Performance Anxiety

As Peter Childs commented, I’ve started performing mini-case studies (LearnHub; FreshBooks, Tripharbour) about local startups. The idea is to provide a relatively quick analysis for entrepreneurs to look at how to evaluate their startups. The idea started for me between StartupCampMontreal and MeshU. The idea was listening to companies do pitches at StartupCamp and 15-Minutes-of-Fame at Mesh, that I immediately start to do some quick in-my-head guesstimates about companies using the basic pitch framework.

A successful pitch will show:

  1. the pain you are solving,
  2. how you solve it,
  3. and the value to your customers.

This combined with a business case helps to build an understanding of the market, business models, the people involved and the strategic relationships that will allow companies to succeed. The outline for each analysis is based on David Rose’s The Pitch Coach and the It’s All in the Sequence for investor pitch decks.

  1. Company Title Slide
    Start with the name and logo of the company, the name and title of your presenter, a one-line description or tagline about the company, and the dollar amount of the round you are raising.
  2. Business Overview
    Boil down your elevator pitch to one sentence. Tell us what you sell or do in very concrete language. This sets the context for the rest of your presentation.
  3. Management Team
    Show us your talent and experience, with one line of background (two lines max!) on each member.
  4. Market
    What’s the environment in which you operate, how big are the segments, what are the pain points?
  5. Product
    How do you solve a customer’s pain? What exactly do you do? This can be illustrated with a clear product or screen shot, or a simple process diagram, but if we don’t know what you do, we won’t know why we should fund you. (But don’t spend too much time on this, since you’re pitching the company here, not the product.)
  6. Business Model
    Who pays whom, how much, for what and from where. What does this mean for annualized revenue streams?
  7. Customers
    Who are they, how many are there, how do you distribute to them, and how are they attracted and retained?
  8. Strategic Relationships
    If you have any, make sure we know about them.
  9. Competition
    Who and how threatening are they? What are the differentiation factors? Include both direct and indirect competitors. Remember that everyone has competition, even if it is just "the old way" of doing something.
  10. Barriers to Entry
    How will other potential competitors be kept at bay?
  11. Financial Overview
    Show us your top-line revenues and expenses, and EBITDA two years back and four years out.
  12. Use of Proceeds
    Where will our money take you?
  13. Capital & Valuation
    How much have you raised previously, who are your current investors, what are you looking for in this round, and how do you come to your suggested valuation?
  14. Review
    Provide a brief summary of what you said, in this same order, narrowed to the five or six most important points.
  15. Contact Info/Next Steps
    Lead us into the next step, such as a follow-up meeting for due diligence…and include your contact info!

The idea is that here is an analysis that moves very quickly in to the talking points for a pitch deck. It’s a framework that is not tied to a practical help me build the conversation around raising money. There are other analyses that can be performed including:

I’m looking for suggestions on who should be next?

8 thoughts on “Performance Anxiety”

  1. Nice job with these David. We will definitely be 'in' but have to wait until we are live, so give us a couple of months.

  2. by the way, this series has been my favourite of all your posts. partly because i learn about the startups, but more so because the articles give insight into the way your brain works. i am truly impressed.

  3. by the way, this series has been my favourite of all your posts. partly because i learn about the startups, but more so because the articles give insight into the way your brain works. i am truly impressed.

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