Western Mass Business Show Interview: Innovation in Western Massachusetts

My thanks to Ira Bryck for a wonderful interview on his Western Mass Business Show radio program on WHMP. We chatted about the various ventures I have had the joy of being a part of, especially the River Valley Investors, Valley Venture Mentors, and my new startups Launch413 & the Lean Innovation Institute. You can here the full interview here: Western Mass Business Show 3.31.18 | WHMP-AM – News – Information – The Arts

Proud Prof: Former Student's Company Opens Office in Paris

MassLive and the Springfield Republican kindly did a story on RVI portfolio company and VVM alum Cambridge Blockchain opening a new HQ in Paris. Full article here.

Investor Pitch Template & Tips

After seeing hundreds of formal presentation decks and hearing thousands of elevator pitches, some patterns emerge. Here is my recommended formula for how to put together an 8-10 minute pitch deck & speech for investors. Full template here, summary below:

  1. Company – Describe your venture in a tweet/sentence | describe what kind of skill set you bring to a job in a tweet/sentence. Some tips on condensing your value proposition into a tweet.
  2. Credibility – Talk is cheap, SHOW us you are someone with more than just an idea / someone we should continue listening to. If you have no credibility yet (very common!), skip this section. Remember to show, don’t tell.
  3. Customer Segment(s) – Give us a quick feeling for who your target market is and that they have enough money to make your venture worthwhile. Better yet, tell use about a sample customer.
  4. Pains – What is the pain (for your target market) you are solving? How to articulate your pains. Some tips on making sure your pains & gains match.
  5. Benefits – What benefits can you deliver to the target market that alleviates their pain? Note: features are not benefits :).
  6. Competitive Advantages – How are you positioned better than the competition? Remember the positioning triangle.
  7. Channel/Promotion – How are you going to find and get your customers cost effectively?
  8. Market size – How many dollars have your problem (video tips on market section)?
  9. Rev. Model / Key financial drivers – How do you make money? Can you make enough? Don’t show a spreadsheet!  Video w/ tips on financials & exit
  10. Exit – How do investors get their money back out plus a lot of profit for them? For instance: can you show us a screen full of logos representing companies like you that have been purchased for a lot of money? video w/ tips on financials & exit
  11. Team – If possible, intersperse this content throughout the rest of presentation. If that is tricky, make a dedicated team section. Remember to show, don’t tell how your team has the skills needed to help your kind of company succeed. What skills / people are you missing?
  12. Next Steps / Ask – ALWAYS end a pitch with some kind of ask. It can be explicit or implicit, but it must always be there. A great way to do it implicitly is to show the audience what your next step is. Get more detailed help on how to make a great Ask here. If you are asking for money, remember “Don’t tell us how much money you’ll burn.”

Some other great tips:

  1. When you make your slides you want a “dead seagull” on every slide!
  2. Don’t put more than one number to a slide, it confuses people.
  3. Use relative values instead of absolute, industry-specific ones.
    1. Turn “We added 1,000 customers over the past year” into… “Our customer base has doubled in the past year”
    2. Turn “20 customers in the 1st month” into… “We acquired as many customers in our first month as our competitors had after two years.”
    3. Turn “We spend $1.24 on materials” into… “Our gross margins are 75%.”
  4. Anticipate the questions your audience will ask and have extra slides at the end of your presentation that you can pull up during Q&A if the question comes up.

Hat Tip: This content expands on the work I did while working at the awesome www.valleyventurementors.org.