Why who, what and how eat awards for breakfast

I don’t care about how many media articles your PR campaign has generated. I don’t care about the $335B global digital advertising market in 2020 when you’re building “Facebook for cats”. And I couldn’t care less about what awards or grants you have been awarded, the aggregated number of downloads of your iOS app or that it has been ranked #5 in the Swedish app store’s productivity category. Those are vanity metrics, at best.

From Digitalist Magazine.

In fact, if those numbers are the core of your pitch, I will most likely lose interest quickly and my mental checkbox for “team quality” will remain unchecked.

How to prepare

What I do care about, however, is why you and your co-founders are crazy enough to spend the foreseeable future building this new company, and why you are the best possible team to do it. Focus on why, who, what, how, and of course the relevant metrics.

Below is a long-list of topics I often use when trying to understand a business. It’s not intended as a list of pages in a pitch deck, but rather as a cheat sheet for making sure you haven’t forgotten anything important.

Of course all companies are different and not all questions are relevant for all startups. On the other hand, I think this summary gives a decent overview of the topics to be prepared to discuss when pitching investors.

  1. Background
  2. Company purpose/vision
  3. Team
    - Founders
    - Others
    - Advisors
  4. Problem
    - Customer pain
    - How customers solve it today
  5. Solution/product
    - Value proposition/use cases
    - Demo
    - Roadmap
  6. Why now
    - How space has developed/recent trends
    - What the world will look like in the future
  7. Market size
    - Customer profile
    - TAM, SAM, SOM (both top-down and bottom-up)
    - Now, in 5 years, in 30 years
  8. Competition
    - List of competitors
    - Competitive advantages
    - Defensibility
  9. Business model
    - Revenue model
    - CAC
    - CLTV
  10. Go-to-market
    - Sales model
    - Marketing strategy
  11. Status
    - Traction
    - Current customers
    - Next steps
  12. Financials
    - Monthly revenue
    - Burn rate
    - Founders’ salaries
    - Runway
  13. Investment
    - How the money will be used
    - Previous investments rounds
    - Cap table
    - How we can help
    - Proposed deal

This list is based on an old version of Sequoia’s Writing a business plan.