The Torturous World of Powerpoint

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?

15) OTHER
– 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?