How to Create an E-Mail Slide Deck for an Investor

PME Blogposts 2016 E-Mail communication and etiquette is an integral part of business practicality. As an entrepreneur you will have many slide decks to prepare and send by e-mail prior to an in-person meeting with investors. Though you may find the information in your numerous slide decks redundant and contemplate one deck for all occasions, don’t. While it may take more time to customize your slide decks, keep in mind that your potential investors will want information catered to their needs and interests at a given time. When sending a slide deck by e-mail to spark an investor’s interest, a few rules of thumb apply. Be concise, skimmable and to-the-point.

Here is how you should consider structuring your concise, skimmable and to the point slide deck:

  1. Problem Identification

At the very beginning the investor should know what the problem is. The way you articulate your problem is key. It should be specific, clear and easily comprehensible. This section should be building momentum for the introduction of your product or service as the solution.

Ex: Overweight people-66.7% of the US population refuse to step on the scale because their actual weight is too depressing, making it impossible to conceive how they can lose 20-40 pounds (the average an overweight American seeks to shed.) The issue is that voluntary weight loss without the feedback of a scale is essentially impossible.

  1. Solution/Your Product

Don’t attempt to complicate things by explaining all of your product’s features. Leave that to the slide deck for the in-person meeting. For an e-mail deck, focusing on the user experience is your best bet.

Ex: SOMA indexes the user’s starting weight at zero. It then simply records upward and downward movements of weight on a daily basis. Daily use of SOMA vs. regular scales is 87% vs. 14%.

  1. Team

If you have over five employees you do not have to introduce all of them. It is only important to mention the people heading the operations. Position, field of expertise, past accomplishments, alma mater (if applicable or useful) are what is necessary.

  1. Traction and Unit Economics

Even if you are in the early stages of your product development this section should be included. Your potential investor will not expect your business’s performance to be at par with that of a successful business, so there is not much to worry about in that aspect. What this section should do is show that people want your product. Areas you must address should be with regards to: the tested customer acquisition channels, the cost to acquire new customers, retention rate, customer engagement, etc. If you do not have much information you can provide some of your unit economics (How many customers you have, how much sign up per quarter, cost of goods sold, supplier, etc.)

  1. Market Size

The market you are competing in is one of the greatest influencers of an investor’s decision. Whether or not you are competing in a large or niche market can give the investor an idea of how much return they can expect from their investment. Market size, size of target market, and growth potential are the essentials.

  1. Competition

Even if you claim to be a first mover, you still have competition! Even if no one sells the same product mention potential substitutes or your indirect competition.

  1. Contact information

This is a given. Name, phone number with extension, and email, of all key business decision makers is to be included.

Your e-mail slide deck should not take more than two minutes for the investor to read! Aesthetically, ensure that your chosen colors are well selected and subtle.  Remember that this is only to get an investor’s attention and to book an in-person meeting, not for them to invest. The key here is to focus on the facts that will attract investors to you, don’t worry too much about elaboration. That comes later!

Angel Investors

Sometimes, big venture capital firms are not the answer to funding your start-up. A good alternative is angel investors.

Angel investors are usually wealthy individuals who want to invest in a start-up with their own money in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equality. Contrary to popular belief, angel investors are not that hard to find. Here are a few places where you can start your search:

  • Your personal network. An angel investor can be anyone with enough money to be able to believe and invest in your start-up. Ask your friends, family members, or other connections: maybe they happen to know such a person.
  • Attend events such as the International Start-Up Festival, where angel investors can often be found. The goal of these kinds of events is to facilitate the connection between entrepreneurs and angel investors. Make sure to print out some business cards and rehearse your elevator pitch!
  • Browse online directories to find angel investors near you. The biggest and most important directory of angel investors is AngelList. With the growth of the Internet, angel investors are now easy to find: check out some local sites like Anges Quebec, and connect with an investor you are interested in.

You may be wondering why you would want to trust an angel investor? Although they are individuals rather than firms or banks, angel investors do have their benefits:

  • If your Startup is not in the Tech industry, a VC investor will be hard to find. Angel investors however, tend to invest in many different verticals, so you can broaden your start-ups financial access.
  • The selection process and due diligence is done relatively fast, so you can expect your money to arrive quickly. Also, it will most likely arrive in one large payment, as opposed to meeting certain benchmarks for installments to be made.
  • Angels can be more accessible when larger firms: since you are dealing with an individual, it is easier to build a connection and see what they are interested in. Remember they can be living a block away from you!
  • Angel investors are more likely to take big risks: as they either have experience with entrepreneurship or have a personal relationship with you. They understand the implied risks and will not constrain you as much as financial institutions would.

Sounds like a good deal, right? However, despite their  benefits, angel investors also have disadvantages:

  • As they take a lot of risk and invest personal money, angel investors expect a very high rate of return, sometimes over 25%.
  • Since they are investing their own money into your start-up, angel investors will want to be kept informed of all of your company’s actions and decisions. You investor may also feel entitled and will want to take an active role in your start-up’s decision making process.
  • Your investor’s money is not a loan, so you don’t have to repay it. Although this could also be an advantage, it will lead you to lose money if your start-up is extremely successful. You will have to give your angel an equity for the deal, which could add up to a lot of money in the long run.

Angel investors are good alternative if you can’t, or simply don’t want to deal with big venture capital firms. However, make sure you pick your angel investor wisely, and consider all aspects and consequences of the deal before you make a decision. Remember that although angel investors seem like a sweet deal, it may lead you to losing money or losing control of your start-up in the long run. As always, do your research.

Tips for Getting Into PME

PME tips Accelerator

Tip 1: Apply early

We start reviewing applications on a rolling basis as soon as the application window opens. More than half of the applications come in on the last day. If you want us to spend more time on your application, get it in early. We get a lot of funding applications, so this is your chance to stand out. If you wait until the last minute, our review of your file will also be last-minute, and there will be no edits.

Tip 2: Put effort into your application and give as much detail as possible

The fact that we are a social business does not mean that we are not a serious program. Review your application before submitting it, and make sure it is complete. Don’t assume that you can submit a poor application with missing documents and then send us the rest in a few weeks.

Tip 3: Come prepared

You need to convey who you are, why your business is interesting, and be prepared for us to dig into everything from your unit economics and customer acquisition strategies to long-term plans and where you met your co-founders. Make sure you prepare your file and have all of the required documents when you come to your meeting. Arrive on time to your meeting with all the required documents, and be professional.

Tip 4: Research the program

Make sure that PME is right for you, and that you are right for PME. Know what our terms are, know how we work, and come prepared to tell us what you want from PME. Read about our selection criteria and about the requirements you need in order to be eligible. Do not apply if you did not read the criteria, or if you do not meet some of them: we will not make exceptions. Make contact with our funded entrepreneurs to find out how PME has worked for them, and see if you can benefit in the same way.

Tip 5: Tell us what you’ve learned

The most important skill you can have is the ability to adapt quickly. Tell us what you’ve learned. What were you wrong about? What’s your unfair advantage? Describe what you have done since the launch of your start-up, and what you have learned about the industry and entrepreneurship in general. Show us that you have grown as an entrepreneur, and explain to us why you are ready for funding.

Tip 6:Tell us your vision (why you are doing this?) and how you’ll grow

Where are your customers? How will you reach them? Tell us what you’ve done. Unscalable growth is fine (and reflects hustle), but ultimately we’ll need to see a path to scalability. Explain to us how you intend to grow, how you will market your product and sell it, how you will target new markets and expand your customer base, and how you will innovate and further develop your product. You need to convey a realistic long-term plan to make your business credible.

Tip 7: Make sure we understand your traction

You must be able to prove that your start-up is growing and has made significant progress so far. By providing factual growth evidence such as sales records, you are reducing the risk that comes with the investment, improving your chances of getting into PME. Traction can also be proved by the amount of active users, or the amount of views on your website. As we cannot simply fund ideas, you must be able to show that your business has already attracted customers and that your product can sell.

I hope this is helpful. We’re grateful for all the amazing companies we received applications from. Application is open NOW, so apply here. And good luck!

VC Funding 101

Your business idea is great, but you are still having trouble getting funded by a venture capital investors. When funding businesses, VCs look for certain characteristics, to ensure that they make a return and that they minimize their risk. Here are some of the criteria VC’s look for:

  • Market Size

One of the most important things that VCs consider is market size. If your business only has operational potential in a certain neighborhood, you will have trouble finding a VC: your idea needs to be global, or at least be a part of a massive addressable market. For example, if you own a local sushi shop, you will have trouble finding VC funding, as your idea does not address a global market for fish and rice.

  • Scalability

If your market size is large enough, the next thing to consider is the scalability of your business. Very often, VCs look for businesses that have a large growth potential. This means that once your product is developed, manufacturing should be relatively inexpensive and barriers for distribution should be minimal. If your product is cheap and can sell easily, you have more chances to attract VCs.

  • Time Horizon

You will need to show your investor that you will be able to grow your business substantially in a given number of years. Each investor has a different time criteria, but expects a good return after a given amount of time. This is why it’s crucial to have a good and well-founded understanding of your profit projections.

  • Team

Your team plays a crucial role in determining if you will get funded by a VC. Since your start-up is still in its early stages, chances are that your product and your market fit is less than perfect, and will have to adjust overtime based on customer needs and other different factors. Due to this uncertainty, VCs prefer to bet on the team rather than the start-up, as it is the factor that is the less likely to chance. Make sure your team is skilled, motivated, and willing to evolve with your start-up.

If your business does not meet these criteria, it does not mean it is wrong. You will simply have to look elsewhere for funding, as you will have a hard time with VCs. You can look for other kinds of investors or consider debt financing. Remember that not all VC firms are the same, and they all have different criteria and interests. VC funds are always picky about the start-ups they invest in, and you should be too. Before applying for a fund, do your research: find out what kind of start-ups the VC usually funds, what they are known for and how they can make your business grow. This will improve your chances of getting funded, and will help you find an investor that can truly be helpful for your start-up.

How to Approach a VC Firm

VC firms are a great way to help launch and finance your startup. If you are unsure about how to approach a VC firm, here are a few tips:

1) Find a connection/advocate
The best way to create initial contact with a VC firm is by getting an introduction. You can get referred by an entrepreneurship program such as ProMontreal Entrepreneurs, or simply be introduced by a friend or colleague.

2) Never send in your business plan
The VC firm will not read your 40-page business plan over email. Instead, once you’ve secured a meeting bring your pitch deck to the firm. If they want to know more about your business, that’s when bring out the business plan.

3) Don’t cold call, especially if you’re not ready
If you cold call a VC firm without having been introduced, you run the chances of a) not getting your call returned and b) your chances of getting a deal are close to zero. Furthermore, don’t rush to approach a VC: make sure you are ready. If your start-up is not ready and you make contact with the VC firm, you have missed your opportunity of the first impression and possibly ruined your chances of making a deal with this firm. Remember VC firms, get pitch ALL the time. Make your chance count!

4) Do your research
Yes, this point seems to appear in every single blog post, but research is important. Research the firm itself, to find out the services they offer and to make sure your start-up would be of interest to them. Furthermore, talk to companies that have already been financed by that firm in order to see what kind of experience they have had. Don’t blindly accept the first deal that comes your way. Make sure that the VC firm you approach has the connections you need to make your start-up grow.