after the motivation got sorted out in step 1 and in step 2 the a-b list of potential investors (part 1, part 2) got started, it is time to "prepare the battleground".
it would not be wise, to contact the top 3 vc on the a-b list to start with. even after the excitement of achieving a list after quite some work, this would be a bad thing to do. first, because the potentially best investors should be kept for later, when a routine in pitching was developed. secondly because what would happen if a contacted (still potential) investor directly calls back and ask for the executive summary and you do not have one yet? and no, sending out something that was just compiled in a couple of hours, is not a good idea. not even for the bottom three vc from your a-b list.
following the advise of general sun zi (read more about sun zi, moltke & douglas adams für start.ups here) you should only go into a battle when you know that you will win. therefore preparation before contacting future financiers is key. there are four things that have to be in place:
1) investor picht slides (30-20-10),
2) an executive summary (2 pages, includes financials),
3) business plan (20 pages total, including all attatchments & 1 page financial summary),
the best way now is to work through the list top - down.
plan to spend around one week on preparing your investor presentation and executive summary. follow 30 (minimum font size) - 20 (time of presentation) - 10 (number of slides) guideline from guy kawasaki. stick to this rule, do not try to improve it, it only reduces the chances of funding.
use the following headlines, kawasaki again: 1) problem, 2) solution, 3) business model, 4) underlying magic, 5) marketing and sales, 6) competition, 7) projections, 8) team & 9) status & time line.
the structure is the same for the investor presentation as well as for executive summary. for more details, read "the art of the start", or "reality check" from guy kawasaki.
the executive summary shall not succeed more then two pages. and that includes a summary of the financials (projections for revenues, number of customers contracts, personnel & other costs, number of employees, total cash requirements, sources of funds).
focusing that much requires a clear focus of the aim of the start.up and how to achieve it. if two pages are not enough, more thoughts have to be spent on the start.up.
based on the presentation and executive summary the business plan can be compiled. sticking to a readable 20 pages is key again. no vc will read a 60 page manifesto. after the focusing work was done in the executive summary, filling in the prosa can be done in 2 days. if not, going back to thinking for the exec. summary is imminent.
having followed the chronological order of the "battleground" preparation it is time to think about the start.up's references.
first, who can be the references? choose from former employers, colleagues which already made it, customers, former investors, well connected lawyers, reputable professors. whoever can give valuable, connected reference can make sense. a similar procedure as compiling the a-b list can be applied. not everyone which is known by the members of the start.up is a valuable reference for potential investors though.
as the executive summary is ready by now, it will be easier to get 2-3 references on board, using the key pitch topics is the thoroughly prepared "ammunition" at hand.
being prepared with all the materials required and the investor targets identified, it is time for approaching the investors. this will be the next part of the series, six steps to venture capital.
recommendation: while preparing the a-b vc list, create 1) pitch slides (30-20-10), 2) an executive summary (2 pages including financials), , 3) business plan (20 pages total, attachments & 1 page financial summary included), 4) prepare 2 to 3 references.