Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power, and Magic in it. Begin it Now! (Goethe)

I do not think that there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything. (Nikola Tesla)

How to start a startup: #9 - How to raise money


Marc Andreessen, Founder of Andreessen Horowitz,
Ron Conway, Founder of SV Angel, and
Parker Conrad, Founder of Zenefits,
take Q&A on the topic of How to Raise Money, in lecture 9 of How to Start a Startup.

Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFX95HahaUs




Pitch Deck Why



I see a lot of pitch decks. Most of them are awful. Seriously awful. The good news is that they can all be fixed.

What is fascinating to me is that the quality of the decks has not improved over time generally. How to create a pitch deck for startup investors is certainly a topic that is easily researched and documented on the web. There is no need to re-invent this even if you think you know better, or that your business is an exception. 

There are no exceptions. In that first presentation ("pitch"), you want to follow all the rules. If you want the soup, you gotta follow the soup-Nazi rules, or "No soup for you!"



Every once in a while I get the chance to review the elements of a good pitch deck with a friend. Recently, a very charismatic and successful entrepreneur who I have known for many years came to me with his new business pitch. In his long and storied career, this is the first time he is looking for investment. So he came to me for some advice and included 12 pages of typed documentation, no graphics. He said he figured I didn't want to read the entire 200 pages that he had, so he only sent me 12.

I thought that very considerate of him, and told him so in my reply which was essentially TL;DR.
Included in my reply were helpful links to resources that would give him the best advice on how to do a pitch deck for investors.

His next email had a pitch deck that was 29 slides long. Yikes! This guy is a friend, so I want to be gentle, so here's my reply to him. A lot of resources tell you WHAT to do but they don't explain WHY, so I thought I would do that in my reply and share it with you:

you are moving in the right direction.

cut out even more, and get it down to 10-12 slides.
seriously.

here's the point:
the longer it takes to explain it,
the more complicated it sounds,
and the more complicated it sounds,
the more you lose them.

another reason it should be short
is because investors have to listen to lots of them,
and they don't want to waste any more time than necessary
on something that they know early on that they don't want to invest in.

they will know very early on, usually within about 2 minutes or less,
whether they are interested in YOU (first), and
your business (second),
and if they aren't, the rest of the 8 minutes of your 10 minute pitch...
well, that's just the investor being nice enough to continue 
to the point where he can cut you off and say that it's just not the kind of deal he does.

review that last email I sent you with the attachment about what should be in the slides
and the link that shows a video about an ideal presentation deck.

keep it short.
you can not get the money after 1 presentation.
the purpose of the presentation is to get them interested enough to take the next step.
what is the next step?
  usually, the next step is to want to know more.
  that's in another meeting, or with additional slides that you have with you, or that you have in reserve, but you do not want to present all the slides, tell all the story, in the initial presentation ("pitch").

pretend you are pitching them like you would some pretty girl who suddenly sits next to you at the bar.
you surely are not going to score on the spot, but you would like it to be as soon as possible.
if you take too much time getting out your story, she will lose interest and move on.
the next move will be up to her, so the best you can hope for is another meeting.

how are you coming with answering these questions that will be posed to you:
 these questions that angels will have are not answered:
     a. barriers to entry?  (competitors, now and future) patents?
     b. financial projections are unclear, need details
     c. do you have working prototype software, now, that you can demo?
     d. what % of the company does the 500k get them?

this whole process of entrepreneurs pitching to investors has progressed quickly over the past few years. it has reached the point now where the "best practices" are known and expected to be followed. the information on how to do these things is out there on the internet, and you are wise to research, know, and execute the process in the accepted ways, all in YOUR best interest so that you get what you want.

that's my best thinking so far.
i'm always enthusiastic about talking with you, 
so let's set up a phone call when you want.

How to start a startup: #8 - How to Get Started, Doing Things That Don't Scale, Press


Three different topics, 3 speakers:

Stanley Tang, Founder of Doordash, covers How to Get Started.
Walker Williams, Founder of Teespring, covers Doing things that Don't Scale.
Justin Kan, Founder of TwitchTV and Partner at Y Combinator, covers Press.

Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQOC-qy-GDY#t=378

Here's a new product idea: A quality rating for video talks, one of the features of which counts the number of times the speaker says "um, like, you know..." and other filler words that really detract from the overall quality.  (check the last speaker, and see if you agree)

Vision without execution is hallucination.



"Vision without execution is hallucination".   (Thomas Edison)

Quoted by Walter Isaacson, author of biographies of Steve Jobs, Franklin, Einstein.
Last night, on The Colbert Report.

How to start a startup: #6 - Growth



Alex Schultz, VP of Growth, Facebook leads this class on how to grow your startup. Well done, excellent presentation.  

Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_yHZ_vKjno


Optimum startup CEO work week?

In search of the Optimum Startup CEO Week.  Each day of the week has a unique theme.  Following the outline will make sure the important things are addressed.  The startup week begins on Saturday, when the normal work week is over. The brain work takes place on the weekends, when it is not interrupted by real world events during the week.  The five days of the normal work week are all about Doing: taking Action, according to the plan.  How would you make this better?




Saturday: Think
     Emotion ignites startup creation. Reason takes chaos and optimizes the path from thought to reward. Objectivity is as essential as passion. Think big, start small. The first mistake is to think too little, the second is to think too much. 

Sunday: Plan
     Write your thoughts for clarity. Define the big Why, the strategy, and how to keep score.  Determine who does what, by when, for how much. Document checklists, key performance indicators. timelines and responsibilities.

Monday: Focus
     Limited resources require limited objectives. Prioritize. Concentrate on the top two. Deny shiny objects to give energy to essentials. Make management your competitive advantage. Delegate.

Tuesday: Recruit
     Share the dream to build a 5-star core team, top down: Board of Advisors first. Hire slow, fire fast. Reward superior performance. Always be recruiting.

Wednesday: Sell
     Cash is the lifeblood of the business. Sales solve all problems. Sell value to customers or sell equity to investors. Sell the mission to all. Create, maintain, improve and expand your selling systems.

Thursday: Build
     Expand methodically from a balanced business. Create systems for repeatable success. Create products based on customer feedback. "Do it, Document it, Delegate it." Build a strong body and peaceful mind to endure the journey.

Friday: Test
     Continuous improvement requires continuous experimentation. Feedback is the raw material to build your business. Everything is a prototype. Do good now, make it better later.


(Repeat.  Consistent rhythm creates predictable results.)

How to start a startup: #5 - Competition is for losers (re: the joy of monopoly)


This is an excellent lesson in strategy from Peter Thiel, a true contrarian who has made excellent
investments in startups. First outside investor in facebook!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_0dVHMpJlo

All the time I'm watching Peter Thiel give his lesson to the Stanford class, I'm thinking how much he reminds me of Mark Zuckerberg and how their mannerisms are so Asbergerly similar. Thiel saw himself in Zuckerberg, he had to invest. These two are kindred spirits.

As smart as Peter Thiel is, there was no joy in his talk to this class. He was uncomfortable during the entire performance. But what he says is good stuff.


How to start a startup: #4 - Building Product, Talking to Users, and Growing


The 4th in the series "How to start a startup" class given at Stanford. These are not professional speakers; more importantly they are people who have actually done startups. These lessons are well earned.

Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP176MBG9Tk


Tell your Story

After a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories.

Only 5% remember statistics.

Tell your story!



And, while we are on the subject of Story, get this book and sell lots more.

System for Startup Success

Think - Plan - Do - Repeat




System for Startup Success

Think    
     Emotion flames startup creation. Reason takes chaos and optimizes the path from thought to reward. Objectivity is as essential as passion. Think big, start small. The first mistake is to think too little, the second is to think too much.

Plan
     Write your thoughts for clarity. Define the big why, the strategy, who does what, by when, for how much. Include checklists, key performance indicators. timelines and responsibilities. 

Do
     Ideas gain value only by action. Execute the plan as it is written. Measure the results of actions and practice continuous improvement. See the Startup Action Checklist.

Repeat
     Consistent rhythm creates predictable results. Accelerate the process.





Startup CEO Action Checklist

Inline image 3  Focus - Limited resources require limited objectives. Prioritize. Concentrate on the top two. Deny shiny objects to give energy to essentials. Make managing a competitive advantage. Delegate.

Inline image 3  Recruit - Share the dream to build a 5-star core team, top down: board of advisors first. Hire slow, fire fast. Reward superior performance. Always be recruiting. Leverage is the startup spinach.

Inline image 3  Sell - Cash is the life blood of the business. Sales solve all problems. Sell value to customers or sell equity to investors. Sell the mission to all. Create, maintain, improve and expand your selling systems. 

Inline image 3  Build - Expand methodically from a balanced business. Create products based on customer feedback. "Do it, Document it, Delegate it." Build a strong body and peaceful mind to endure the journey.

Inline image 3  Test - Continuous improvement requires continuous experimentation. Feedback is the raw material to build your business. Everything is a prototype. Do good now, make it better later.





How to give the perfect PowerPoint pitch to VCs


By David Rose, serial entrepreneur, investor, and prolific Quoran, in a TED talk entitled Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Pitch a VC.

Fast paced, and right on the money.  Enjoy, Learn, Prosper!  Link to YouTube video.




Click here for the entire Q/A thread on Quora.

What VCs are looking for in the entrepreneur:
  1.  Integrity
  2.  Passion
  3.  Experience
  4.  Knowledge
  5.  Skill
  6.  Leadership
  7.  Commitment
  8.  Vision
  9.  Realism
10.  Coachability

Plus:
1.  Logical Progression
2.  Things the VC knows or understands
3.  Validators

Minus:
1.  Things VC knows are not true
2.  Things VC doesn't understand
3.  Things that make VC think
4.  Internal inconsistencies
5.  Typos, errors, unpreparedness

Good:
Short, short bullet points

Better:
Just the headline

Best:
Only images

The slides:
  1.  Company Logo
  2.  Business Overview
  3.  Management Team
  4.  Market
  5.  Product
  6.  Business Model
  7.  Strategic Relationships
  9.  Competition
 10.  Barriers to Entry
 11.  Financial Overview
 12.  Use of Proceeds
 13.  Capital and Valuation

Top tips:
1.  Don't look at the slides; make emotional connection with the audience
2.  Use a remote control
3.  Always use presenter mode
4.  Handouts are NOT your presentation
5.  Don't read your talk

The Optimist Creed

The founders of a startup need to keep it positive, at all times:



The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

How to start a startup: #2 - Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part II



The second in a free series by Y Combinator, presented at Stanford.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVfnkM44Urs



Zero to One, by Peter Thiel


For those of us interested in startups, either doing one, or investing in them, this new book is a most excellent read. Highly recommend. Peter Thiel is a PayPal founder, early investor in Facebook, founder of Palantir, and a very intelligent contrarian. Lots to learn here.

Click on the book cover photo above to order from Amazon.com