Now is a great time to be starting a technology business – many things that were expensive only a few years ago are now much cheaper and easier to get hold of, making the costs of starting up much lower than previously.
It is not just about things costing less to get off the ground; now getting access to information, knowledge, people and experience is much more efficient and getting vital feedback into your corporate plans can happen much more easily.
We are strong advocates of the Lean Startup (http://leanstartup.co) methods and practice, and their demand for more customer development earlier in order to validate that your time, efforts and money are best spent pursuing particular product and go to market directions.
Please find on this page, an evolving set of tools to help you in everything from strategic, financial and business model planning to pitching for money. We hope you find these useful.
If you ever come across any excellent other materials that you think others could benefit from seeing, then please share with us!
There is a whole raft of people and VCs that have provided online what the ‘perfect pitch deck’ (LINK) could and should look like.
Suffice to say that as VCs we receive over 500 pitch/plans per year; and if your pitch doesn’t quickly get to why your company and its products can and will dominate a large market that could generate a venture return for us VCs, then you are immediately disadvantaged in any decision process relative to any other pitch that has been honed relative to best practice.
There are also readily available lists on slideshare of what are deemed to be ‘classic’ best pitch decks, it is worth looking at these and trying to figure out what is so good about them, and trying to frame your own pitch relative to one that aligns with your view of your products and market.
Analysis shows that there needs to be 11 basic/core slides:
- Slide 1: Vision / Elevator Pitch – what is your big idea?
- Slide 2: Traction / Validation – gaining credibility – you have proof!
- Slide 3: Market Opportunity – it’s big – and you can get to it.
- Slide 4: The Problem – this is what you customer wants to be fixed
- Slide 5: Product / Service – this is how you do it!
- Slide 6: Revenue Model – this is how you make money from the efforts
- Slide 7: Marketing & Growth Strategy – this is how you get to non-linear growth
- Slide 8: Team – these are the people that are going to do it.
- Slide 9: Financials – we have applied some thought and rigor to our business model, especially the cost of acquiring a customer and how much money each customer will generate
- Slide 10: Competition – These are the people trying to stop you being mega-successful
- Slide 11: Investment ‘Ask’
Business Model Resources
Planning is important for any journey that you want to end in success.
Big companies live and die from their ability to execute their plans, these are companies with known customers, in known markets with proven products. As early-stage companies, working under extreme uncertainty with regard to understanding who your customers are and what your engine of business growth will be, we believe it is more important that your plan shows how you are going to search for your viable business model and de-risk the opportunity by validating your assumptions in as quick and efficient manner possible. This is why we are big advocates of the Lean Startup approach and validated learning through the early stages. To that end, we like to see companies that can cogently describe their opportunity in summary by way of a Business Model Canvas ‘dashboard’. This allows us to focus, with the Founders, on the riskiest part of the business and get to a shared perspective quickly on what could or should be achievable under any investment we might make in the company.
Google will provide a number of resources with regard to the overall Lean Startup process – and we believe that all Founders would benefit from a working knowledge of some of the methods and tools now at their disposal.
Lean Startup and Customer Development.
- Steve Blank –The Startup Owner’s Manual
- Eric Ries –The Lean Startup
- Javelin – leanstartupmachine –Experiment board
- Rob Fitzpatrick –The Mom test – customer interview playbook.
Business Model Canvas
Startup Business Resources
Northern Ireland has a wide range of startup company support grant mechanisms mainly enabled by Invest Northern Ireland. There are also a number of startup initiatives to help with mentoring and support.
For grants (other than the Proof of Concept Grants covered by our website) Check the Northern Ireland R&D and innovation grant informational website here
Propel Programme – here
StartPlanet – here
Entrepreneurial Spark – here
Catalyst Inc. – here
Our Simple Legal Documents
In common with the best seed investors in the rest of the world, we are aiming to be aligned with the latest market terms, and be as transparent and founder friendly as possible; we are happy to share our latest term sheet on request. As per most VC transactions, the company is expected to cover the costs of the legal fees in any transaction we do, and by staying within template parameters we aim to keep those fees to a minimum. Note also that techstartNI does not charge any other fees on any transaction, nor does it charge any Board or monitoring fees after investment.