Six Slides

Can you pitch your company in six slides? I can’t believe that Fred and Brad raised the first USV fund  with only six (6) slides.

“We learned to simplify our story and we learned how to create six killer slides. And killer slides are not slides with a dozen bullets each. They are six powerful points that combine to tell the meat of the story.

So when you sit down and build your pitch deck, think of six slides that will inspire and leave something for the imagination. The best part of six slides is that you will get through them in time to have a real substantive conversation face to face about your business. Imagine that.” – Fred Wilson

Constraints are a great thing. They help entrepreneurs filter and focus their presentations and messages. Getting your pitch down to six slides is going to be a challenge, and challenges are fun. I’m a big fan of the sequence of slides recommended by  David Rose’s, chairman of the New York Angels,  but even this sequence is 15 slides.

  1. Company Title Page
    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!

I can immediately reduce this to 7 slides, it’s not 6 but it’s close. The goal here is not to provide all of the information in these slides but to boil down the critical information to the salient points. I have been using Business Model Generation and the work of Alex Osterwalder to help build a better understanding of business model, value proposition, key partners and revenue streams. This combined with the slide sequence is a really effective way to model your business, customers, partners, costs and revenues.

Speed and Growth

Icarus by exper

I had coffee yesterday with Mark Organ. Mark is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Eloqua. We were talking about the 2 advantages that startups bring which are:

  • Speed
  • Growth

Speed and growth are what the startup is all about. You have the opportunity to be faster, more nimble and achieve greater growth rates than larger companies. The discussion around speed focused on the ability of startups to adapt to their environment more quickly than their larger more established competitors. Mark talked about the OODA loop and the ability for startups to make the loop tighter and make better decisions and more effective actions. 

“The key is to obscure your intentions and make them unpredictable to your opponent while you simultaneously clarify his intentions. That is, operate at a faster tempo to generate rapidly changing conditions that inhibit your opponent from adapting or reacting to those changes and that suppress or destroy his awareness. Thus, a hodgepodge of confusion and disorder occur to cause him to over- or under-react to conditions or activities that appear to be uncertain, ambiguous, or incomprehensible.”  Harry Hillaker

OODA by John Boyd
From Curtis Gale Weeks

Being able to compress the OODA loop is one of the advantages of a startup is to “operate at a faster tempo or rythym than our adversaries”. This is all very similar to the concepts introduced in the lean startup (see Eric Ries’ The Startups Rules of Speed).

” Applying lean thinking to entrepreneurship requires a new definition of progress, one that is focused on measuring learning rather than measuring objects. The day-to-day process that startups build should also attempt to maximize speed of learning.” Eric Ries

Building in tools and methods into the process that let founders and team members observe, orient, decide and act faster is key. The more I think about the need to build metrics into applications and marketing solutions. I want to be able to understand the performance of my design decisions relative to previous experience/performance, new information, competitive analysis and traditions. This is the Orient part of the OODA loop but it requires the codification of new performance data and the existing business metrics and the cluster immune system. Check out Bradford Cross’  experiences using lean, he cuts through a lot of the hype, mysticism and talks about it in practice.

This is very different than the using the OODA loop to keep ahead of your enemy’s decision making cycle. Your enemy early on is time and a lack of customer data. But I’m becoming a big believer in customer development. It’s becoming clearer for me that if you are able to automate your observations and data collection that you’ll have better data about the performance of your application to make informed decisions. The same is true of the inbound marketing campaigns and tools. Time to look at what can be captured and how to automate the “orient, decide and act” phase for application development.

From out of the ashes

Reposted from my StartupNorth post:

Photo by Timm Suess
Photo by Timm Suess

Is there any questions that the Canadian venture captial industry is in turmoil? There is a change that is happening, it might just not be happeing as fast as it could. Mark McQueen talks about the the creative destruction of the VC industry in Canada.

“There’s no robust “new class” of VC firms coming in behind the current oligarchy, with a similar amount of capital to deploy as those they are planning to replace. We are witnessing the destruction piece of the equation, for sure, but not the rebirth that is the essence of “creative destruction” if it is to succeed.” – Mark McQueen, Wellington Fund

While there are a few new players entering the market (I’m looking at you ExtremeVP and Mantella VP), we’re seeing a lot of roadkill. There are firms that are not able to raise their next fund, partners that are on life support, startups that are left to wonder what happen to their partners in raising additional capital. However, many that remain are digging in and fighting for their way of life. They are lobbying for support to “manufacture an environment that is hospitable to their investment style”. Adam Adamou at Caseridge Capital Corporation argues that the existing venture players, the Canadian VC oligarchy, has successfully lobbied for restrictions that have kept out new players including the public/private venture capital that was used to fund RIM.

“The traditional venture capitalists see themelves as the founders of a “Silicon Valley North” and they follow the US trends, which unfortunately do not apply to our Canadian market. They seem to see themselves as avant garde investors in tomorrow’s technology companies, however, they behave more like bankerss[sic] – preferring security and downside protection over opportunity”

Yikes, that’s a damning review of the Canadian venture industry. However, I’m not sure that the suggested alternatives including Capital Pool Companies and the TSX-V are really better choices for Canadian entrepreneurs (or investors). (I’m not an expert on CPCs or TSX-V but when my friends and trusted advisors like Mark McLeod provide commentary, I listen). What I took away from The Adamou Rant is that many of the funds have a vested interest in the maintaining something akin to the current system. Governments should look critically at the numbers being presented and who is presenting them.

The State of a Nation

Is the sky falling? What is the state of venture capital in Canada? Is it really this bad? And why does it matter to early-stage entrepreneurs? Should we all just move to Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston or somewhere else?

The Canadian VC environment has been challenging for a lot of entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, you need to understand the environment that you will start, fund, and grow your company. Canada has a strong track record of access to capital, a stable economic policy and should be a great spot for entrepreneurs. It’s also unique. Canadian companies tend to be at a later stage of corporate development and raise less money than their US counterparts. I’ve written about the impact of the state of the funding environment has on startups. And what entrepreneurs can contintue to expect to see, includes:

  • The number of investors will continue to decrease
  • Valuations will continue to decrease
  • Customer uptake will be slower
  • Need to become cash flow positive
  • Acquiring entities will favour profitable companies

Mark McQueen provides the best summary of state of the Canadian Venture Capital landscape I’ve seen in a while:

  • VC investments in Canadian firms hit a 14 year low in 2009
  • US venture market saw US$18 billion invested in 2009, Canada saw only $1 billion (5.5%) our economy is approximately 12.5% the size of the US economy
  • Up to half of current Canadian VC funds will not be able to raise their next fund
  • Ontario government has sunset the $1 billion Retail Venture Capital Industry
  • “Section 116″ was fixed in the 2010 Federal Budget, however, this is not a silver bullet
  • 117 disclosed cross board investments since January 2008 (this includes Canadian investments in US companies)
  • Canadian Fund of Funds have lots of capital to invest in foreign led funds: EDC ($1.2 billion); Teralys ($700 million); OVCF ($205 million)

A New Hope

We need to hope that from out of the ashes will emerge a better funding environment for Canadian entrepreneurs. Whether this is led by new funds, angel investors, US funds, or the existing players learning from their mistakes, it doesn’t matter.

We’re starting to see a strong set of the big players making acquisitions across Canada:

Our startups need real capital to continue to compete on the world stage. But They can’t survive on SR&ED credits alone. We need to hope that this creative destruction happens quickly, so that something can rise from the ashes and we can witness the rebirth of the Canadian tech startup.

Demand Generation

Photo by </arpy>
Photo by </arpy>

Brydon asked me about my tips for DemoCamp presenters. The advice is very simple, it’s all about understanding the audience, your possible outcomes/next steps, and maximizing the audience engagement with the goal of achieving your outcome. It doesn’t sound very complicated. The other advice I can give to presenters is to watch other presenters with a critical eye. You can see a pitch fest or a demo almost anywhere. Need help finding one to watch: check out Demo, TechCrunch50, or even some of the previous DemoCamps.

What to expect?

Demos are 5 minutes + 5 minutes of Q&A (more if the crowd is engaged and asking good questions).

How to get the most out of my demo slot?

  1. Set realistic expectations.
    This audience is a great place to find talent, to connect with potential early adopters, or get feedback from a very savvy crowd. Decide what you want to accomplish, i.e., we want to see potential early adopter reactions, we want to get potential hires engaged, we just want to be cool. This crowd will be blogging, tweeting, talking to each other, thinking about beer, etc. It’s kind of like a TechCrunch50 or Demo light (just one calorie – tastes great and less filling).
  2. Do the coolest thing first!
    I’ve got the greatest bread slicer. Then show me the freaking sharks with lasers attached to their heads slicing the bread. Once you’ve done that, then talk about the boring stuff. You want the audience engaged. So the audience the reason that you will win (and please don’t let it be a log in box
  3. Don’t use slides unless absolutely necessary.
    This is called “Demo” Camp. People want to see functioning software. There are certain things that are hard to convey in a demo, i.e., funders, strategic relationships, etc. But if you start with the big WOW! then a few slides to convey the other details won’t get as many heckles.

This is all about demand generation. I’m happy to help you understand the audience and how to succeed. We want great demos. Demos where people go “holy shit, that was built in Canada, I want to _____” work there/buy it/make my company more like those guys.

Demo Resources

LearnHub – Account Manager

Toronto, ON

LearnHub is a young, energetic start-up located in downtown Toronto. Our site,, is a social learning platform, with a global mandate to change the way people teach and learn online.

We are looking for a dynamic and customer-oriented individual to manage our partner accounts.

This job is perfect for you because:

  • You are detail-oriented and very organized
  • You enjoy working with people and have strong communication skills
  • Customer is "king" attitude when dealing with clients and client matters
  • You are self-motivated, ambitious, and actively seek out challenges
  • You have strong analytic and project management skills
  • You understand and are willing to meet the demands of a start-up work environment
  • You have an ability to push through obstacles standing in the way of project completion.

Your responsibilities will include:

  • Managing the setup of clients on our platform
  • Tracking client performance and creating accurate reports
  • Working with clients to resolve any problems that may arise
  • Interfacing with our development team to implement new features to help clients succeed
  • Working with our India-based team on client related issues
  • Identifying current challenges and obstacles to appropriate people and working with them to find solutions.


  • Education: undergraduate degree (any specialization)
  • Experience: minimum project and/or account management (2+ years), sales experience would be a plus.

We offer a casual, fun and respectful work environment, competitive compensation, and an opportunity to be part of something meaningful. Our office is located in the hip Queen & Spadina neighborhood.

This position reports to the VP of Business Development.

If this sounds interesting, please email

Big Hairy Audacious Goals for Startups

Originally posted on StartupNorth.

Reid Hoffman talks about LinkedIn’s startup story on CNN. It’s a very interesting story about a successful entrepreneur becomes a serial entrepreneur by focusing on both a vision and a set of success metrics.

We had this initial challenge of, "How do you get a million people?" The first challenge was getting enough people so that functions like searching for people or sharing information had enough people in it to be valuable. The year 2003 was all about tuning and viral growth.

I’m a huge believer in getting a million people, getting them engaged, and then building a business model on top of that.

Why does a million people matter? Is this a good metric for other startups? How will know if you are successful? This requires having both a set of measures and a set of goals.

AARRR! Be Bold. Be Humble.

What should you be measuring? The good news is that others have done a lot of the heavy lifting. Dave McClure has a great presentation on Startup Metrics for Pirates. The

Dave has a quick 5 point plan for understanding how to frame a startup, the business model and the performance of both the marketing and product development efforts.

  • Passion for problem/solution + Hypothesis of Customer Lifecycle
  • 1 page Business Model: Prioritized List of (Users + Conversions + Priorities)
  • Critical, Few, Actionable Metrics + Dashboard of Measured User Behaviour
  • 1 page Marketing Plan: (Channels + Campaigns) * (Volume, Cost, Conversion %)
  • Velocity of (Product Execution + Cycle Time of Testing) * Iteration

This shouldn’t feel like rock science. It’s a way to frame the problems that all startups should be used to answering. What problem do you solve? What is life cycle of your customers? Who are your customers and how are you acquiring them? How do you reach your customers? How do you know if your development process is healthy? How will you know if you’ve been successful? It’s not rocket science.


Startup Metrics provide the baseline set of things a startup should be measuring. You should be building the data collection into your application, and he suggests you should “delegate each metric to someone to own”. This is the what, but it’s missing the Big Hairy Audacious Goal. The metrics are the starting point for measurement, and not they are not the target for an organization. 

What is your “million users” goal? – BizDev/Sales Representative

Mid-town Toronto, ON


Develop new – and maintain current – partnerships with restaurants using a client-focused approach.

About us

Interested in working for a startup technology company with lots of energy and excitement? is looking for the brightest and most talented candidates to join our team. We’re a small company based in Toronto with a great opportunity for anyone who joins to make a big impact.

At BeSocial, we value efficiency, working smart, and exceeding the status quo. We place great emphasis on maintaining a transparent and autonomous environment where everyone’s opinion is respected and where people’s contributions are acknowledged and rewarded. BeSocial is also proud to be an equal opportunity employer; we’re not influenced by race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or any other factor irrelevant to doing a great job.

If you feel you’re up to the task, we’d love to meet you. If this is not a fit for you, please feel free to forward this message along to others who may be interested in learning about this opportunity.

The ideal profile

You’re a confident, disciplined, self-motivated hunter AND farmer (if you think that means shooting moose and harvesting corn, don’t read any further) who’s hungry for a challenge and loves to win. As a consultative salesperson, you view selling as an opportunity to create value for clients by discovering their needs before offering a solution. Your independence is more important than your interdependence; you’d rather be out meeting new people every day instead of hanging out by the water cooler (you don’t have a choice… we don’t have a water cooler).


  • Manage sales pipeline and territory, as well as organize travel schedule, meetings, and sales calls.
  • Meet with potential clients to identify and discuss their needs/requirements.
  • Conduct focused demonstrations/presentations.
  • Present proposals based on client needs.
  • Achieve sales goals and revenue targets within a set time frame.
  • Maintain positive client relationships.


  • 2+ years sales experience with a proven record of success and distinction.
  • Must be ambitious, hard working, and well organized.
  • Ability to work both individually and in a team environment.
  • Strong communicator with excellent problem solving, relationship building, and objection handling skills.
  • Intermediate computer knowledge; proficient in all Microsoft Office applications.
  • Experience with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software such as
  • Know how to work and create a territory.
  • Flexibility and willingness to travel.

Assets (not required)

  • Experience in online media/marketing/advertising or the hospitality industry.
  • Business-to-business (B2B) sales experience.
  • Business degree, diploma or equivalent experience in a related field.
  • Knowledge of local Toronto (and GTA) restaurants.
  • You love food and dining out, otherwise known as a Foodie.


Full-time (40+ hrs/week). This is a long-term career position with opportunities for growth.


Headquartered at Yonge and St. Clair, you’ll have access to protected territory in Toronto and may be required to travel to surrounding areas within the GTA.

Compensation & Benefits

  • Full commission + bonuses. High performance is rewarded.
  • Comprehensive health and dental.
  • New laptop provided.
  • Training program.
  • Career advancement opportunities, including Sales Management.
  • Award/recognition program.

Join Us…Apply Today!

Want to join us? Please send your resume and a cover letter with the subject "Your Name – Business Development – via" to All communication and correspondence is held in the strictest confidence to ensure that you can connect and learn more without exposure.

Only those candidates who are considered for an interview will be contacted

Questions for most promising startups

logo-tia BCTIA has published their criteria for the 2009 Technology Impact Awards. The submissions are due on March 13, 2009. As a start-up there are tradeoffs about participating in these award programs. Depending on the program there might be a cash prize, introductions to funding sources, press opportunities, etc. Or it could be a giant waste of time. You have to evaluate each program individually. I think the BCTIA program is a good balance of Recognition and Exposure. It is really about growing and supporting the local technology ecosystem.

My favourite part about the TIA awards is the submission criteria. I think every start-up should be able to answer these questions [PDF 48.9kb]. 

Summarize why this submission should be considered for Most Promising Start Up Award category and explain the relevancy of the business concept based on the following four equally weighted criteria and using the listed questions as a general guideline:

  1. Value proposition
    What problem are you solving?
    For whom?
    How will you make money?
  2. Competitive differentiator
    What differentiates your product, service or technology from alternative solutions?
    What is your sustainable competitive advantage?
  3. Market opportunity
    Please be specific as to the addressable segment of the market you are targeting.
    How large is your market?
    What is the nature of the competitive landscape?
  4. Management team
    Who are the key team members and board/advisors?
    Why does your team have the ability to execute on the business plan?

The questions are perfect for early-stage companies to identify the problem, how you’ll make money, the market opportunity and the differentiators. (The application puts a further limitation of 2000 words).

Why not give it a try?

If you’re a Canadian start-up write a blog post that is less than 2000 words that answers the above questions. Send me an email or a tweet, just @reply me, with a link containing your answers to the question. I’ll retweet the submissions and see if I can share some recognition and exposure.

Business pr0n

monocle hbrfastcompanyeconomist

Even as the Hearst Corporation puts the Seattle PI up on the auction block, I still have a love of paper. I have a fascination with books and I love the gloss pages, typography and photography of magazines. I’ve subscribed to WIRED Magazine since part way through the first year (hard to believe that I’ve been reading it for 17 years). Business 2.0 shut down in October 2007, and my subscription was replace with a subscription to Fortune. Great magazines, but I think it’s time to add to my list of monthly reading.

While WIRED seems to have stepped up the game again, I’ve enjoyed the past 3 issues cover to cover. When I asked on Twitter for recommendations, responses were limited to a group of 4 magazines. (I wonder if we really have become a monoculture of homogenous business thinkers).


The responses:

I’ve never seen or read Monocle. It’s expensive. It covers business, culture and design. Something new. And it comes highly recommended. I’ve purchased and read HBR, Fast Company and The Economist in the past. They are all great reads, but I need something that is less business fluff and less business textbook. Looks like I’ll have to find Monocle on the newsstand in Toronto.

The only magazine not listed was Business Week. Could be there were no champions. Also could be it was listed in my initial tweet. But with friends like David Armano being published, it definitely deserves some of my attention.

What magazines are you reading related to design? technology? business? innovation? behaviour? science?

Savvica – Business Development Manager

Toronto, ON

Savvica is a young, energetic start-up located in downtown Toronto. We run the social learning network We have a mandate to change the way people teach and learn online.

We are looking for a dynamic and customer-oriented individual to prospect, close and foster strategic accounts within the higher education international student recruitment industry. You will work with decision makers across North America to explain how LearnHub can assist in their student recruitment activities and sign them up for our services.

This job is perfect for you because:

  • You enjoy working with people and have excellent communication, presentation and listening skills
  • You are comfortable making cold calls and prospecting for new clients through email, at conferences and in other creative ways
  • You are a relationship builder and can engender trust quickly and with ease
  • You love technology and education and are a life long learner
  • You are goal driven, enjoy working independently, and need little management
  • You are a highly focused and energetic individual able to work in a fast-paced environment
  • You have a "client is king" attitude

Your responsibilities will include:

  • Prospecting and building our client base by meeting your sales targets
  • Arranging meetings and presenting to clients and prospects
  • Supporting and creating awareness of the LearnHub brand
  • Attending conferences and networking
  • Tracking prospects and accounts in Salesforce (CRM)
  • Assisting in determining marketing and sales strategy, including the preparation of marketing material


  • Education: Undergraduate degree (any specialization), Masters degree a plus
  • Experience: Minimum 3 years sales experience and/or experience within the international student recruitment industry
  • Willingness to travel
  • Experience in a start-up business a plus

We offer a casual, fun and respectful work environment, competitive compensation, and an opportunity to be part of something meaningful. Our office is located in the hip Queen & Spadina neighborhood.

This position reports to the Vice-President, Business Development

If this sounds interesting, please email