Sunday, April 01, 2007

10 key slides for investor pitch

How To NOT Write A Business Plan

ou might structure the 10 slides as follows:

1. The cover slide should offer complete contact info, and a tagline if you've got it. One of the benefits of a powerpoint plan is that it forces you to perform the critical exercise of describing the business in very few words.

2. A mission statement is a good idea to present, unless it's rather obvious from the tagline (as in Education, Guidance, Diamonds and Fine Jewelry). Select a mission statement that is achievable, but not yet achieved. Bad mission statements:

"To create the world's largest software company." [too broad and unrealistic to practically guide decision-making]

"To develop the world's best technology for defending DNS servers from worm attacks." [er, you said you've already done that, right? Mission accomplished!]

A clear mission statement also includes a clear idea of what the startup will NOT do. Here are some nice ones...

"Healthia will operate America's most widely used comparison shopping portal for consumer driven healthcare, enabling businesses and their employees to choose health plans, ancillary health benefits, and medical services objectively and transparently."

"Prolexic will create and dominate a new network service category that defends web applications from distributed-denial-of-service attacks."

Sometimes the white space on the slide is filled with customer logos or testimonials.

3. Introduce the team. On one slide, highlight the backgrounds of the key members of the team, and any directors or advisors (not too many) who bring something special to the startup. Explain verbally whom you intend to add to the team in the next year. (If that includes a CEO, say so up front, without waiting to be asked.)

4. Without yet getting into your product or service, describe the nature of the problem you address. Emphasize the pain level and the inability of incumbents to satisfy the need.

5. Introduce your product, and the benefits (which should obviously address the market problem you just described).

6. Elaborate on the technology or methodology you have developed to enable your unique approach. If appropriate, mention patent status.

7. Show off early customer or distribution progress: numbers, logos, testimonials.

8. Sales strategy. Show the expected cost of customer acquisition.

9. Competitive landscape. Be sure to anticipate competitive responses (before the VC does), and never deny that you have competitors, no matter how unique you think you are. Really, it's okay to compete. Even against Microsoft (as Flock will prove).

This is also a good slide on which to show market size estimates.

10. Earnings Statement, historical and forecast. For each time period, add headcount and cash balance. It should be clear how you expect the company to perform top line and bottom line three years out, and how much capital will be required now and later. Prepare lots of backup slides to illustrate the assumptions behind these financials.