The most essential 5 minutes in the life of an entrepreneur

When you decide to look for more funds, you might think that connecting to relevant potential investors and scheduling the meeting is the most difficult part: “Just give me an opportunity to present them my extraordinary product, and they will fall in love and open their wallets.” But you will be surprised that scheduling meetings is nothing in comparison to gaining true attention and interest to your business. When you’re already in a room with investors, you will find out that many of them will barely pay attention to you and your business case.

It is a common mistake to think that if you have secured a 60-minute meeting, it also means that you have 60 minutes of attention.

The typical attention span looks as follows:

The challenge is to change that span. You only have 5 minutes to make an impression that will secure the investors’ attention for the next 15 minutes, which, if used correctly, will gain you an additional 30 minutes.

Therefore, the first slides of your presentation are essential to your 5-minute pitch:

  1. Innovation – what differentiates your company from other players in the industry. Which problems you resolve that others can’t, where lies an opportunity for income, and what is your unique value proposition.
  2. What is your magic in a single clear sentence, explaining how your company capitalizes on its innovative approach? The main failure of beginner entrepreneurs is speaking for half an hour without clearly explaining that very important point.

Use less text on that slide and more visuals of your solution. A link to a short video could be great. Note: now it’s the time to mention your unique patents and/or technology, as well as the products which are currently in the pipeline.

  1. Fast facts and key metrics of your business. When were you founded, how many employees, what stage of development/market share, how much funding do you seek.

At this point, your first 5 minutes are almost up, and you have just a few quick moments to run through a slide describing the agenda of the rest of the presentation.

Afterwards, stop! Do not to dive into your story yet! Check your audience’s understanding and concerns which you can address during the remaining time of the presentation. This will also keep them actively listening to you.

There are many ways to tell your story, and they can be good as long as you feel authentic and excited with your storytelling, but you should remember several points which must be addressed:

  1. “Pain” – be very clear about the problem which you are solving! Your investors should clearly understand that there is a problem and there is a demand for a solution. You must share your unique vision as of the best “cure” to the “pain”.
  2. A demo is worth a thousand words – while presenting a solution, show a demo video or make a live demo. In the worst case, use step by step photos or graphics. It must be interactive, rather than just theoretical.
  3. Market size – in most cases you won’t have precise data, but the good news is that you don’t always need to invest money in expensive market researches at this stage of fundraising. Show your history with numbers depicting your growth – reaching new customers, increasing the sales volume, penetrating into new geographies, entering into new market segments via new applications of your product. It is also a chance to cover a pricing/revenue model. The biggest mistake would be to show huge numbers from an external market study without any explanation behind these numbers and how are they linked to your business.
  4. Competition – you should not hide any data from your investors. They will find it out later, and you will lose your credibility. Besides, this it is your chance to differentiate yourself from your major competitors.
  5. Team – remember, business is personal! Investors want to know that they can trust people who will get their money. Here is an opportunity to highlight the professional and personal strengths of your co-founders, management staff and people who are involved in R&D and business development.
  6. Financials – keep it simple. Just show how you will invest the money (e.g. head counts, new offices, etc.) and what revenue is expected within a certain time period. 3 years’ bottom-up forecast.

Try to keep the presentation short and simple!

Guy Kawasaki, the famous chief evangelist of Apple, believes that a 10-slide presentation is optimal. Use less text on the slides and more visuals. The slides are your scene, and you are the actor telling the story. You can write your text in the notes section, to ensure that you flow with the storyline during the meeting. But guess what – the more authentic and more excited you feel with your business story, the less you need the notes and text on the slides, and the more attention you will get from your audience. Nevertheless, do not neglect the preparation stage – practice as much as possible before the meeting, never mind if it’s in front of your colleague or a mirror.

Try to run through the presentation within half an hour and ensure that you leave enough time for Q&A and an open discussion afterward. Business is a dialogue, and you need to make sure that your investors are actively listening and actively involved in this dialogue in order to get the best outcome. It is not only about getting the money – your investors’ expertise and brainstorming may create new development directions in which they will be happy to invest their capital.

Last but not least, your presentation should be linked to the life cycle of your company. Essential content differences should be taken into consideration at every particular stage. But this is a topic for another post.

Good luck and remember – ExJuvant has an experience supporting innovative ventures and business in the fundraising process. We would be more than happy to assist you with any aspect of fundraising for your company.

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