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Essential Communication Tools for Entrepreneurs


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Speaker: Veronika Litinski, MaRS Advisor
High tech entrepreneurs need 5 essential communication tools:
* the "elevator pitch"
* the executive summary
* the presentation
* the technical white paper
* the business plan
This lecture focuses on how to create them, and how to use them effectively to grow your business from an idea to a funded business plan.

Part of the CIBC Presents Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series. For more information on this event, including video see

Published in: Business
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Essential Communication Tools for Entrepreneurs

  1. 1. Essential Communication Tools for Entrepreneurs Slide 2
  2. 2. The Idea 1:30 -2:30
  3. 3. Essential Communication Tools for Entrepreneurs   The ‘Elevator Pitch’   30 second outline of business concept   Executive Summary   3-5 page overview of your business   White Paper   Layman’s summary of your technology, product(s), the uniqueness and the value   PowerPoint Presentation   ~15 slide outline of your business plan   Business Plan   Detailed description of your business plan: product plan, go-to-market strategy, management team and financials. Slide 4
  4. 4. How do the tools work?   The tools EXPLAIN and ILLUSTRATE:   What is unique about your business?   Who cares?   How will you execute? DIFFERENTIATED SUSTAINABLE VALUE PROPOSITION Slide 3
  5. 5. Selling vs. Planning   Be conscious of the huge difference between communicating your business concept and building your business plan.   The primary purpose of the Toolkit is to communicate the value of your business idea – EXCEPT THE BUSINESS PLAN.   A business plan is an internal planning document seldom shown to anyone outside the company   The other documents are external communication documents used to sell the value of your business idea to outside parties Slide 6
  6. 6. Why do we need these tools? Solicit Communicate investment to partners Communicate Communicate to employees / to customers potential hires Tools Slide 7
  7. 7. Principles for Business Planning and Communication No hype - factual statements. Enthusiasm will be generated FACTUAL by the investor realizing the opportunity on his/her own Business planning is an iterative and adaptive process that DYNAMIC requires constant update and adjustment work A clear, precise structure is a courtesy to those investing VISUALLY their time in reading the proposal COMPELLING The storyline and all the facts presented must fit together CONSISTENT AND and generate a well rounded impression CONCISE Not the quantity of analyses, but the clarity and preciseness CLARITY of the pack are important Those who allocate investment resources rarely are EASE OF technical experts for the technology used in the proposal UNDERSTANDING Slide 8
  8. 8. Myths and Truths Slide 9
  9. 9. Make your message memorable   ENGAGE your audience   Make information meaningful to them   Case studies   Address knowledge gaps   Visuals, charts, graphs   Let them arrive at their own conclusions   Pace your delivery Slide 8
  10. 10. Know your audience   Speak to your audience in language that they understand:   Institutional investor – do not speak ‘techie’, tie everything back to money   Strategic investor – may be more technical; will be interested in your ideas as they impact their business   Strategic Partner – mix of technical and business; understand how a relationship will be mutually profitable to both parties   Angel Investors - access their background; understand their interests   Customer – understand their industry and pain points Slide 11
  11. 11. Case Study Before… Product and Technology A prototype is currently available at which monitors blogs from Blogger (Google’s blog hosting service) which includes approximately 13 million blogs. Our proprietary crawling technology monitors approximately 90% of the blogsphere through livejournal, wordpress, livespaces and… After… Product and Technology Inc. can collect, clean, aggregate and processes vast amounts of text information and extract the actionable insights that these marketers and information services companies seek. Inc.’s platform is uniquely sensitive to changes in individual sentiment. Slide 12
  12. 12. Know your audience   Give your audience the information they are looking for:   Do not assume they want to see the depth of your scientific knowledge   Speak to them with their interests in mind, not your interests in mind   Whenever possible, communicate with numbers and graphics   “the market is huge and growing”, you could say “the total market is $3B and is projected to grow at 12% per annum”   show a graph of the historic and projected market size broken down by segment Slide 13
  13. 13. Case Study Before… Addressable Market Segment Social networking and user-generated content applications have rapidly changed use and perception of online technologies. BLOGs have been increasing at a rate of 100,000 a day and currently range in the order of 80 million… After… Addressable Market Segment The market opportunity for this technology is vast. Annual spending on market research in the US is estimated to grow by approximately 25% going from $8.7B 2007 to $10.9B in 2009… Slide 14
  14. 14. Case Study Before… Competitive Advantage Inc. provides brands a simple tool for real time sentiment monitoring in places like Facebook etc. After… Competitive Advantage Inc.’s competitive advantage is rooted in the expertise of its principals and its proprietary platform technology, benefits include: First fully automated online solution for media analytics. Via simple fully configurable dashboards, users can start monitoring their brand…. Advanced data analytics and language processing. The software utility can efficiently track sentiment Slide 15
  15. 15. Communication tools help you build relationships   Be strategic about what you provide and when you provide it   Not everyone should see your white paper or business plan   Leave some details for later, don’t give away everything in the first meeting   Your documentation should radiate professionalism   Ensure accurate grammar, spelling, diction, illustration, layout, etc. Slide 16
  16. 16. The Pitch 2:40 -4:30
  17. 17. The Elevator Pitch Slide 18
  18. 18. Inc. has developed hand-held devices that are designed to quickly assess a patient’s brain function and potentially identify dysfunction to help medical professionals to prescribe appropriate treatments. Slide 19
  19. 19. The Elevator Pitch   What:   A 30 second overview of your business concept   Why:   To get a follow–on meeting   When:   In a cold call to an investor, customer, potential partner, etc.   Good for networking at trade shows, business functions, etc.   Dos and Don’ts:   Do not spend forever practicing and refining this – should come naturally;   Figure out a few key messages you would like to get across to use as a loose script   Distribute key messages to outward facing employees – standardize message Slide 20
  20. 20. The Executive Summary Slide 21
  21. 21. The Executive Summary   What:   3-5 page summary of your technology, product, sales plan, revenue path and financial requirements   Why:   A ‘teaser’ document meant to generate a request for more information or a meeting   Readers will want to get their head around the concepts quickly   When:   When you have a ‘warm’ intro or an invitation to contact someone   Integral first interaction with an investor   Rides the line between confidential and non-confidential – some degree of trust   Dos and Don’ts:   Has to have the right emphasis given the maturity of the business concept   Keep it current Slide 22
  22. 22. The Whitepaper Slide 23
  23. 23. The Whitepaper   What:   A fairly concise layman’s summary of your technology, product(s), the uniqueness of the technology and products and the value proposition   Why:   Helps investors to understand how a concept or technology works   When:   After investors are curious about details or have bought into the big picture business vision   Dos and Don’ts:   Put the whitepaper on your website   Don’t go so deep as to give away all of your trade secrets/IP – consult your IP professional   Keep it as short as possible and fully explain all acronyms Slide 24
  24. 24. The PowerPoint Slide 25
  25. 25. The PowerPoint   What:   A ~15 slide outline of the key aspects of your business plan   Why:   Provides an overview of the business plan in point form   Allows people to absorb a lot of key information in a short period of time   When:   Usually the second piece of information an investor receives after the executive summary   Investors love these because they can flip through them very fast and get highlights   Dos and Don’ts:   Critical document in the fundraising process – present a sound story; make it look good   Practice speaking to it, preferably in front of friendly people who will ask lots of questions   Use graphics as much as possible Slide 26
  26. 26. The Business Plan Slide 27
  27. 27. The Business Plan   What:   A rigorously prepared and executable description of how you will build your business   Why:   This is your roadmap for how you are going to build your business   Describes roles and responsibilities for building various aspects of the business   When:   When you have assembled enough solid information to write it   Highly proprietary; later stages of diligence   Wait for the investor to to ask for it   Dos and Don’ts:   Often made a condition of financing or a board action item   Re-write with every major change in strategic direction   Avoid the temptation to turn this into a sales tool – preserve its integrity as an execution plan Slide 28
  28. 28. How to build and use your toolkit?   Do not start by building your business plan   You will not have the information you need   You will examine issues out of priority   You will expose lack of understanding   Do not offer to supply a business plan off the bat   Use the PowerPoint Deck as receptacle for all ideas and information that comes to light – easy to manipulate, organize and adapt   Build your executive summary and eventually your business plan based on your PowerPoint deck   Give investors your exec summary and offer to walk them through the PowerPoint slides in person or on the phone Slide 29
  29. 29. Advice from the trenches   Do not overload the documentation   Try to get across a few key messages instead of telling the whole story   Your audience will only absorb the key messages   Templates exist for all of these documents   Don’t re-invent the wheel   MaRS has developed templates based on extensive review of industry best practice materials Slide 30
  30. 30. Evaluation criteria for a new venture Large and Growing 1 Market Opportunity Your business addresses a large, growing and global market. You have a clear understanding of the customer segments and competitive landscape in the target market. Experienced Sustainable Competitive 4 2 Management Team Advantage Your team has people who are leaders You have a protected technology that Key Opportunity in their field. They have a strong will provide sustainable competitive customer focus and specialized advantage for the business and its Requirements knowledge of relevant sub-sectors in customers. You have a product the industry. Ideally, your team should development roadmap that have people with prior experience in a addresses regulatory hurdles and technology start-up. demonstrates your ability to grow Financial Return on your business. 3 Investment You have defined how the company will make money. You have developed financial projections that demonstrate Value Creation based on real-market validation and input from paying customers. Slide 31
  31. 31. Outline   Executive Summary   Company & Opportunity Summary   Product & Technology   Market Size and Growth   Sales and Marketing Plan   Competitive Overview   Operations Plan   Management Team   Financials & Investment Requirements Business Plan Slide 32
  32. 32. Outline   Company Description (1 paragraph)   Company Overview, Management & Vision (2-3 slides)   Need & Existing Solutions (1-2 slides)   Technology, Products and Product Rollout (2-3 slides)   Market Opportunity (1 Slide ,Graphical)   Competitive Overview (1 Slide , Largely Graphical)   Sales Strategy & Channels (2-3 slides)   Partnerships and/or Partnerships strategy ( 1 slide)   Financials & Path to Liquidity (2-3 Slides (Largely Graphical) PowerPoint/Investor Deck Slide 33
  33. 33. Outline   Company Description (1 paragraph)   Basic Need & Company Solution (1 paragraph)   Technology and Product(s) (1 paragraph; diagram)   Value Proposition (couple of bullets)   Market Size and Growth (diagram)   Sales Plan (1 paragraph)   Competitive Advantages (couple of bullets)   Management (detailed bullets)   Revenue Growth Projections (diagram)   Financing Requirements (1 paragraph) Executive Summary Slide 34
  34. 34. Advice from the trenches   Practice, Practice, Practice   Different versions for different people   Management vs. finance vs. technical   Version control   The main idea of all of this is to entice investors/ partners to take a deeper look Slide 35
  35. 35. 5:36-6:29
  36. 36. Veronika Litinski Director, MaRS Discovery District T 416-673-8113 E W