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I’ve looked at thousands (tens of thousands?) presentations pitching new businesses since the mid 1990′s. The vast majority of them suck. Unfortunately, it’s not Powerpoint’s fault (no – it wouldn’t be better if Freelance has become the standard).
It’s the content creators fault. Edward Tufte – a master of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, thinks Powerpoint is evil and corrupts absolutely. Blogs like Beyond Bullets help reduce the corruption, but given that I’m trying to get a very specific set of information in a short period of time (usually 30 – 60 minutes), more specificity about what I think is “good” is probably helpful.
Several years ago, Chris Wand (one of the guys that works with me at Mobius Venture Capital) put together a list of questions that a pitch to a VC should address. The world would be a better place if all entreprenuers could automagically incorporate this outline into their pitches – at least to me.
Following are the questions to address.
1) WHAT IS YOUR VISION?
- What is your big vision?
- What problem are you solving and for whom?
- Where do you want to be in the future?
2) WHAT IS YOUR MARKET OPPORTUNITY AND HOW BIG IS IT?
- How big is the market opportunity you are pursuing and how fast is it growing?
- How established (or nascent) is the market?
- Do you have a credible claim on being one of the top two or three players in the market?
3) DESCRIBE YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE
- What is your product/service?
- How does it solve your customer’s problem?
- What is unique about your product/service?
4) WHO IS YOUR CUSTOMER?
- Who are your existing customers?
- Who is your target customer?
- What defines an “ideal” customer prospect?
- Who actually writes you the check?
- Use specific customer examples where possible.
5) WHAT IS YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION?
- What is your value proposition to the customer?
- What kind of ROI can your customer expect by using buying your product/service?
- What pain are you eliminating?
- Are you selling vitamins, aspirin or antibiotics? (I.e. a luxury, a nice-to-have, or a need-to-have)
6) HOW ARE YOU SELLING?
- What does the sales process look like and how long is the sales cycle?
- How will you reach the target customer? What does it cost to “acquire” a customer?
- What is your sales, marketing and distribution strategy?
- What is the current sales pipeline?
7) HOW DO YOU ACQUIRE CUSTOMERS?
- What is your cost to acquire a customer?
- How will this acquisition cost change over time and why?
- What is the lifetime value of a customer?
8) WHO IS YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM?
- Who is the management team?
- What is their experience?
- What pieces are missing and what is the plan for filling them?
9) WHAT IS YOUR REVENUE MODEL?
- How do you make money?
- What is your revenue model?
- What is required to become profitable?
10) WHAT STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT ARE YOU AT?
- What is your stage of development? Technology/product? Team? Financial metrics/revenue?
- What has been the progress to date (make reality and future clear)?
- What are your future milestones?
11) WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR FUND RAISING?
- What funds have already been raised?
- How much money are you raising and at what valuation?
- How will the money be spent?
- How long will it last and where will the company “be” on its milestones progress at that time?
- How much additional funding do you anticipate raising & when?
12) WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION?
- Who is your existing & likely competition?
- Who is adjacent to you (in the market) that could enter your market (and compete) or could be a co-opted partner?
- What are their strengths/weaknesses?
- Why are you different?
13) WHAT PARTNERSHIPS DO YOU HAVE?
- Who are your key distribution and technology partners (current & future)?
- How dependent are you on these partners?
14) HOW DO YOU FIT WITH THE PROSPECTIVE INVESTOR?
- How does this fit w/ the investor’s portfolio and expertise?
- What synergies, competition exist with the investor’s existing portfolio?
- What assumptions are key to the success of the business?
- What “gotchas” could change the business overnight? New technologies, new market entrants, change in standards or regulations?
- What are your company’s weak links?