Pitching SV Angel: The Executive Summary

David Lee

When we receive an email from a referral source introducing us to a founder, we typically ask the founder if they have an executive summary. This may sound tedious and old-school. But it is a quick and easy way for us to decide if a call or meeting is a good use of both parties' time as a next step. It’s also a decent way to evaluate the founder(s). The ability to communicate your idea concisely and articulately is essential. It not only shows a potential to persuade (i.e., sell) but also shows clarity of thought and priorities. Here are some tips on how to create a good executive summary. 

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

The Danger of Crocodile Sales

Mark Suster

Crocodile Salesmen are people who are always talking.  They’re pitching to you.  They don’t take the time to realize what your true motivations are because they’re too busy telling you what they THINK you want to hear. Trust me – your chances of selling are much lower if you’re talking rather than actively listening.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

How to Not Suck at a Group Presentation

Mark Suster

Most people suck at presenting to big groups. It’s a shame because the ability to nail these presentations at key conferences can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to influence journalists, business partners, potential employees, customers and VCs. So I thought I’d write a piece on how to not suck when you give a presentation.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

How to Present at Big Meetings without Going Down a Rat Hole

Mark Suster

Congratulations. You’ve found a VC partner or principal who has invited you to the Monday partners’ meeting. So you arrive at the meeting in the comfort that somebody has championed you to this point.  Every 1:1 meeting you’ve had to date has been collegiate and productive.  What could go wrong?  A lot, actually.  Here are some tips to keep in mind for the big day.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

Are Business Plans Still Necessary?

Mark Suster

When I talk about a business plan I’m not talking about a 40-page Word document outlining your market approach. That died with waterfall software development. I’m not even talking about your 12-page Powerpoint presentation that you need to raise venture capital or to talk with potential biz dev partners. I’m talking about your financial spreadsheet. I will quote a prominent, well-known entrepreneur whom I like and respect and who told me when he was raising money, “I don’t know how much I’m going to charge for my product so why should I create an artificial spreadsheet?” Here’s why.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

The Really Annoying Part of Raising VC

Mark Suster

Blackberry man is probably asking his girlfriend where to meet for dinner. Gotta-meet-me man is thinking about some other deal. Condescending man keeps jumping in with curveball questions so I am not able to get into the flow. Intent man works for the wrong company. MAN … get out of there!!! Don’t you guys want to see the product?

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

Do You Need a Powerpoint Deck for a VC Meeting?

Mark Suster

A large part of my series has been outlining what the typical VC PowerPoint presentation should look like.  Some readers have commented that in today’s world you shouldn’t even need a PowerPoint presentation – in this era you should always just demo your product.  They’re partially right. I also recently wrote a post about a company that came in for a presentation and never even got the slides out or presented a demo.  I called the meeting a 10/10 because we had a great 90-minute discussion in which we had great rapport. So is the PowerPoint deck passé?  Can you just show up without one?  Short answer – ‘no.’  You need to be prepared for the “Triple Play.”

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

A Tale of Two Pitches

Mark Suster

A few weeks ago I sat through two very contrasting presentations and wrote this blog post right afterward.  I’m just getting around to posting now.  Both presenters are anonymized.  I hope that when you’re presenting to a VC this will give you some sense of what might be going on in our minds.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

Pitching the VC Partnership

Chris Dixon

The last step to raising venture capital is normally a 1 hour pitch to the whole partnership during their weekly monday meeting.  This is often described to entrepreneurs as a formality, but at least in my experience, for early stage deals, I would say there is probably a 25% chance of you getting a term sheet afterwards and a 75% chance of you getting rejected (although it will rarely  come in the form of an actual “no”).

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

The Best VC Meetings are Discussions not Sales

Mark Suster

There is one classic mistake that I see across meetings – “the tell & sell”  presentation.  This involves a person who leads a PowerPoint presentation in which the presenter feels more comfortable racing through pre-practiced slides and rattling off charts & bullet points than having a discussion.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

Why You Shouldn’t Keep Your Startup Idea Secret

Chris Dixon

VC’s will either not like your idea, or else like it and possibly want to fund you.  They vastly prefer funding an existing team than taking an idea and building a team.  The one risk is if they have entrepreneurs they are working with in a similar area.  Most VCs have enough integrity to disclose this and let you decide how much detail to go into.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

On NDAs and Confidentiality

Mark Suster

One of the most nerve-racking things for entrepreneurs is when they need to “open the kimono” and show their strategies, products, plans and financial projections to VCs. This is especially true since many entrepreneurs know that the world of VC is very tight-knit and most VC’s know each other. Occasionally I’ll get somebody who asks me to sign an NDA (non disclosure agreement) and I have to tell them, “VC’s don’t sign NDAs.”

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

Who Should Attend Your VC Pitch?

Mark Suster

In this post I want to cover the topic of which members on your team should attend the first VC meeting. Let’s call this the “screening” meeting since it will almost always have at most 1 partner and sometimes won’t even have a partner but instead an associate or principal.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

The Best VC Pitch Tip That I Stole

Mark Suster

For many of the people that I see I try my best to give referrals where I can. If it’s not a good business I really do try hard to protect my friends and colleagues from having to sit through a time-wasting business. In that case the buck has to stop with me to tell the person that I’m not convinced about the company. But for many businesses it might be a matter of: stage too early, stage too late, wrong sector, wrong geography, too competitive to an existing investment, we have past “road kill” in a company that is similar in nature or frankly maybe I’m just working hard on 2 other deals and I don’t have the time or capacity to evaluate the deal. In any those cases I’m happy to give an intro and I usually try my best to offer. But as with most of life, most people don’t ask. You don’t ask, you don’t get. 

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

The First VC Meeting (Post 2 of Many)

Mark Suster

I always liked Guy Kawasaki’s rule he calls 10/20/30. 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font. It’s a very good rule. In reality you can have 12-15 slides (and other 10 in an appendix that you only refer to if asked a “deep dive” question”. In reality you can plan for 40 minutes (but be ready for what you would do if you only had 20. VC’s are notoriously 20 minutes late to meetings and if they’re respectful they’ll give you a full 40 minutes to pitch – but not always). I’m not a stickler for the 30 point font but I would say … be as visual as possible, don’t use many words, don’t use the slides as your “crib notes” and don’t put up slides and then say, “I know this slide is a bit too detailed or hard to read.” The cliched messages apply: 1) less is more and 2) a picture is worth a thousand words.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

Is It Safe to Send My Deck to Investors?

Babak Nivi

A deck can help you get a meeting but it can also get in the hands of the competition. Whether you send a deck depends on who wants the meeting most. If you want the meeting more than they do, provide what they want. If they want the meeting more than you do, provide what you want. Finally, keep your secrets secret.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues

What Should I Send Investors? Part 3: Business Plans, NDAs, and Traction

Babak Nivi

Don’t send long business plans to investors. Don’t ask for NDAs. Don’t share information that must remain confidential. Understand that investors care about traction over everything else.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Funding
Category: Pitch Style, Tools & Issues