I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: an investor presentation is not a presentation about your product, its features and how amazing it is. Yes, investors care about what you do, your big idea, and how your product solves a big customer problem. But they care even more about making money.
All investors have questions in their mind that they don’t ask, and it is critical to answer these questions in your investor pitch proactively. Instead of wasting an investor’s time with 20 slides about the features of your product or service, how it works, and why it is so cool, spend more time answering these five key questions:
What is your big idea?
Big ideas start with big customer problems that are hard to solve. Big ideas have a potentially huge market opportunity with explosive growth potential. Big ideas allow companies to make a lot of money, and in the process make a lot of money for their investors.
How do you make money?
Making money is the purpose of business. Unless you are running a non-profit company, investors will want to see a business model where you grow revenue fast over a sustained period of time, that you’ll have solid gross margins, and a financial model that delivers operating leverage over time with eventual solid profitability. If you are an entrepreneur and you don’t understand these business terms, then you need to learn them or hire or partner with a business expert to help in this area.
In the beginning, revenue growth is by far the most important thing, but you need to show how you will eventually make money. It is awesome to have a bigger purpose and that you want to change the world in a positive way, but you need show investors how you make money in order to attract them.
What are your credentials to lead a team and grow an amazing business? Who are your mentors? You need to have a track record of success, domain expertise in your target vertical markets, technical expertise in your product area, passion about what you are doing, and the leadership capability to build and manage a team to do the seemingly impossible.
Investors will want be asking themselves, “Can I trust this person with my money? Do I believe what he is saying? Is this someone I want to work with and bet on? Is she a winner? Can this person build and lead a world class team?”
Bill Gross from IdeaLabs gave a very famous TED Talk a couple years ago about ‘timing’ being the single biggest reason for startup success. Many entrepreneurs feel that this means thatsuccess and failureis significantly based on luck. This isn’t really the case.
Market timing is about understanding the broader ecosystem that will either allow your company to grow, or prevent it from growing. You need to have an emerging market opportunity that is not apparent to the casual observer, but that can be articulated succinctly, crisply and clearly to an astute and knowledgeable observer.
Why this team?
In order to accomplish any Herculean task, like growing a company from scratch to a viable, money generating, profitable enterprise, you need to have other people. Startups are a team sport. As the leader, you need to understand the core competencies required to win in the market, and then attract the right people. You then need to get them excited and focused to win as well. Think about the show Mission Impossible. Trust me, if you don’t pull it off, the investors will disavow any knowledge of your mission!
Remember, investors care about your idea, but they also need to know about you, your team, your company, why now is the time, and how you’re going to make them lots of money. Or you won’t get funded.