The WTFs of a Business Angel #10: If this is communication…
When we started SpeedInvest in 2011, we were a startup ourselves. A very well funded startup, but still, we were a team of people who had some experience in building companies and no experience in building a business angel fund. We are still learning an awful lot, because you can profit from other people’s wisdom, but there is no way around doing things yourself, making mistakes, trying again and again, learning from what you’ve seen so far. However, there are those rare events where we sit across the table in our office and are having a facepalm moment…
# 10: If this is communication…
“If this is communication
I’ve seen you, I know you
But I don’t know
How to connect, so I disconnect”
Communication, The Cardigans
I’d like to conclude this series on our facepalm moments with a little story that happened just a week ago, but it was not the first time that we sat together in our weekly pipeline meeting and looked through pitch decks and business plans. You have to imagine how a business angel usually works: we get about 5 – 10 pitch decks per week, look at them individually, sort out those that do not match our investment focus and distribute the rest within our partner group. In our weekly meeting we try to take a look at every startup and devote at least 30 minutes of discussion to each of them, touching on major points that we see and on whether we believe that we could contribute anything to this company, etcpp.
Even though we often spend more than 30 minutes on that, the first 5 minutes are key. This is when we jointly look through your presentation. We have to understand what you are trying to communicate here, to be able to grasp your idea. Quick and precise. So we were looking at a startup, let’s call them NewCo, that was offering “superior experience and innovative features” (see the supermotivated founder) and sent over a 50 pages slide deck, in which the first 30 pages failed completely to even mention the product! Not a single word, not a line, not a slide on what it actually was, they intended to offer. WTF. On slide 31 we found something that was the closest we got to a product description, all the other slides were about business and structure, etc. We looked through the whole deck, twice. Then we gave up.
We know how hard it is to put all the thoughts, considerations, all that research into a slide deck, and we know that you are in love with your idea. But with every investor, you probably get those initial 30 minutes of attention, just because of the sheer number of pitches that everyone gets, and if you fail to communicate what you are doing within that deck, there is hardly any chance that this will be different in other cases. If you ever wondered why US angels and VCs preach the standard slide deck structure, the goal of this is a) to optimise workflows, b) to make sure all the information is in there that is needed and c) to reduce workload at your end in coming up with a perfect structure. Focus on the content and the way you want to communicate what you love. And please: don’t send us your business plan. It may be great, but sorry, we don’t read those until afterwe have met you in person.