This is the second part in a multi-part series from Tim Taylor on how to present to investors.
Here Tim tells us how to start that all-important presentation…
The title slide of an investor presentation is often overlooked as a great opportunity to set the stage for the start-up story. The majority of presentations begin with “Hi, my name is John Smith of ABC Co.” and away we go. I understand that presenters are often nervous, particularly at the beginning, but this is one of many opportunities that they will have to shine during their presentations.
I tell my clients that it’s a wonderful opportunity to begin the presentation off with telling the story of why you started the company. The power of beginning with a story is it’s familiar territory and you take immediate control of the audience and the presentation.
There are numerous reasons that entrepreneurs start companies but here are a few that I’ve seen work really well as stories to begin a presentation:
1. I felt the pain: This is the most common reason that entrepreneurs start companies. Often they are in large companies where they worked in a division or a department that either tried unsuccessfully to solve or was blind to a large problem in the market. I recently worked with a very successful marketing executive who started a company to leverage social networks to improve large-company campaign profitability and effectiveness. She knew the pain, she solved the problem.
Engineers commonly feel the pain at their companies when they see the products that they are selling and know that the product doesn’t actually solve the problem most efficiently because they actually experience the same problem in their work.
2. I recognised the opportunity: There’s often a convergence of technology, trend and opportunity. This is particularly true of serial entrepreneurs. When they see a set of circumstances come together in a way that they’ve succeeded before, that’s the time to strike.
3. I have a personal story: These are often the most compelling as long as the story is relevant. I met a CEO who started a company that has a speech-to-speech technology useful in hospitals, the military and elsewhere. He had a great background in this technology and market. But he told me how he moved to the USA when he was 13 and only spoke Farsi. Language had become a personal passion for him in almost Darwinian circumstances and was a big part of the reason he started the company, a great way to start a presentation.
Remember, that this is NOT the time to talk deeply (or at all for that matter) about technological or scientific ins and outs that make you uniquely qualified to start the company. Investor presentations are so much more effective when the audience feels that they can connect to the entrepreneur at some level. It becomes easy when the title slide includes a story that helps them understand why you started your company.
I think it’s critical to remember that starting a company is REALLY hard. A seasoned investor once told me that entrepreneurs must be insane because insanity is defined as trying the same thing, expecting a different result. So telling them why it makes “sense” that you are starting a company helps to explain at some level that insanity that we all love.
Not every entrepreneur has a personal or professional story as to why he or she has started a company. That’s ok, even if you don’t have a story, start energetically by stating:
“Hi, my name is John Smith and I’m excited to be here to tell you about my exciting new investment opportunity ABC Co., a company that solves a big problem in the __________ industry.”
At a minimum the tone is set.
One last suggestion, I recommend putting a text box on the title slide of your presentation that says “Insert Logo Here”. And every time you give a presentation, insert the logo of the investor group or VC that you happen to be talking to. They LOVE to see their own logos!
My next article will focus on what the problem is that you are solving. Knowing the next slide that’s coming helps put the content of the title slide into context. Now that you’ve engaged them with a relevant, compelling story of why you started the company, it’s time to talk, in simple terms, about the problem you solve.
If at any time you have questions for me, please contact me directly.
Tim Taylor is the founder of My Pitch Coach (www.mypitchcoach.com)