead of getting lost in the abundant advice available on the web about how to raise money, start with this.”

—Taylor Davidson