It's not the product, it’s the execution stupid
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What investors really want to hear in an investment pitch.
A common problem we see at Envestors with companies pitching for investment is a presentation or business plan that is too focused on detailing the amazing product and market opportunity, but barely mentions how the management team plan to execute the business going forward.
It’s as if the founders have expended all their energy getting the product created, and now they lie exhausted without the power left to roll out the business, grow sales, recruit staff, manage the IT platform, and develop new products.
Of course, it’s not surprising – most business founders have spent years persuading themselves it’s a wonderful idea, and then pitched their unknown product to customers, banks, friends and family and anyone else who will listen.
You can almost see the slides used in the investor pitch have been adapted from the sales pitch slides. Just add an introduction, a quick section finance, a table of contents and whay hay… it’s an investment pitch document.
Getting out of ‘SELL’ mode can be very difficult, and anyway, it’s a good thing to be able to sell your product and something investors will want to see evidence that you can. But business founders need to realise that when they are pitching for investment, they aren’t selling their product/service – they are selling an investment opportunity.
And whilst selling an investment opportunity requires the investor understands the product and market opportunity, the investor also needs to get comfortable over a host of other risks. So a good investment pitch is about ensuring it’s clear what the product or service does, what the market opportunity is and what the deal is for the investor – but it needs to continually address, in a concise way, the risk concerns an investor will have.
In my experience at Envestors, where in an average month we review up to one hundred business plans, investors usually get ‘the product’ part very quickly, but then want to hear about ‘the execution’. In fact focusing unduly on product and market is usually a sure indication that there isn’t much else to the business at this point.
The investment pitch needs to contain a clear description of the product or service, but also contain an account of the problem being solved and the opportunity, the management team, the funding requirement and the deal. It needs to be told in a sequential way, so the evolution of the storyline is clear. It wants to be quite visual and illustrative if possible so that the investor gets the picture from start to finish.
I just had to sit through a first meeting with a company where for an hour and a half, we didn’t stop talking about the product, how it works, what it does, how it’s made, what the competitors do, the market dynamics. In reality I got the product bit really early on. I wanted to know how it was selling, what channel was being used, what the tactics were for early sales, who was doing the selling, what impact the promotions were having, what the plans were to launch new products. By the end I felt quite compelled to buy the product, but less compelled to buy the company.