A few inches of mistakes during a Pitch can cost A company the prize

DSC_54870014In a recent Angel investors’ meeting where three pitches were made, I could not avoid thinking about the football movie, “On Any Given Sunday”, where the coach talks about the “inches” being too short, or their being too long, and that mistakes in that lose a game are measured in inches. Similarly, these fund raising pitches suffered the same mistakes measured in inches.  One presenter’s posture with his hands in his pockets was not a favorable look. Imagine Steve Jobs doing his product pitches stuffing his hands in his pockets.

Another had too much content on a slide to show the thought process being impressive.  It was full of connected boxes with many connecting lines. However, for the total number of years in company’s operation, the company only earned several thousand dollars revealed after questioning.  In other words, complicated Powerpoint slides do not attract investors.  A history of profitability does.

So, apparent, little things can have palpable impact on being funded during a fund raising presentation.  Whether it is the physical presence.  The colors or backgrounds or the presentations.  Or the content being shown on the slides.  Yet many startups seem to ignore these few inches.

As a comparison, let us look at Wall Street investment firms, which have been in the business of raising money for years.  Beyond the bankers, these offices are littered with writers, Powerpoint experts, graphic artists, and applications specialists. They worry about the background of the slides that should have the appropriate shade of blue.  They can put together strong graphical representations of the business, without obfuscating or distracting the viewers. Charts and spreadsheets should be simple and direct.

Effective presentations should be rehearsed, with all the essential numbers known by heart.  When delivering the presentation, the basic points must always be addressed, while highlighting the most important information – burn rates, margins, cash positive.  I have seen the Wall Street presentations by leading CEOs, and they all hit the same concepts raised by startups.  These CEOs are pitching their company to financial analysts in the audience very familiar with many presentations. Startups should not present any differently.

What to present I believe I mentioned in earlier blogs.  Be cognizant that the slides should exceed 15-20 in numbers, and when rehearsed, the timing should not exceed 20-25 minutes.  Why?  The rest of the 55 minutes are dedicated to questions and introductions.  Slides should be simple with sizeable fonts and with the key elements of the strategy.

But breaking away from this mold can be fatal as the “few inches” of mistakes attest.


About Juan Ramón Zarco, SVVGP 胡安•雷蒙•扎尔科

Juan Ramon Zarco, 胡安•雷蒙•扎尔科, Silicon Valley Ventures Growth Partners llp, Hygieia Healthcare Technologies Company, AllRest Technologies LLC, Crimson Growth Partners LLP, jrzarco2001@yahoo.com, is an experienced as CxO, General Counsel and Secretary to public and private companies with global operations. Established track record of producing practical, revenue-focused solutions. As Counselor and Secretary, demonstrating vision, integrity, and sound business judgment, to CxOs. Managed complex, strategic transactions, M&A, contracts support, PE Financing, IPO, SEC compliance, Corporate/HR governance, IP licensing, Budgeting, Staff, outside counsel management, International market access strategies, Domestic & foreign government relations and advocacy. Creative in designing and implementing market access strategies. Practices law beyond conventional model with low-overhead and project-based fees. Effective at managing departments, formulating marketing strategies, balancing budgets, and implementing cost-saving measures. Extensive in-house and private practice experience, advising clients on commercial, corporate, international business, and technology law and policy. http://www.docstoc.com/video/89135472/make-your-business-an-international-presence; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx5gijf3yoc For Sprint, he managed iDen international development in Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Africa, and contractual issues with Verizon. In Private Equity, he worked with Pegasus in vetting international investment deals and interim President for portfolio companies, such as Data Foundation, a data storage company, handling marketing, strategy, fund raising, and accounting. Before Pegasus, Mr. Zarco, as CLO and V.P. of Corporate Development, played a principal role in the structuring, international expansions for 2 telecom companies, U.S. Cable Group and Viatel, Inc. in financing and M&A deals exceeding $200 million. Mr. Zarco earned a J.D. from NYU Law School, M.B.A. from Cornell, and B.A. from Williams College; is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German, with working knowledge of Russian, Arabic and Japanese.
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