Yup, we did that once. It was a cool, satisfying feeling.
We needed the cash. We got it.
The key? Develop a very simple, compelling, very short slide deck and smooth presentation. Too many recent articles on this are just too complex, too long and drawn out. It’s just not that complicated. It can’t be complicated.
The how? Powerful preparation built upon only a few very basic aspects – and the slides, 5 simple, yet powerfully communicative slides:
- A one liner juxtaposing the need and the overwhelmingly better, proven solution with associated graphics a child could understand.
- The proof – customer and data proven validation of slide one. Have real demos.
- The team – the proven, we’ve done this stuff, we know this stuff team – leadership, staff, board, advisors, customers & suppliers.
- The plan – where we are now, where we need to go, how and why and some alternative scenarios belying an understanding of uncertainty and options.
- The money to get us where we want to go and the basic offer.
You can have other more in depth, informative slides – each still simple – but pull them up during Q&A. Don’t put people to sleep.
It’s about being the crystal clear billboard that gets the VC or Angels off the exit, stopping by your place and buying. You’ve got seconds or less in most cases – on the phone, in an elevator, at a conference or a formal meeting.
It’s about catching their attention. These VCs, angels, other investors all have thousands, not hundreds, of opportunities put before them. It’s not your product in your market, it’s your idea relative to every other market and opportunity they have before them. If they invest in three industries and at multiple stages, you will have a hell of a time. Study your prospects. Study the principal people. Study everything that you may compete with to get their attention. If you can honestly say this should be at the top of their minds, their choices, then make a deck that proves it.
It’s about simplicity. Do not be wordy, do not have word wrap, and do not put up graphics with photo reality or itty-bitty tiny fonts. It’s a billboard. Go for a drive. Fast. What Billboards can you read at 70 mph? Not many. The graphics should be utterly simple, but very attractive. Put a lot of time into this. Great art, great graphics can communicate a message far better than most words and far more quickly.
It’s about real customer feedback – quotes, an order – with real names of big people validating not just your product, but future scale, pricing and value and likely validation to purchase or purchase more. Nothing like a quote, like we had once from a major manufacturer in a $30 sector:
“This will transform our industry, slash costs in half and double our profits while expanding our product offerings in ways we never imagined” SVP, XXX
It’s about a top to bottom, deeply experienced, powerfully capable team. If you can get a gal or guy with better experience to be CEO or president, do it. Pleeeease. Cover the bases – especially operations and product development. Not everyone must be full time or an employee. Partners work great and save a ton of cash in many cases. Get a premier independent board before, not after, you get the cash (we like 7 with 3 independents). Round up great advisors, contracted, from all aspects of your business – customers, suppliers, key regulators or validators. A great example would be where for medical devices getting a former insurance executive in your exact space on your board or advisory board. No code, no money. It’s all about de-risking, it’s all about building confidence in your firm’s ability to handle the growth, the operations, the unanticipated.
It’s about scenario based planning that realizes that you will likely change paths, need options and incorporate major feedback. This is what must be true for scenario A, but if these two possible truths emerge, here’s how we can pivot and the why and the how.
It’s all about the money and the deal and the return. How much, why, when and where. If you’ve done everything else right, the money is simply an enabler of something that’s obviously to your target a great potential return relative to their other choices for that cash.
Lastly – Be passionate, be smooth, be confident, be humble, and be paced. Breath. Smile. Have some fun!
So what are you waiting for? Get crackin’
At Elemence, we’ve looked at over a thousand pitches and done diligence on nearly a hundred in depth. We’ve raised nearly $80 million for our own efforts. For nothing, we’ll review your short pitch deck or one pager and give some basic feedback – yes, for free. For $1000, we’ll take a look at your pitch and give you our basic version of your pitch key, with specific recommendations and changes along with two hours of conference call. After that, we are happy engage you further.