Nivi · November 6th, 2007
“PowerPoint plans greatly increase your chance of getting a term sheet, or at least the dignity of a quick no.”
Summary: An introduction and elevator pitch are critical to getting a meeting. You can also provide a “ten-slide” deck that tells a compelling story about your team, product, traction, and plans.
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A PowerPoint plan (“deck”) is less important than an elevator pitch, and an elevator pitch is less important than an introduction. Read What should I send investors? Part 1: Elevator Pitch for tips on crafting an elevator pitch. Many investors will just skim a deck and take a meeting if the introduction and elevator pitch are good.
But you can still send a deck. A deck lets investors learn more about your company. It demonstrates that you’ve thought about the company in detail. It’s an industry norm. And you need one for presentations anyway.
Include a “ten-slide” deck with your elevator pitch.
Read David Cowan’s article and apply these headings and minor changes:
- Summary. Summarize the key, compelling facts of the company. You can steal the content from your elevator pitch.
- Team. Highlight the past accomplishments of the team; if your team has been successful before, investors may believe it will be successful again. Don’t include positions you intend to fill—save that for the Milestones slide. Put yourself last: it seems humble and lets you tell a story about how your career has led to the discovery of the…
- Solution. Include a demo such as a screencast, a link to working software, or pictures. God help you if you have nothing to show.
- Marketing. Include market size estimates here or in the Problem. If you haven’t launched, discuss your plan to acquire users or customers.
- Sales. If you don’t have sales, discuss your business model and prospective customers. Ignore the cost of customer acquisition unless you have some insight into the issue.
- Competition. Describe why users or customers use your product instead of the competition’s product. Describe any competitive advantages that remain after the competition decides to copy you exactly.
- Milestones. Don’t build a detailed financial model if you don’t have past earnings, a significant financial history, or insight into the issue. Instead, include your current status and milestones for the next 1-3 quarters for product, team, marketing, sales, and quarterly and cumulative burn.
- Conclusion. This slide can be inspirational, a larger vision of what the company could do if these current plans are realized, or a rehash of the Summary slide.
- Financing. Dates, amounts, and sources of money raised. How much money are you raising in this round?
These slides tell a story.
This sequence of slides tells a story:
We have a mission and a team that is taking us there. Why? We discovered a large problem and solved it with a product that has this amazing technology inside. We’re going to market and sell it to these customers, with these advantages over our competitors. In particular, we’re working towards these milestones over the next few quarters. In conclusion, this financing is a great investment opportunity.
The product isn’t revealed until the fifth slide of this methodical sequence—that’s annoying. Fortunately, the elevator pitch and Summary slide kill the suspense by summarizing your company and product before an investor jumps into the deck.
Put pictures in the slides and text in the notes.
Keep the slides simple, visual, and minimal, with 30 point or larger font. The slides will look great when you present; see Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic. (We’ll cover presentations in a future article, this article is about the deck you send investors.)
Put talking points, reasoning, and prose in the notes that accompany each slide. Don’t try to cram cogent arguments into bullet points on the slides; see The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint.
Email a PDF that combines each slide and its notes on a single page; slide on top, notes on bottom. Please don’t email a PowerPoint file unless your deck contains critical animations or movies.
You now have a single file for emails and live presentations. An investor can read the slides and notes together and imagine a presentation. And you can present the slides while you refer to the notes.
Finally, try Keynote if you’re on a Mac. It makes beautiful decks and it’s fun to use.
Business plans, NDAs, and Traction.
Read What should I send investors? Part 3 for suggestions on sending business plans, asking for NDAs, and what investors care about most.
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