Speed Venture Summit, October 28, 2008 - 10/06/2008

Some time ago, I posted a link to the forthcoming New England Speed Venture Summit on my news page. This event is being held October 28 in Manchester, NH. Speed Venture Summit 2008 is an excellent opportunity for companies seeking capital to meet many potential investors over the course of one 5 hour event. Sign-ups for the event have been very strong, all the investor spots are full and over 50 presenting companies have signed up to date. Applications for presenting companies can still be submitted for another week or so.

The event is structured after speed-dating, and each company will have 10 minute appointments with potential investors for 3 hours during the main part of the event. Following this, there will be a 2 hour networking session where doors will be open to additional individuals from the community and industry. The idea is not new (see for example Funding Universe and Start-up speed dating), but this is the first time that I am aware of for this type of event to be held in NH, and given how successful it looks like it will be, there is a good chance the event will be an annual one.

With only 10 minutes, it is critical that presenters have a brief, clear story to tell, and the goal is to generate enough interest to secure follow-up meetings with potential investors. Given this, I wanted to offer some suggestions for presenting companies, from the perspective of a potential investor. These suggestions generally apply to any investor presentation, but with only 10 minutes, it is critical that the message be crisp and clear at this event.

So here they are:

  • Sell your business, not your product. Too many presenters focus far too much on their product, not how the business will succeed. Selling the business means briefly describing the market opportunity, what will you sell, who will buy it, the competitors and how are you unique, and what your business model is. 2 minutes.

  • Talk about the people involved – most investors will get behind strong people above almost anything else. Investors want to know you have what it takes and are 100% committed to your business. Some will want to see your house mortgaged too. Communicate why YOU are the team that will make things happen. 1-2 minutes.

  • State why you need funds and generally what they will be used for. State the goals that will be met and why the company will be more valuable – “hit 2M in revenue in 2009 and reach break even.” Briefly mention the desired deal terms and if you expect to need more funds later. 1-2 minutes.

  • Explain why this is a good potential investment. You need to convince the investor they will make an excellent return in a reasonable period of time. Refer to my prior posts so you understand the investor expectations. State your exit strategy – more than “sell the company” – state who will want to buy it and why. Mention any recent comparable deals and the multiples. 2 minutes.

  • Leave time for questions. Don’t try to cram so much in, that you are pressed for time. Wrap up in 6 or 7 minutes and let the investor ask questions – you will learn a lot from what they ask, and the investor will appreciate your brevity and their ability to stay on schedule. 2-3 minutes.

Remember, your goal as a presenter is to get the investor’s interest and score a follow-up meeting - there will be plenty of time for the details later if you succeed here. Less is more. Consider leaving an Executive Summary with the investor that highlights the key points so they won’t forget, after hearing as many as 9 more pitches after you. And most of all, remember to have fun, meet some people, and learn from the experience!

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