Raising Capital: How To Prepare The Perfect Pitch

I’ve sat on both sides of the table countless times in the fundraising process. I’ve seen some great pitches and I’ve seen some terrible ones. My highlight was doing a pitch to a venture firm in Steve Jobs old boardroom in Cupertino. One thing is constant in the world of pitching – everyone has an opinion on what makes the perfect pitch.

The guys at Incubate are hard at work preparing for their Demo Day later this month and my recommendation to them and to anyone else getting ready to pitch is to watch this video by Nathan Gold. He walks through a solid, yet simple deck of slides and gives great advice on how to pitch as well:

 

 

Here is the deck of slides Nathan refers to:

 

 

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Startup Motivation and the Triple-Helix of Entrepreneurial Success

Yesterday was ground zero for the eight teams selected to participate in the Summer 2012 intake of Incubate, the student incubator at The University of Sydney.

I will be Entrepreneur Coach to the teams for the duration of the program. I got to spend some time with them at lunch time and I shared with them my thoughts on the what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and building a meaningful startup. My talk was predicated on my Triple-Helix of Entrepreneurial Success thesis.

I used the analogy of a space shuttle (a rocket doesn’t quite work because it breaks up into various parts and only the top module re-enters the atmosphere). The key motivators, the WHY, is represented by the engine of the shuttle and these are what drive the individuals and the team to take on the challenge of building a new business. When things go pear-shaped, when they are having those inevitable moments of doubt, that is when they should draw on their motivations, which will help them build resilience.

The shuttle’s fuel consist of the core ingredients needed for any startup to be a success – capability, team, market, need and finances. These are what keep the shuttle powering ahead and it is important to achieve the right mix of ingredients to ensure the engine works efficiently and effectively.

The real differentiator is the triple-helix – the operating system of the space shuttle. This is what can put a startup on the path to success. Having all three parts of the helix at work: FOCUS, ACCOUNTABILITY & BALANCE, will ensure the shuttle has an optimized journey and successfully achieves its mission.

Later on in the day I spent a few hours one on one with the teams and was excited to see them working through a range of the inevitable startup decision points already.

Congrats to the teams and I wish them all the best for the summer.

The teams are:

WeSit: A high-tech version of the Babysitters Club that connects a trusted networks of parents with babysitters.

TheBestDay: The Best Day is a social planning tool for the web and phone that makes it easy for a group to agree on a time and place for an activity.

VIC: We have designed a robotic kit that is controlled through common interfaces that we believe will revolutionise the toy market in Australia

Muro: Muro is a context-based photography platform that allows people at the same event to connect with each other through image sharing.

SnapDisco: We’ve built a visual search engine for shoes — shoppers find local stores selling their perfect shoe, businesses pay for analytics.

Don’t Panic Watch co: A watch that watches you. An automatic panic button built into a watch to detect medical emergencies such as falls and heart attacks.

Feedback: Our startup is a smartphone application that allows users to raise money for charity by completing market research surveys on the go

CloudHerd: CloudHerd will be a business that offers value for livestock sellers and producers by providing advanced inventorying systems and auctions that interface with current legal requirements, such as the NLIS in Australia. It will provide the in depth features necessary to move a lot of the inspections and other typical livestock transaction business tasks online.

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ASIC Pours Cold Water On Crowdfunding

Australia faces a particularly acute dilemma. Entrepreneurial fervour is at its zenith. However, sources of funding for such activities remain in short supply.

In other parts of the world, solutions are being found. Crowdfunding is performing a critical role in democratising funding for interesting, creative products that may have had difficulty getting off the ground through more traditional forms of financing such as bank loans, angels or venture capital. The United States is embracing this by passing legislation to empower such activities.

But in Australia what do the regulators do? They issue a warning that crowdfunding could lead to fines and jail time?

Brilliant marketing move! If crowdfunding wasn’t already on every Australia entrepreneur’s mind before, it sure is now.

Entrepreneur’s Rule Numero Uno: Value First

In a wide ranging interview with Kevin Rose, Silicon Valley venture guy Chris Sacca unveils how he became so well connected into the Valley’s machinery.

The video is an hour long, but it contains some real nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom.

The part that resonates most for me is when he talks about creating value, before you ask for value back. That for me is the number one rule for entrepreneurs: VALUE FIRST!

Chris continues this meme, “If you are insightful and helpful, people will gravitate to you.”

 

 

Foundation 07 // Chris Sacca from Kevin Rose on Vimeo.

Y Combinator: Accelerating Start Ups, Recursively

Over a decade ago, back in the day of the initial tech bubble, I ran an early precursor to Y Combinator. In a similar vein we took on board nascent start ups in batches, with little more than an idea, and actively worked with the entrepreneurs to progress to the point where they were able to attract further investment from us and other investors.

And so I’ve been watching very closely over the years as Paul Graham has tweaked the Y Combinator model. There have been two excellent touch points recently for those of you interested in what YC does, how they choose which startups to work with and their model for success:

1. A comprehensive article in Wired – Y Combinator Is Boot Camp for Startups; and

2. Charlie Rose interviewing PG at TechCrunch Disrupt – see below.

One of the most amazing points PG makes in the interview is that the total value of YC companies is now around $3 billion. This is off the back of YC having invested a total of around $5 million. Now that is excellent validation for the model!

 

Top Five Angel Insights From An Entrepreneur in Residence at AngelLoft

The following is a guest post from Pete Sanders, the CEO of BrixHQ and an Entrepreneur in Residence at AngelLoft:

In March we were privileged to be accepted into the AngelLoft  Entrepreneur in Residence program. In summary, AngelLoft’s mission is to provide angel investors and entrepreneurs with the ideal environment within which to have a meeting of the minds. The group is based in Sydney and is open, by invitation, to angel members and entrepreneur pitches from anywhere in the world.

We’re ecstatic to part of AngelLoft and the Entrepreneur in Residence program.

We attended our first Angel Loft dinner in late March and introduced ourselves and BrixHQ to the group which included a seriously impressive range of angels and other entrepreneurs.

The evening was a fantastic opportunity to meet the angels, understand their backgrounds and start to build a relationship with some of the angels, even if only for feedback at this early stage. The feedback and comments that we’ve received from a range of angels & VC’s that we’ve spoken to since the first dinner include the following;

* Who are you competitors?

* How are you different to your competitors?

* What’s your business model (i.e. how do you make money)?

* How are you currently funded? and so on.

There are always two sides to these conversations however and some of the key questions that we’ve sought to understand from the angels are;

*What types of businesses do you typically invest in?

* What are the key things you look for when you are considering investing in a business?

* Do you have any feedback or comments for us?

The first question is crucial, it is important to firstly qualify what sort of businesses the angels are interested in. Plus, if you are time poor and want to have a meaningful conversation and future relationship then it is best to get off on the right foot or you can be wasting everyones time.

From our experience the top 5 key things angels are looking to invest in are;

1. a solid business idea that is being executed on,

2. the business has to be scalable (i.e. how big can it become?),

3. revenue – the business has to be on the right trajectory with revenue and growth, it’s great to have a lot of customers but if you dont have revenue then you don’t have a business.

4. management team – who are they, what experience do they have and have they done this before.

5. how long can you keep funding yourself through current funding sources.

The great thing about angels is that they will have feedback and comments for you, it might just be that it’s not for them and they’ll explain why or give specific comments or advice or direction that can help to move your business forward.

There’s nothing new or different in these 5 points above, but all serve as a fantastic litmus test for any business which is in start up mode or looking to raise funding in the future.

Also know your business intimately, be able to speak at a high level about your vision and your market, but be prepared to dive deep into the detail when appropriate.