This presentation was built as a synthesis of loads of research. Its ingredients include: - Dave McClure&#x2019;s &#x201C;Startup Viagra&#x201D; presentation (http://bit.ly/cHiYco) - Mint.com&#x2019;s &#x201C;Pre-launch Pitch Deck&#x201D; (http://bit.ly/apUesg) - A successful Montreal company&#x2019;s recent slide deck for their Series B round - A 90-minute conversation with a prominent NY-based VC, specifically about this presentation
If you&#x2019;ve got any questions, comments, or if you need to send an email out due to a nervous tic, drop me a line: aidan [at] youphonics [dot] com
Before you start your pitch, you should go in knowing a few things about the firm: - What are their recent investments? - How recently have they invested at the stage of company you&#x2019;re at? - How do you fit into their investment strategy? - Do you use any of their investments? - Which investments has your contact led? - What position/place in the hierarchy does your contact hold? - Does recent news/information about the firm support their stated strategy?
I&#x2019;m sure you can think of at least a few more things to research. And, for anything you can&#x2019;t find, figure out a way to tactfully ask such a question before you move onto the next slide.
My team was composed of myself, bnotions (http://bnotions.ca) and Jet Cooper (http://jetcooper.com). They&#x2019;re all awesome.
Who&#x2019;s on your team? Full-time individuals count. So do contracting firms (especially if you&#x2019;re planning on maintaining a relationship). If you&#x2019;ve got any name-brand advisors, throw them in here, too!
Specifically, what people are looking for is a little bit of a background into who you are -- especially if you&#x2019;re in the Angel stage. Talk about your education, your current roles, notable (and relevant) past experience, and something fun.
Your two goals for this slide: - Condense each person&#x2019;s (or firm&#x2019;s) entire &#x201C;resume&#x201D; into three, maybe four short bullet points. - Establish a rapport with your VC: maybe they studied a similar subject in college, or they worked the same job as your technical lead fresh out of school!
Start the story of your startup on a note that speaks to VCs: a market need with real monetary value.
What problem exists today? How come it&#x2019;s a problem?
Some words that will get the gears moving are &#x201C;inefficient,&#x201D; &#x201C;broken,&#x201D; and &#x201C;fragmented.&#x201D; I used two of the above in the real pitch. Regardless, use words that simplify without losing the core meaning.
Also, please note that I&#x2019;m using quite a few goofy images, or at least not &#x201C;professional&#x201D;-looking ones. Using them worked fine in my meetings. But it all depends on your product, your personality, and your VC. Do your research, and stay within your comfort zone.
Also: draw a diagram. Don&#x2019;t just use boxes, or a single piece of clip-art. Have the visuals tell the story visually, so your VC will follow along as you tell the story.
Statue of liberty image courtesy of &#x201C;Mark Heard&#x201D; (Flickr) Police badge image courtesy of &#x201C;scoutnurse&#x201D; (Flickr) Landfill image courtesy of &#x201C;D&#x2019;Arcy Norman&#x201D; (Flickr) Broadway and Columbus image courtesy of &#x201C;heathbrandon&#x201D; (Flickr)
It&#x2019;s your brilliant solution! Hoorah!
Same as before: use trigger words to get the gears moving, both on the screen and in your script. Show the story while you tell it.
Bonus points if you can come up with a real, actually descriptive comparison: &#x201C;Craigslist for one-legged farmers&#x201D; or &#x201C;LinkedIn for superheroes&#x201D; -- we&#x2019;re going along with the &#x201C;LinkedIn for superheroes&#x201D; example for the rest of the presentation.
EXTRA bonus points if you can integrate the comparison into your visuals without coming off as cheesy. (See Slide 7)
Lego Batman image courtesy of &#x201C;crises_crs&#x201D; (Flickr)
Here&#x2019;s where it might get tricky: do everything you can to have Solution 1 and Problem 2 flow into each other.
Since we&#x2019;re building a LinkedIn for superheroes, perhaps this is the flow: - Problem 1: cities throw away millions/year for ineffecient public security - Solution 1: help cities contract their own superheroes! - Segue: how do we find and contact these superheroes? - Problem 2: superheroes can&#x2019;t efficiently update their friends with their whereabouts/health - Solution 2: LinkedIn for superheroes!
See how that was done? That&#x2019;s your ideal scenario.
It can also work to have secondary problems. Particularly if there&#x2019;s a solution to Problem 1 that doesn&#x2019;t take Problem 2 into account, and vice-versa. Bridging the gap could be a powerful opportunity.
Superman image courtesy of &#x201C;Dunechaser&#x201D; (Flickr)
And here&#x2019;s Solution 2. Ultimately, it&#x2019;s got the same notes as Solution 1: - Be brief - Use pictures - Comparisons are extremely useful
I&#x2019;ve seen some people go on to a third problem. You can if you&#x2019;d like. Don&#x2019;t if it&#x2019;s not absolutely necessary.
See? Incorporating the comparison visually adds some oomph!
Yes. This was the actual slide I used.
Here&#x2019;s where you bust out your sweet demo and/or screenshots (mockups can work, too).
Don&#x2019;t go overboard with your demo, though. Prashant Shah once wrote on Tim Ferriss&#x2019; blog (http://bit.ly/cvb2Gq) that what&#x2019;s important is why customers will engage with -- and ultimately spend money on -- your product. Don&#x2019;t assume that investors will care about its bells and whistles.
Who are you serving? (Hint: who&#x2019;s using your product?)
In our case, we&#x2019;ve got city officials, superheroes, and Justice Leagues (who want private networks for just their supers).
How big are these groups? If we&#x2019;re helping a market (or transaction), how much money is exchanged each year?
Time to break down exactly how you make your money. Who&#x2019;s paying what? What are they paying for? And how do you get them to pay?
Tough questions to answer without too many words, so make it super-easy to visually navigate.
Who are your competitors? And how are you better than them in all of your core hypotheses?
In every deck I&#x2019;ve seen, there&#x2019;s always one or two features that your company doesn&#x2019;t have. I could venture a thousand guesses as to why that is, but sometimes a lack of a feature is a feature in and of itself. Or shows you where to start focusing next...
Again, this could lend to thousands of words. Keep it simple, keep it visual. Your VC will pick out what they want to see from the above: the features they care about are easily scanned and compared.
They&#x2019;ll find out everything in due diligence later, anyway. So be open and honest about your competition!
How are you going to get to market? What are the distinct steps leading you from here (Point A) to the finish line (Point B)?
When do you plan on getting through these steps? And how do you plan on doing it?
As usual on these bullet slides, aim for 2-3 categories, and 2-3 bullets each. It&#x2019;s not a category if it only has one bullet. And don&#x2019;t go over 4 -- better to split the info then.
And if you&#x2019;re still pre-launch, this is HUGE. Get ready to answer some tough questions about defensibility, soundness of your plans, existing evidence, etc. Try to refer back to your story!
Where have you already made progress? Do you have a platform built? Do you have superheroes&#x2019; testimonials? Do you have a bunch of superheroes lined up already? Has the Mayor of New York given you a letter of intent?
Macbooks image courtesy of &#x201C;maury.mccown&#x201D; (Flickr)
Again, yes, I actually used this slide. It relates to the financial model template you can find at http://aidannulman.com/2010-fmodel-template .
Everybody&#x2019;s seen a hockey stick graph before. And there&#x2019;s WAY too much information for you to go over that you&#x2019;re definitely going to skip over the one or two things this specific VC will find important.
So flip the table. Give them control. Open your financial model and let them plug in their own variables. Let them see when you hit 10,000 users, if you&#x2019;d like. Or when your ARPU surpasses your cost per user.
Of course, this means that: 1) You need to have it pre-populated with realistic numbers. (What&#x2019;s realistic? Research it! Preferably with your product, if it&#x2019;s launched or if there&#x2019;s a landing page.) 2) You&#x2019;ll be asked some tough questions: &#x201C;What will you do if you&#x2019;ve got a .5% free-to-pay conversion, only 2% viral growth, and a $3 CPC with a 4% signup rate?&#x201D; Get ready to play defense. Playing well will let you SHINE!
(And playing well involves going back to your story. And acquisition strategy.)
Finally, please note: this isn&#x2019;t to show that your business will make millions of dollars (though that&#x2019;s useful too). What&#x2019;s worthwhile is showing that the business that will make millions of dollars is there if you can push the numbers to the right values. By understanding which variables are the most important to push (and in which direction), you&#x2019;ll be able to prioritize your actions and decisions. So, if you take the same (risky) route I did: KNOW YOUR SHIT.
Finally, what are you looking for? And what, specifically, are you going to spend the money on?
You only get one chance to ask. Make it explicit. Bring it up so you can do the talking in the room, not just in your Executive Summary.
Personnel image courtesy of Office Space (film) Web image courtesy of &#x201C;photofarmer&#x201D; (Flickr) Credit cards image courtesy of &#x201C;Andres Rueda&#x201D; (Flickr)
Close your presentation. Say goodbye politely. Make a joke, if you&#x2019;re feeling witty!
But whatever you do, don&#x2019;t forget to go over your main points once more:
There&#x2019;s an inefficient market that you have an intuitive tool for. You stand to affect X people in a market Y big. And you&#x2019;re the guy/gal to do it because of Z.
Good luck, and happy hunting!
And, as I said before: if you&#x2019;ve got any questions, comments, or if you need to send an email out due to a nervous tic, drop me a line: aidan [at] youphonics [dot] com
Pitch Deck Template
Presented to: NAME, COMPANY
Contact: Aidan Nulman
Aidan Nulman bnotions Jet Cooper
Business Generalist Development Team Design Team
• University of • Stuff they do • Stuff they do
Toronto (Psych) • Clients of theirs • Clients of theirs
• 17 years industry • Their location • Their location
experience • Other? • Other?
• Loves Darkwing
New York City spends over
$80,000,000/year on inefﬁcient
HeroLink pairs superheroes with
cities for cheaper and efﬁcient
Superheroes can’t easily navigate
their professional circles
Solution 2: Collaborative Suite
HeroLink helps superheroes better
track their professional
Solution 2: Collaborative Suite
Like a LinkedIn for superheroes!
HeroLink will serve the
Superheroes Major cities Justice Leagues
(5,000) ($80,000,000 per) (250)
Money comes from
subscriptions and commissions
Hero League City (sub.) City (comm.)
Cost Free! $100/month Based on size 5% of deals
• Private social • Private • Subscription for • Subscription for
networking for workspace for city ofﬁcials to city ofﬁcials to
superheroes your league (up see information see information
Features • Recommendation to 10 members) • Deals limited to • Can do deals
• Health, city $50,000/year with all heroes’
updates price ranges
• Hero conventions • Individual sales to • Direct mail • Direct mail
• Skywriting League leaders • Afﬁliate program • Afﬁliate program
Acquisition • Bus banners
Competition is avoiding this
niche’s unique needs
YouPhonics LinkedIn Facebook
Connect with peers x x x
KNOWN villains x x x x
Protection from ALL
villains x x
League support x x x
Fanbase growth x x
Connect heroes with
cities who need ‘em x
Go to Market
Hero adoption City platform City rollout
(0-9 months) (3-12 months) (12-24 months)
• Skywriting for • Sign on 5 beta • Publicly release
ﬂying heroes cities city platform
• Bus ads for poor • Build platform to through city halls
heroes their specs • Afﬁliate program
• Booth space at • Direct mail to
hero conventions city halls
Progress on multiple fronts
Heroes Cities Technology
• 10 heroes signed • Letter of intent • YouPhonics
on already from Mayor of platform built,
• Includes Batman, New York ready for launch
Darkwing Duck • Montreal, • State of the art
Toronto, and villain detection
Chicago signed system approved
on as beta cities by JLA