November 17, 2005

Why your Business Plan should just be a PowerPoint

David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners has some great advice on why Business Plans – at least those presented to VCs – should be in PowerPoint format. He also has some nice tips on what the slides should talk about. There is also a nice discussion happening in the comments section of the post where David critiques a BP submitted by one of the readers.
1. The cover slide should offer complete contact info, and a tagline if you've got it. One of the benefits of a powerpoint plan is that it forces you to perform the critical exercise of describing the business in very few words.

2. A mission statement is a good idea to present, unless it's rather obvious from the tagline (as in Education, Guidance, Diamonds and Fine Jewelry). Select a mission statement that is achievable, but not yet achieved....

A clear mission statement also includes a clear idea of what the startup will NOT do. Here are some nice ones...

"Prolexic will create and dominate a new network service category that defends web applications from distributed-denial-of-service attacks."

3. Introduce the team...

4. Without yet getting into your product or service, describe the nature of the problem you address. Emphasize the pain level and the inability of incumbents to satisfy the need.

5. Introduce your product, and the benefits (which should obviously address the market problem you just described).

6. Elaborate on the technology or methodology you have developed to enable your unique approach...

7. Show off early customer or distribution progress: numbers, logos, testimonials.

8. Sales strategy. Show the expected cost of customer acquisition.

9. Competitive landscape...This is also a good slide on which to show market size estimates.

10. Earnings Statement, historical and forecast...

UPDATE: Guy Kawasaki on his new blog points out the "The ten topics that a venture capitalist cares about" in the PowerPoint:

1. Problem
2. Your solution
3. Business model
4. Underlying magic/technology
5. Marketing and sales
6. Competition
7. Team
8. Projections and milestones
9. Status and timeline
10. Summary and call to action