There are plenty of websites that offer quality information and useful information to entrepreneurs, including companies such as Inc.com, Venture Beat , TechCrunch, and many others together with business publications like Bloomberg BusinessWeek that we find to be useful. We also find the Lean Startup methodology to be rather effective at an early stage of a startup, and Ken Blanchard’s advice on customer service to be reliable and enlightened advice on engaging better with customers. Nancy Duarte’s resources on giving presentations has been invaluable in a lot of our former and current ventures together with the TedX presentation book .
Something that demonstrates the business idea clearly and succinctly, what any existing MVP product does and future product design, what are its unique selling points – what makes it different, why is it valuable, who is your team and background and why are you so awesome, who are the competitors in the space, how big is the addressable market and the underlying assumptions, any existing customers and ideally some references or testimonials, what are your financial forecasts, what is your sales pipeline, what are you raising and at what expected valuation and what are you going to use it for.
The resulting pitch deck is commonly a 10-20 slide PowerPoint or sometimes a plain Word document, but as long as it works, we don’t care about the precise format. We need that you take the time to structure the meeting beyond just your voice. Keep in mind we get a lot of pitches – no 50 page documents please…
Give your presentation slowly and clearly. Remember that it’s a dialogue, not a monologue – we may send you signals that we’d like to ask questions. Expect lots of questions throughout, so have enough material for 30 minutes of your talking so we have 30 minutes of our questioning.
If you bring team members along, bring them for a reason – let them present relevant material, or at least answer relevant questions.
Remember it’s just a dialogue between two parties who want to find a way to work with each other and help each other achieve a common goal.
Meet us at an early stage, before you need investment, but once you have an MVP or alpha product that you are testing and a pretty clear idea of what your business model will be like. We like to meet you early so we can track your actual progress against what you promise you will achieve. This makes our decision making better and faster when the time comes for you to raise money from us.
It’s also very useful to practice your pitch with your existing investors before coming to us. They know the business well, are likely to be investors in many other start-ups and so will know what we as a venture fund will want to hear. Practice makes perfect!