While a strong business idea and a well written plan may generate the interest of equity providers, investors ultimately commit capital to people and not just plans. The ability to produce and present a compelling presentation of the companyís potential and managementís capability is therefore one of the most critical aspects of actually securing funding.
Financial data should be referenced in the Business Plan or as handout; not as a slide
Before producing a presentation of the business opportunity, management need to understand what their audience will be looking for. In addition, certain practical aspects such as the length of time allotted, the number of expected attendees, whether key people will be present for the entire time, and how much time should be allotted for questions and discussion, should also be determined in advance.
While it is a mistake to assume that the same presentation is suitable for all pitches, the following core guidelines provide a good starting point.
- The material will likely be in the form of slides or a PowerPoint presentation. The most important aspect is to be brief and to the point. As a general rule, a company should aim for no more than ten to twelve succinct slides in large, legible font.
- The slides should address the following points. The market opportunity, the companyís solution, how the business will deliver the solution, what makes the company unique, market analysis and competition, management team, key financial numbers and projections, current status and future timeline, concept summary and what needs to happen next.
- Presenting the slides should take approximately twenty minutes. Given the sheer number of presentations made to venture capital providers, it is unlikely that the initial allotted time is more than an hour. Limiting the verbal presentation to around twenty minutes allows for initial introductions, inevitable set-up delays and allows adequate time for meaningful questions and responses.
- Avoid too much text, complicated diagrams and tables as well as any information that is not absolutely critical to explaining the investment opportunity. The audience will quickly lose interest and it also gives the impression that the presenter is not familiar enough with the business or numbers and it therefore relying on printed data. Similarly, a presenter should avoid reading from the slides.
- Practice the presentation in front of a qualified audience. This is an opportunity to test alternative slides and scripts and builds presenter confidence. It also in the anticipation of potential audience questions that will arise from the slides and presentation.
The above points may appear basic, but the reality is that it is often requires more effort to explain a business concept and deliver a compelling investment proposal in a succinct manner. The temptation is to reproduce whole sections of the business plan in slide format, but this is a critical mistake.
If you believe in your company, your investors should be able to believe in you as the salesperson of your business concept. The best way to achieve this is through a brief but compelling presentation that further raises the investorís interest.