Per a recent thread, I never send decks in advance. Hat tip to @chudson for properly explaining why. Now that I’m beginning to do some VC work, I consciously lower my interest in people who send me decks in advance. If I’m helping write your deck then I need it, but if you see me primarily as an investor instead of an advisor, then it is specifically a bad idea. Find a way to write a paragraph or a one pager that’s interesting Leave the storytelling for when we’re making eye contact.
Because of all that, the in-person experience that a founder provides to the potential investor is critical. You are getting the chance to tell a 40 minute story about an organization that doesn’t exist to a person who you want to turn over noticeable cash to you on a poorly documented promise. Make it a story, make sure it has a great arc, and tell it well. I say 40 minutes because successful decks are 15 slides at most. The investor will be ten minutes late, and you want to get them out of there ten minutes early. If they have an assistant, helping the investor get back on schedule will make it a lot easier to get subsequent meetings booked.
I just sent a very uncomfortable note to a dear old friend on how to re-do his pitch — here’s the constructive (rather than critical) portion of that note, lightly edited.
The point of the first meeting is solely to get the second meeting which is the start of the ‘real’ process. I’m going to address the form of a successful pitch here. I can’t change your business fundamentals. The outline (slide numbers) of a deck that works is:
1. Attention grabber. In Minute 1, bring them into your emotional zone or get them dying to hear more. The former is generally when you are pre-product and the latter when there is user or sales traction.
2. Big market. What sells is proprietary redefinition of a market that a) makes the investor believe you’ve found a reason for customers to change behavior, and b) teaches them something.
3. Customer Pain — what hurts so bad that people will get off their asses and do something different that is worth money?
— if you don’t have them hooked by slide 3, it’s over, consider very politely packing up and leaving or switching to small talk having nothing to do with your fundraising. The former is more intriguing and tells a better story.
4. Solution - benefits description of what you do differently. if you don’t know the difference between benefits and features, then delay pitching until you do.
5. Features - product details and a demo if you want to do one, though i don’t do them. i don’t trust technology enough, plus a demo makes the investors even more likely to mistake themselves for the target market segment
6. Users/Customers/Sales plan
9. Milestones — what you promise to accomplish with the money not the Use of Proceeds
10. New financing and previous raises
11. “Come dream the dream with us” slide. Early stage guys are fantasists. The Lumatic deck was very efficient at closing angels/seed funds while we were still in development. I started with a car fire photo from Tahrir Square in Egypt to get people into my intended emotional zone, and I ended with Dorothy taking her first steps down the yellow brick road. I got the whole thing down to thirteen minutes and was closing great angel investors with it over Skype screenshare.
Please note that there are no financial projections. They don’t get you to the second meeting.
“Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don’t have a plan. The mob has plans, the cops have plans. you know what I am, Harvey? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught one. I just DO things.”—
“I was working with a lawyer on a deal 15 years ago. The lawyer on the other side of the deal was newly minted. I said to my lawyer “we should be able to get pretty good terms, since he’s new.” My lawyer, who was one of the top ten deal lawyers in the world, according to American Lawyer magazine, sighed and said “we’ll get the exact same terms we would have gotten if he was an experienced lawyer, but it will take three times as long and he’ll convince his clients you’re trying to screw them.””—Betting on the Ponies: non-Unicorn Investing - Reaction Wheel
“As far as I can tell Aileen Lee popularized this term in a Techcrunch article last year. Some days I wonder why she hates us, and some days I thank the gods that she didn’t decide to call them Princesses, or worse. But there was in her analysis the rationale for The System as well as the reason for its absurdity.”—Betting on the Ponies: non-Unicorn Investing - Reaction Wheel
Programmatic is complex but that statement is untrue. No wonder the quote is anonymous. If the brands bid direct, they can bid higher and win even without getting the price quite right. The 30%+ that the trading desks charge make them lose auctions by definition.
“He estimated that in the 25–44 age group, Seattle “has 119 single men for every 100 single women, slightly better than San Francisco at 121—but equal if you add in the impact from nearby Bellevue, which is an awful 144.”—
Approximately the same problematic statistics as the PRC if I remember correctly.
Maj. Gen. Pisit noted that officials will travel to Singapore to discuss the issue with Google and Facebook next month, and would consider visiting the headquarters of Japan-based Line—Thailand’s most popular smartphone messaging app—at a future date.
Users have taken to Line and other services to organize antimilitary demonstrations since the putsch, and Maj. Gen. Pisit said blocking some individual users’ Line accounts was “in progress.”A Line spokeswoman, however, said the company hasn’t been contacted by Thai authorities and that none of its users have been blocked.
“Yeah, well, that was then, this is now. I am sorry to report that after exhaustive anecdotal use I have concluded that the new Google Maps is kind of a shit show.”—Google Maps Has Forsaken Us | TechCrunch
That’s not how it happened at Kodak; and I doubt that’s how it happens anywhere. The analog sales guys killed Kodak’s well-known, researched, patented, and decently planned digital future to get paid their short-term commissions and quit/retire. When given the choice to suffer short term sales pain versus medium-term death, the board and CEO blew it.
“There are people like Brian Clark, who actually did move from Detroit, and was living off various hackathon winnings while teaching coding in MissionBit’s after-school programs for San Francisco’s public school students. Earlier this spring, he was literally sleeping on friends’ couches, eating one meal a day. But he won the Launch Hackathon and now has initial funding for a new startup called Vue, a mobile feedback and user engagement tool he built.”—How Burrowing Owls Lead To Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF’s Housing Crisis Explained) | TechCrunch
“When Goldberg reached out to Google Ventures’ Kevin Rose to tell him about the potential deal, Rose was offended that Goldberg hadn’t come to Google for a right of first refusal. Indeed, it was rookie investor management error on Goldberg’s part. Big funds invest in the seed round with the understanding they’ll get the chance to do the series A.”—
“Those less familiar with WhatsApp and its wonderful product will marvel at how a young company could be so valuable. Many of those people will be in the U.S. because there’s no other home grown technology company that’s so widely loved overseas and so under appreciated at home.”—
I don’t have time today to write this beautifully, but here’s why the acquisition makes so much sense to me:
The top of the engagement funnel leads directly to Facebook’s ability to make money. Take away the ‘timewasters’ of chat and photos, and the rest of FBs revenue machine goes down the tubes fast. Instagram might look cheap before long.
FB’s engagement growth is all outside the US — yet Whatsapp is bigger than them in Brazil if I recall correctly. FB needs to own the big developing economies to keep growing revenue aggressively. And there is a ton of revenue in the social messaging businesses per WeChat’s success with Red Envelopes for Chinese New Year and taxi hailing.
I’ve been focused on the independent social messaging apps as a 2014/15 distribution channel for a while. It was Lumatic’s plan for this year, and I’m still focused on it for Nanigans (where I work), et al.
P.S. Requesting elaboration on a short-form posting is a key gesture of a social publishing site that you haven’t heard of but need to — http://sayhi.co
P.P.S. I’m looking at my first East Asian angel investment, which is marginally wrapped up with WeChat and certainly stands to make money from everything above. Let me know if you want in. :)
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”—John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail. (via zachklein)
“Rutledge pointed to a potential downfall behind DSPs and claimed that he was not “convinced there’s not an opportunity for aribitrage for the DSP.” If a DSP, he continued, were to “ask Pepsi [for example], ‘what’s your budget?’ And Pepsi says ‘I’ve got a $50 CPM and I want to run this highly targeted audience.’ Who’s to say the DSP doesn’t put it in there as $30 and pocket the difference?””—
“Agencies and brands should work together on the groundbreaking, campaignable elements that make a brand memorable," she said. "Video, brand campaigns, the big stuff. Create it and then let go… teach the brand how to use what’s been created. Then the legacy of the creative lives on, and you (the agency) can take credit for much more than a static 300x250.”—
“So that brings us to the Nokia perspective. I have argued that Stephen Elop made a massive strategic error by choosing Windows Phone over Android; coming from Microsoft, he failed to appreciate that Nokia’s differentiation lay not in software, but in everything else in the value chain. It would have been to Nokia’s benefit to have everyone running Android, including themselves. Everyone would have the same OS, the same apps, may the best industrial design, distribution, and supply chain win. Elop threw it all away.”—The Deal That Makes No Sense | stratēchery by Ben Thompson
“People with the data in one part of a company and the people who need access to those analytics are increasingly sharing their competencies," May said. "We’re seeing the organizational siloes come down between CRM and advertising. In digital, they’re already merging into one consistent marketing strategy. Offline is catching up to that.”—With GetOnboard, LiveRamp Blurs The Lines Between CRM And Advertising
“The top four Google Play publishers based on revenue excluding games maintained their ranks in July. LINE, GREE, Kakao, and Pandora each generated most of their revenue from a single app and from a single market. LINE earned the bulk of their revenue from selling stickers in their messaging app to users in Japan; GREE earned revenue from Japanese users of their social gaming platform app; Kakao earned revenue from users of their messaging app in South Korea; and Pandora’s revenue came mainly from music listeners in the United States.”—App Annie Index: Apps - Messenger Apps Go To Battle For The World’s Messages - App Annie Blog
“As it turns out, the UN wasn’t the only organization targeted by the NSA in this manner — still more documents obtained by Der Spiegel speak to the existence of a program called the Special Collection Service that allows the agency to monitor goings-on in 80 embassies and consulates across the globe. Also on that list of targets is the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union, though at this point it’s unclear what exactly the NSA has managed to dig up on either of those bodies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Der Spiegel notes that SCS’s operation is a well-organized one that “has little or nothing to do with warding off terrorists.””—The NSA Reportedly Bugged The UN’s New York Headquarters | TechCrunch
“THE RISE OF community meshes suggests a possibility that is considerably more radical. What if you wanted a mesh that spanned the globe? A way to communicate with anyone, anywhere, without going over a single inch of corporate or government cable? Like what Joseph Bonicioli has in Athens writ large—a parallel, global internet run by the people, for the people. Could such a beast be built? On a purely technical level, mesh advocates say it’s super hard, but not impossible.”—How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer | Mother Jones