How Lunchclub landed a preemptive term sheet from Lightspeed

In less than seven days, Lunchclub co-founder Vlad Novakovski had a sizable term sheet in hand from Lightspeed Ventures, despite his startup not looking to raise at the time. How did that happen? A sticky product experience with the customer feedback and growth to back it up made the startup an investment opportunity Lightspeed’s Nicole Quinn just couldn’t pass up.

A week ago, Novakovski and Quinn joined us on TechCrunch Live to give a breakdown of Lunchclub’s Series A deck and the details on how they connected toward the beginning of the pandemic. Lunchclub is an AI-driven networking tool virtually connecting professionals across multiple industries and levels.

TechCrunch Live, formerly known as Extra Crunch Live, takes place every Wednesday at noon PDT/3 p.m. EDT. Each week, audiences get to hear the backstory, best practices and should-haves from founders and the investors who led their round. In the second half, founders in the audience get to live-pitch directly to the guests.

Take a look at some key learnings from our chat with Vlad and Nicole below, and check out the full recording of the episode with the live pitch-off.

A well placed intro goes a long way

The impact of your early-stage investors can go a long way. Nicole Quinn discovered Lunchclub through one of the company’s initial investors in the early months of the pandemic in 2020.

“I received an email from an angel investor in Lunchclub, Greg Arrese, saying, ‘Lunchclub just started doing fireside chats,” Nicole recalled. “These fireside chats have really found product-market fit. I mean, we just launched them and they’ve got thousands of people joining them.’”

Initially connecting with Vlad to participate in a fireside chat and learn more about the company on Wednesday, conversations quickly evolved resulting in a term sheet on Monday, less than a week after meeting.

Introductions to investors from other founders are often touted as the best way to get in front of a VC. In Vlad’s case, it was the investor who made a difference.

“I think as a founder … that speaks to [the] kind of value having a strong … angel investor network when you do your seed or your pre-seed,” Vlad added.

Consumer feedback is everything

Founders diligently build products to solve a problem but the true test is with the customers themselves. Novakovski’s Series A deck had customer feedback in the form of social media screenshots but had limited data and case studies — a change he wished he had made before.

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