Put the Wow up Front!

Posted by on March 15, 2006 at 10:42 am.

Hackoff.com author and serial entrepreneur Tom Evslin has been posting a nice VC Primer from an Entrepreneur’s POV. He is on target with most of his thoughts and his recent post regarding VC presentations is a good read. Guy has also chimed in on VC presentations, such as his 10/20/30 rule. Although I have a host of thoughts/posts for that topic, I’ll share one right now that is near the top of my list: Put the Wow up Front!

It’s sad to say, but when a VC, or better yet, the whole partnership settles down to hear your 30 minute pitch, you have about 5 minutes to win or lose the whole battle. This is Presentation 101 to investors, customers, partners, management talent, but I’ve seen it especially pronounced in VC meetings. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing more than a thousand in-person entrepreneur presentations either solo or with my partners and have come to this conclusion: You create either excitement/curiosity or skepticism/boredom in those first 5 minutes and your audience spends the rest of your presentation justifying that initial impression.

I’ll go ahead and say for you “that sucks” and “how dare those arrogant VCs judge my baby in 5 minutes”, but it’s a message worth remembering. I’ve been on both sides of the table and try to remember this phenomenon so I might find opportunities the arrogant bastards miss. That said, I coach my portfolio CEOs to “Put the Wow up Front” (and revisit it throughout) because if that won’t get investor greed glands going, describing your company mission statement, history and round expectations sure as hell won’t.

Of course, the Wow for each company can be different. For one company, the serial entrepreneur team that has 3 big exits under their belt may be the key. For another, the bulging customer pipeline and revenue traction may be it. Whatever it is, say it early and with enthusiasm or you just might glimpse a partner texting someone to call his cell in 60 seconds…

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