Since 2001, I’ve helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build content for investor presentations. Based on that experience it’s clear that entrepreneurs are often successful visionaries who struggle to articulate the essence of their business.
I want to share with you some of the common lessons I’ve taught my clients over the years. My clients come from all industries and a variety of backgrounds and they all have difficulty getting out of the weeds of daily business to articulate a compelling investor vision.
In the coming weeks, I will also write about each of the elements of a successful investor presentation, giving you practical tips on how to nail each element. These articles are intended to share many of the key points I make when advising early stage companies looking for funding.
I want to make sure you’re getting as much out of it as possible!
This article will focus on the approach to presenting to investors. A few of the most important aspects of approaching an investor or investor group include:
1. Know what you want: Consider what you want out of the presentation and tailor the content to that. Investors listen to presentations to determine if they want to take the next step. Therefore, a great goal is to have the investors in the audience thinking to themselves: “This is interesting enough to go to due diligence”.
I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs who think they can get a cheque from a presentation. I’m here to tell you that it just doesn’t happen.
2. Know what you’ll say: Given the above, your presentation immediately takes shape. Listeners will only really remember 2-3 points from a presentation. Given that you want to move to due diligence, you should focus on articulating:
a. There’s a big problem
b. You have a unique solution
c. You’re a team that can execute.
3. Know who’s listening: Far too often I hear entrepreneurs say that they can’t find investors who “get it”. The successful entrepreneur engages investors of all backgrounds by keeping in mind simplicity and vision. I’ve yet to encounter a company I can’t “get” in 30 minutes with a little prying to get to the essence. It can be done.
4. Know who’s presenting: In short, have one person give the whole presentation, hand-offs during an investor presentation rarely work. The CEO should almost always be the one to present. Let other key executives who attend the presentation speak during Q&A if necessary.
5. Know your time limit: 16 slides does not equal 10 minutes. It doesn’t get much worse to have taken 90 per cent of your time and have said 40 per cent of what you were supposed to say. You can successfully pitch a start-up in 6-8 slides. I’ll tell you about what should be on those slides in upcoming articles.
You’re off to a great start if you consider each of these points in preparing for your investor presentation. Remember that your main goal is to keep as many people engaged as possible throughout the entire presentation.
So, as you prepare for the presentation, pitching it to your CTO is not the greatest audience test. You should find a consultant or someone else who knows little about your business and see if you can help them understand your story.
Also keep in mind that most angel investor presentations are 10-15 minutes long. Realistically, you have just about that same amount of time to effectively hook an individual or a venture capitalist before they tune out.
The next article will focus on how to get the most out of the title slide of your presentation.
Tim Taylor is the founder of My Pitch Coach (www.mypitchcoach.com)