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July 24, 2011

Learn to Give a Venture Capital Presentation Convincingly

A presentation given to a venture capitalist will resemble the presentations you would make to corporate or business partners. You have three goals for this presentation – highlighting your venture’s key points, answering every question expertly, and creating excitement in the venture capitalist about your business concept.

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Keeping your presentation concise and on-point is essential. The venture capitalist hearing your presentation probably sits through several similar presentations every day, making it difficult for that person to keep track of all the details you’ll present during the 20 or 30 minutes you’re allotted. Ideally, the following ten points will be covered in your presentation:

1. your company’s services or products
2. the current status of your company
3. what makes your company unique (key points only)
4. the problem or need your idea solves
5. the market or markets in which your company is operating
6. your means of generating income
7. your competitors
8. the members of your management team
9. your timeline, milestones and roll-out plans
10. the funding you’re asking for.

Remember that you’re attempting to capture the venture capitalist’s interest in your company and idea. Your first meeting is not the appropriate time or place to try to close the deal. The venture capitalist will invite you back for additional presentations with the other partners in the VC firm if he or she is interested.

Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of overselling their companies during the initial presentation. Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki says that it’s common for entrepreneurs to claim they have a “proven business model,” a “proven management team,” “patent-pending technology” and a “first mover advantage” in the market. He also says the entrepreneurs who use those terms are, in essence, lying. Here are his exact words: “Oh god, it gives me a migraine just thinking about those things.”

Instead of overselling, concentrate on how you’ll satisfy the venture capitalist’s needs, which primarily boil down to making money. Show the venture capitalist how your business will do that, and support your statements with primary or secondary data.

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You should also be prepared to address any questions the venture capitalist might ask about your company. You’ll need to be intimately familiar with your company’s financial model and have a detailed plan for growing your business into a profitable venture over time. Understand why your company needs money and what it will be spent on. Be passionate about your business and possess the ability to demonstrate and discuss every last detail relating to it.

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