PME Co-Founder, Jimmy Alexander

We got the opportunity to have a quick chat with PME co-founder, Jimmy Alexander. Since 1999 he has been an essential part of PME’s success. He had some insight to share about the program, entrepreneurship, the lessons he’s learned along the way, and what he anticipates for the future.

Q: PME has been around for quite some time now. Why did you believe it was necessary to start PME?

A: Back in the days of the potential referendum, or the potential loss of the referendum, PME was founded in order to help young Jewish people stay in Montreal. We went out and we asked a set of Jewish people what it would take for them to stay in the city. They all said job prospects and career opportunities. We figured, what better way to do that than to take on the Jewish adage “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” We wanted to give young people an opportunity to learn business. We wanted entrepreneurs and community leaders to have exponential growth within the community, and provide them with great potential.

Q: What has kept you motivated to continue after 18 years?

A: Our success! It’s so gratifying. I’ve participated in many community projects and, by far, the PME has been the most rewarding. Creating something from nothing, and enjoying the success we have, is for sure the motivation behind PME. It’s not just about the company’s we’ve funded. Just the mere fact that PME exists sparks people’s interest in starting businesses.

Q: What have been some of the highlights as part of the PME Committee? Do any moments stand out to you?

A: How we define success would be that more people who have been recipients of funding will eventually join our board, donate to PME and community and help us perpetuate the fund.  Over the years, that is exactly what has happened. Right now, we thankfully have about four previous PME recipients sit on the board. That is by far, the most outstanding highlight to me! In a way it’s like meeting your grandchildren or great grandchildren!

Q: What is it about a particular business that makes it deserving of PME funding?

A: I think it’s two things. One, is the credibility of the plan. At its base, the idea, and where it fits in the shelf is crucial. In other words, how it is positioned within the industry it wants to be in is very important. The second aspect is the entrepreneur. The tenacity of the individual, their charm, charisma, and how they can explain the profitability of their business is equally as important. If they can’t convince a group like ours, who is really pushing for them to be successful, how are they going to convince others?

Q: Where do you see PME 18 years from now?

A: First of all, from a self-serving point of view I’d like to see my children or Stephen’s participate in the PME program. That would be great. We also actually started the plan for PME 2.0. I’d really like to see that grow into the next stage of PME. It’s a whole different ballgame, but we have a good plan set in place, and so continuing to build it and figuring out different ways of helping entrepreneurs is the goal.

Q: What do you believe is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?

A: One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned, and taught many of our recipients, is that you show up day one with your plan and idea. However, you may have to adapt and change and deviate from what you originally set out to do. Making changes, while progressing is what keeps us successful. We’ve learned a lot, and more importantly, we’ve been very fortunate to have a very engaged board that has helped us along the way.

It is because of the dedication of community leaders like Jimmy Alexander that PME has seen great success. Starting and leading such a program comes with its set of challenges. However, with passionate people leading PME, the obstacles and challenges make for great lessons and brighter futures.

PME Co-Founder Jimmy Alexander

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How to Build a Perfect Pitch-Deck

When you see about 20 pitch decks a week over 15 years, you see A LOT of repeat mistakes. Many argue that there are different ways to create a pitch deck. This, however, is only half true. There is actually only one right way of building a pitch deck. Think about building a house. Every house needs a foundation, frame, walls, windows, paint, etc. A house can have its unique design and characteristics, but without the proper structure it can collapse. This too applies to your pitch deck. It’s all about the Story. Entrepreneurs often are confused by the term “Story”.  A story is not adding meaningless details, jokes or anecdotes.   Stories captivate, inspire and influence the audience you are pitching to. If done right it will get you closer to getting the deal you are hoping for.  For maximum impact, here are the slides you must have in your pitch deck.

The Introductory Slide:

Captivate your audience by introducing your company, explaining what you do and why you do it!

The Need:

The need is caused by the problem you are aiming to solve with your product. Essentially, the problem is the villain of your story. As seen in any superhero movie, the villain is a very complex and multifaceted character. The same goes for the problem you have identified. Here is where you, the entrepreneur, explain the gap/problem/challenge that must be solved. This is best told in a story. You can choose to tell your own story, that of a friend, family member, or the user persona. You can even frame your presentation in a way that permits for a story telling technique. Include a clear and concise problem statement.

The External Environment and Market Potential:

This slide is crucial for your deck. Basically, it explains, why you and why now. Going into detail about the external environment and market potential also includes some number crunching. The TAM (Total Addressable Markets), SAM (Segmented Addressable Markets) and SOM (Share of Market) will give an indication of the market size. Don’t forget to address the values of the markets, what was spent on similar solutions in previous years, etc.  Additionally, go over market trends among users that show a shift in behaviour. What is essential to highlight is that you’re working within a growing and profitable market!

Competitive analysis:

The goal here is to showcase your understanding of the market and its competitors. In order to do this in the best light you must highlight how you differentiate yourself from the competition. Visually, you can do so by preparing a quadrant or petal-diagram showing how you measure up to your competitors, listing them by name. More specifically, explain why you are better, what you understand that they don’t, what makes your product better, and what is your unfair advantage against them. Your differentiation statement will be the highlight.

The Solution:

Your solution is the “hero” of your story. For every quality your villain possesses, your hero embodies a counterpart. Not only does a hero come save the day, but it has also earned the trust and respect of a loyal group of people that rely on the hero. Describe how you are solving the issue with a simple solution sentence. A solution sentence should be formulated as such: we’re doing X (solving a problem), for Y (for a specific audience) by Z (what are you? A Platform/app/solution/tool, etc.). Don’t forget to mention your secret ingredient that is allowing you to do this. When showcasing your demo make sure to clearly portray the user experience, all relevant features, and what makes it beneficial to specific users. But remember, keep it simple!

The Business Model:

When presenting your business model the purpose is to describe your main revenue model (ex. Subscription, ads, affiliate, revenue share, etc.) Additional revenue streams should be mentioned as well. Describe the milestones you’ve reached in funding, product, users, revenue, growth, endorsements, partnerships, etc. If you haven’t reached any major milestones yet, that too is okay. Make sure to give a truthful depiction of where you are at, and use some metrics to help illustrate this.

Go-to-Market Plan:

You must showcase the strategies that will allow you to penetrate the market and gain users. More specifically, if you are a dealing with different consumer groups you must indicate the different channels you plan to use to acquire each customer. Specify the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) for all. Even though you might not have money at the start, you may have plans of putting together a sales team, establish strategic partnerships, distribution channels, content market and social campaigns. Makes sure to vocalize all of these elements.

Moving forward:

Here is where you get to the aftermath, hoping your hero is triumphant. You present a short-term and long-term plan for your business moving forward. Any exciting additional features or products in that you intend to explore? Plan on using new revenue streams? This is where you showcase the bigger vision you have for your business! Don’t forget to present your KPIs.

Roadmap and Round Objectives:

When going over your funding requirements, list the main allocations such as R&D, Sales and Marketing, Team Expansion, etc. Your “round objective” should indicate where you wish to be when you get to the next round of funding (for example: this will take us X months and X users/revenue/downloads, to breakeven and have positive cash flow).

The Team:

The Conclusion:

 

Whether your presentation has many, or very little slides is not of importance. Some superhero get one movie, while others get numerous sequels. This does not make one better than the other. What is important is that you have communicated your ideas simply and efficiently. Utilizing storytelling, while also using the essential founding elements for a pitch deck is the only way of getting the investor interested.

 

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