Funding is the lifeblood of startups, and even the most successful bootstrapped startup at some point is likely to seek outside funding. Often, startup CEOs present at pitch events where they have a scant five minutes to effectively tell their stories.
While every startup idea is different, there are a few foundational guidelines that can mean the difference between securing that new funding or not in one investor presentation.
Clearly outline the problem you want to solve.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to articulate the exact market problem a startup is trying to solve. It’s critical to get this right and communicate it in a way that will “stick” with investors in one presentation. One startup had developed a solution that scheduled customer service calls between consumers and organizations with large call centers. Consumers logged into the app, requested a call at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning, for example, and bam, they received a call from the call center. A win-win, the consumer didn’t have to wait on the phone, and the call center had a better handle on their scheduling needs for customer service reps.
However, it was initially unclear exactly what problem the solution solved and how strong the consumer demand would be for such an app. Digging deeper into the startup’s initial market research, it was revealed that the average person will spend 43 days of his or her life on hold. By making the first presentation slide read simply the number “43,” the startup peaked the investors’ curiosity and grabbed their attention.
Make it personal.
Understanding a startup CEO’s motivation to launch a company can greatly contribute to investor interest. One entrepreneur recently launched a company developing a laundry-folding machine. Since about 1% of the world actually likes folding laundry, this was sure to get a lot of media attention anyway. But when the CEO presented to investors, the presentation needed was a “why.” Why would an engineer trained in the Israeli military want to develop this?
It turns out, the CEO and his new wife went on their honeymoon and returned to their small apartment with two enormous bags of laundry. His first thought was that doing laundry was no way to start a new life together … and an idea was born.
Making it personal helped make it successful: the company received an investment, pre-registrations topped 125,000 and the company went viral, from 500 to 590,000 Facebook views in two weeks!
Accurately define your TAM, SAM & SOM.
One startup had developed a solution for the insurance industry and claimed there was a $540 billion market for the solution. That was completely misleading and the investors knew it, of course. The $540 billion figure was net premiums written, which is the TAM or total available market. The solution had a vastly smaller (although still impressive) SAM or service available market of $2-3 billion. SAM is the total market for a given solution. The most relevant number for investors is the SOM or service operable market. This is the market for the solution that is within reach of the startup. “Within reach” can be geographical, by the size of sale or some other metric.
Think through how to present your team.
Demonstrating the CEO has assembled a talented team is another quality investors look for. In another recent pitch targeting the healthcare industry, a startup CEO outline his company and solution, which required a large team to execute effectively. However, when introduced his team, he introduced just himself and one other person. When asked, it was clear he had not nailed down how he planned to staff his company.
Another startup planned to tackle a complex cloud networking issue with a new approach that would be highly effective, but also very technically challenging. When the CEO presented her team, she listed 5-6 people who all had impressive credentials, but she did not list a CTO. One investor asked immediately how she planned to finalize and bring to the market this solution without someone in a CTO role.
Related Post: Marketing Listening Strategies: Can You Hear Me Now?
Present a basic P&L and plan for use of funds.
Many excellent investor presentations stumble when it comes to presenting financials. Many have no P&L of any kind and several startup CEOs have asked for funding with little or no explanation for use of funds. In a 4-5 minute presentation, there is limited time to discuss financials. Create a basic P&L with figures grounded in at least sound estimates, that should forecast 3-5 years out, as well as a well thought out explanation for use of funds
These five tips aren’t even the tip of the iceberg but represent just a few of the areas you need to cover off on when presenting to investors. Remember, while dollars invested topped $70 billion in 2017 for the second year in a row, the number of deals declined for the third year in a row, falling 4% from 5,268 to 5,052, according to CB Insights. Startups need more than a great product, they need to tell a great story. Addressing these five tips will help them on their way.