The Pitch, Revisited and Revised
Posted at 15:49h, 29 Nov 2015 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

As the year draws to a close, always good to look back and see where one is, and what one can do differently, and we recently came across an article that led us to believe that it may be time to disrupt the pitch deck. This is an industry that’s all about disruption, after all, and who better to give a lesson in that sort of disruption than Elon Musk?   You know the basic drill, although the order may vary:

  • Problem
  • Momentum, Traction, Expertise: Your key numbers
  • Market Opportunity: Define market size & your customer base
  • Current Solutions: What need do you fill? Other solutions
  • Product or Service: Your solution
  • Business Model: Key Revenue Streams
  • Market Approach & Strategy: How you grow your business
  • Team & Key Stakeholders (Investors, Advisors)
  • Financials
  • Competition

Your ‘Ask’ for funding; Basic use of funds

If you want to get more in depth, our friend J. Skyler Fernandez published an entire slideshare on The Best Startup Investor Pitch Deck & How to Present to Angels & Venture Capitalists

Or there’s Musk’s approach, when introducing his Tesla powerwall:

  • Name the problem/enemy
  • Answer “Why Now?”
  • Show the Promised Land/Solution and explain how you’ll get there
  • Identify obstacles – and explain how you’ll overcome them
  • Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air – show, don’t just tell

We attend many accelerator demos days and pitch events, and while the verticals may be different and the facts may change, let’s face it: chances you are not disrupting a $3 trillion dollar industry. A segment of it, maybe, and considering what’s going on in the unicorn population – as for claiming that you’re about to disrupt a $3 trillion industry – just stop it. In his presentation, Musk more or less proposes to disrupt the power grid on the entire planet. He may or may not be successful, but he tells a great story and presents a compelling case – persuasive demo included.

Most entrepreneurs present their demos, chapter and verse, from the pitch deck in more or less the same order as every other entrepreneur on the planet – and you wonder why potential investors’ eyes glaze over as they listen to yet another pitch. You call that disruptive? Prove that you are a true disruptor – if that’s what you’re claiming – and the one who’ll get the job done, from the minute you open your mouth. It’s not just about thinking outside of the box. A true disruptor isn’t even aware that the box exists.

It’s December. There are industry/company parties practically every night of the week, if you have your ear close enough to the ground, and investors (and their investment analysts) are unplugged or unplugging – but still out there attending parties and events and good time to make first contact. It doesn’t all comes to a grinding halt. Use this time wisely to get out there and meet people whom you’ll want to follow up with – and do make a note to self to ping them again in the new year, and remind them where you met.   Most importantly, remember that everyone loves a good story, so that’s your mission, Tell us a story, and yes, scare tactics work, if and when appropriate. If you don’t have a good story to tell, may be time to rethink what it is that you’re doing. That has certainly been done before.

Case in point: Airbnb and according to cofounder Brian Chesky, “We didn’t have this flash of inspiration that Air bed and breakfast was going to be huge. In fact we started building a different product — a roommate search tool. We worked on this for 4 months and then realized “roommates.com” had already built this service. I couldn’t believe how much time we wasted on this before checking the URL roommates.com.” Live and learn. They pivoted. Wisely. Not that their first pitch deck necessarily blew investors away. In fact, quite a few passed, early on. The numbers were good, but the presentation was fairly ho-hum.

And lest we forget, as the year draws to a close, Third quarter data shows exits continue to totally suck. In fact, they suck worse, and news like that always tend to give investors pause.   We’re not suggesting that you to reinvent the wheel – or the power grid. Just the pitch deck and your story, and what better time than as we go onward and forward towards a new year.

Our next Breakfast with an Investor, is this Thursday, December 3rd and Jeffrey Silverman, Co-Managing Director, Laconia Capital will be our guest investor. Laconia Capital Group, L.P., invests in Late Seed and Series-A stage of B-to-B SaaS companies. Prior to Laconia Capital, Jeffrey founded Laconia Ventures, LLC, a pledge fund investing in emerging digital technology companies and entrepreneurs. That fund holds investments in over 25 companies, including TripleLift, Wymsee, C3 Metrics and ALICE.

Jeffrey has over 20 years of experience building early stage media and technology companies. He spent 7 years as the CEO and President of Integrated Color Solutions, a B2B software company which pioneered color accurate monitor proofing for the graphics arts industry. In addition, he spent five years in multiple senior level positions at DoubleClick. More on the Eventbrite page. Register here.

This will also be our last Investor Breakfast of the year, so hope to see you there!

Onward and forward…