Oct 28, 2010
Howard gwin

Getting it Done in Six Slides

I know what you are thinking about my headline: Six slides are all you need to tell the full story of a great company? No chance!

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You are probably right if you believe that no company presenting to investors, advisors and partners can tell a full story in six slides. I don’t believe that either. Regardless of the number of slides used, I do believe in the 80-20-80 rule I developed after listening to countless pitches over the past 29 years: spend 80 percent of the discussion on 20 percent of the points that drive 80 percent of the value.

(CEOs at Mentor Monday should feel free to present any slide-ware they are comfortable with.)

My two cents follows.

Ask yourselves the following six questions:

1) Where is the pain or the gain? Great technology companies solve big business problems. Does your solution solve what keeps operating executives up at night pondering: “How do I fix this or how do I gain from this?” Focus on market dynamics, facts, proof points and trends – whatever convinces the audience that your solution is necessary and there will be pull.

2) What is your solution? Keep it simple and focused. You want a collective light to go on immediately. If doing a short demo, go right to the meatiest, sexiest, most impactful functionality.

3) Why is your value proposition massively different from all others? Who are the others? What is their differentiation pitch?

4) What proof points do you have? References and hard ROI rule.

5) Who is the team that will execute the vision and what unique skills do they have?

6) What milestones have you accomplished (metrics) that prove traction and how does that translate into assumptions going forward? How should success be measured?

Yes, there is much more context and backup that can be presented, including more detailed financial overviews, etc. But I have come to learn that in presentations that really matter, the audience either gets it in the first 10 minutes or tunes out. This problem is even more prevalent in venture when you have a bunch of Type A, short-attention-span types, who are pitched to constantly.

So remember that less is best and presentation cannot be too simple, even for complex technologies. The content on the slides (more graphics, less words) are guideposts. The leverage comes from your dialogue. Passion is not slide-ware. The details should be saved for the drill-down that will come once you set the hook.

Whether you have six or 16 slides, I don’t care. Proving a differentiated value proposition and an ability to execute are incredibly important. I am in the camp that believes the best product does not always win. Great outcomes require great execution. Facebook and Zynga are execution machines – not just viral apps and games.

A smart guy in venture gave me some advice when I came over to the venture “dark side.” I asked him how he knew whether a company was investable or not. His answer was simple. He left the first meeting with a CEO and had the urge to immediately phone his partners, telling them: “We have got to do this deal.”

Given the tough environment out there to get funded, companies that create this powerful reaction are the real competition. We all need to take our game to the next level up.

Thanks for the read and see you at Mentor Monday!

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