By Dr. Wesley Carter
Cathy, CEO of CK Inventions, LLC, tugged at her sleeve and checked her watch for the tenth time in five minutes. Kyle, her business partner and COO, glanced at the closed conference room door and willed it to open. Dave, the team’s numbers man, patted his pocket to confirm that he had remembered to bring extra batteries for his calculator. As Cathy leaned over to whisper in Kyle’s ear, the door opened and the team was invited into the room.
They were invited to plug their thumb drive into the laptop sitting on the conference room table. While Dave opened the presentation, Cathy made the rounds and introduced herself to the Angel investors sitting around the table. Kyle stacked the hardcopies of the presentation on the table and ceremoniously placed the team’s invention in the middle of the table with a black drape covering it.
Raising capital can be a daunting task. Entrepreneurs frequently call on an angel, aka high net worth investor, for infusions of funds to start enterprises or to expand existing businesses. Angel investors are individuals willing to part with a portion of their net worth in exchange for a higher return.
According to the law of primacy, first impressions are powerful. Cathy, Kyle, and Dave did their homework and walked into the room ready to sell their invention. Recognizing that investors evaluate hundreds of pitches, the team prepared a compelling, memorable, and financially sound story. Cathy introduced the team and launched the presentation. She convincingly painted a picture that enabled the investors to make the connection between the loss of life of U.S. military troops due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and how CK Inventions was the appropriate response. The pitch resonated with the Angel investor who had served two consecutive tours in Afghanistan.
Cathy, a retired civil engineer with 22 years of active duty, explained how the CK Inventions team had served together and kept their commitment to identify a tool to reduce the threat of IEDs to troops on foot patrol. She described the unique skill set of Kyle, a computer engineer, and Dave, an accountant.
Cathy provided a brief overview and introduced the agenda, Kyle provided the core ideas in the middle of the presentation, and Dave closed with the financials and a recap of the key points. Dave had the forethought to include a 1-page synopsis of the terms of the investment required; 1) how the money would be used, 2) terms and conditions, 3) success metrics, and 4) payout schedule.
Presentations designed to pitch a business idea must impress and convince investors to allocate their money to a particular business venture. The slide master should be configured to include the company’s logo on each page. The presentation should be no less than 10 pages, but no more than 20 slides. An appendix can include more detailed information.
Presenters should plan to spend from 90 seconds to three minutes presenting each slide. A common mistake of amateur presenters is to inundate the audience with too many words. Each slide should include three to five bullet points per page, with no more than 5-7 word phrases per bullet. Pictures and images should be used if, and only if, they convey a point and invoke an emotional response in the investors.
Nothing is more detrimental to a pitch than the lack of knowledge of industry trends in a chosen field. Angel investors leverage industry trends to validate sales projections and operating costs. The pitch team must be familiar with industry trends to increase their credibility and demonstrate that they are serious and committed to the business concept.
Investors are data driven. Current financial standing, as well as, financial projections for at least three years must be included in a pitch presentation. Financial data should be checked, and rechecked, to ensure accuracy. Though it may be tempting to dream of hitting it out of the park on the first try, grandiose projections have no place in a pitch. Projections should be realistic and honest. Milestones should be quantified and included in the key metrics used to drive revenue and gross margins.
CK Inventions had anticipated the possibility of negotiations and established a walk away figure before they entered the room. In case the investors chose to completely forego investing in CK Inventions, the team was prepared to ask for referrals. Pitching to Angel investors is a numbers game. Cathy and Kyle knew the more they pitched the idea, the more succinct their pitch would become.
Cathy reached over and pulled the drape from the CK Robot and demonstrated the degree of cutting-edge artificial intelligence built into the IED finder. Kyle noticed that the investors were sitting on the edge of their seat. It was obvious that the team’s hard work had paid off.
WESLEY CARTER DM, authors an advice column that leverages leadership and management strategies to solve common business problems. Carter holds a Doctor of Management (DM) degree with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership, an MBA, and a B.A. in Management. Carter is a partner at KRS Consulting, LLC in Charlotte, NC. If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions become the property of Wesley Carter. Call (704) 992-1211 or email to book an engagement.