Compressing your business into a handful of PowerPoint slides and then pitching it to a person who is conditioned to say no 99% of the time is a herculean challenge.
To help entrepreneurs build this skill set Orrick brought together three great VCs in their Total Access Series to give us the inside scoop on just what VCs are looking for. It was very clear that from viewing so many pitches (Noah in particular mentioned seeing over 1000 every year) - there are some clear signals they look for.
The name of the game is to check all the right boxes (got a great team, traction and market) without tripping a sore spot (overcrowded market, entrenched competition, low defensibility). What follows are some quick notes from each of the partner presentations:
Noah Lichtentstein - Cowboy Ventures
- Noah started by talking about Cowboy’s focus on Life 2.0 – the ways in which technology will change the way we work and live. This underlined the firms strong focus on user facing technologies (know their focus before pitching!)
- Company Value Proposition - What benefit, for who, and how will you do it uniquely well (quoted from Michael Skok of NorthBridge). Will you win by being better, cheaper, or entirely new?
- Investor Value Proposition - How are you going to build a billion dollar business in less than 10 years?
Steph Palmeri - SoftTech VC
- Market sizing - shoot for a $1 Billion Market. The math here is that you can probably capture 10% of that market – making you a $1B company. It’s really hard to get 50%+ of a market.
- Know your market
- Existing – need to be better faster cheaper (ie google)
- Re-segmented – fundamental shifts, niche (ie Salesforce)
- New Market – something completely new (ie twitter)
- Compare Top Down (industry reports) and Bottom Up market sizing (# customers * Lifetime Value) to make sure they are similar in size. If they aren't you've missed something.
- Make sure everyone in the scope of your market sizing can actually become a buyer. Example: If you're selling children's clothes your market sizing cannot include adult clothing purchases.
- Investors will have their own ideas and do their own research. It’s your job to give them a credible jumpstart.
- This is just as much about the data as an evaluation of your thought process as an entrepreneur.
- Qualify size with competition, montetization potential, market growth, market share, timing
- Competition is similar to comparables. A great market will uses have strong competitors. They simultaneously validate your choice of market while making it less attractive..
- If your market is crowded/complex/scary to investors (has dead bodies) consider making an ecosystem slide. Tell them why the market is different than hey think.
- Who will you compete with today/tomorrow? Will you be able to raise your next round?
Niko Bonatsos General Catalyst Partners
- Be clear about your unique advantages – technology, insights, timing, growth models?
- Growth tips
- Press – (ie techcrunch)
- FB Mobile Ads. New channels are cheaper and have better ROI
- Never pay for users/customers early on. Focus on improving your product.
- reinvest in growth. don’t worry about breakeven – get to that critical mass and then think about.
You can find all the slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/OrrickTA