Chris devours Startup Grind in 3 bites

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May 22 will be an exciting day at Graham & Dunn Law Offices. Startup Grind will be hosting Chris DeVore, Startup Guy, Seed Stage Investor,  and a good human. Chris will be on the hot seat for a 75 minute interview to answer questions and share some of the insights from someone who has seen hundreds of deals, thousands of pitches and million of dollars invested over his career.  He likes investing in very early stage deals so he can help move the company along faster and hopefully with less mistakes along the way.

Chris helped start Founders Co-op in 2008.  They help extraordinary founding teams located *outside* Silicon Valley build companies that the best venture capital firms in the world choose to back. We’re also the guys behind TechStars Seattle, the region’s #1 accelerator program. Most important, we are a community of fellow founder-operators with hard-fought experience + personal networks spanning every aspect of building, scaling and exiting a high-growth technology business.

He also co founded Judys Book what seems like light years ago.  He left in late 2007 and then started Founders Co-op. He has more stories about starting, executing and exiting than most of us would have time to listen to but he will be at Startup Grind to share his experience with 75-85 fellow entrepreneurs at 6pm on May 22nd.  Be sure to come ready to listen, meet and be inspired by someone who absolutely loves the Seattle tech community. Chris believes this is the best place to start a company and has proven that you can be a successful investor as well as founder. Come join us and enjoy the people, wine, food and interview with Chris.

Add your voice to your slide deck

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I just got off the phone with someone that had just went through a slide deck that was sent to them by a friend of mine. I know the business from which the slide deck was sent fairly well. My friend and I were talking about the company and he only went through the slide deck without any interaction. It was very interesting to hear what he thought about the company after reviewing this slide deck.  Lets just say it didn’t match what was actually happening with the company.  It was not a bad slide deck, it was very well done and was short and to the point. But the “correct” message didn’t get to the intended recipient.

You have played that game where you sit in a row and start a short message and tell it to the person next to you who tells it to the next person, etc. And you know the result of that… right? Wrong message being forwarded and a mess at the end.

For those of you who are creating a slide deck and sending it off to someone who does not know your company or you, I would suggest you add some voice to your slide deck. Narrate it so someone can hear your story about your idea/company from you words. This will help reduce some of the missed communications that happen when someone reads your slide deck without you in front of them.

I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about all the ways that a potential partner/investor/adviser can misinterpret your vision. Your vision is way too important to leave this up to chance.  I know you can create a great 10-12 slides that show how great your idea/company is but maybe you don’t know what the person is doing when they are reading your slides.  It is better if you leave as little to chance as possible.  Therefore wrap some audio into your presentation.

There are several ways to do this. You can record screenshots and video with a program like CamtasiaDebut Video Capture or you can use a service like Brainshark to record audio with your powerpoint. There are several other ways to hack a audio file onto a presentation so I am sure you can find a way to do this. I am just strongly recommending you find a way to do it as it can be the difference between having an additional chat with someone and never hearing from them again.

Paul Graham on investing in Startups

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I have to share this post by Paul Graham.. it really is something every startup investor and person who is raising money should read.

I’ve done several types of work over the years but I don’t know another as counterintuitive as startup investing.

The two most important things to understand about startup investing, as a business, are (1) that effectively all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners, and (2) that the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.

The first rule I knew intellectually, but didn’t really grasp till it happened to us. The total value of the companies we’ve funded is around 10 billion, give or take a few. But just two companies, Dropbox and Airbnb, account for about three quarters of it.

Startup Grind Sept 25 with Todd Dean

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This month at Startup Grind we welcome Todd Dean from Avatara Capital. For those wanting to see what angel investors require or those who are not sure if it is the right thing to do for your startup…you will want to listen to Todd on September 25th. Angel investors are not always the right fit for every startup. Our fireside chat with Todd will be very interesting since he has been involved directly with Angel investors since 2005 when he started the Keiretsu Forum Northwest. Todd has reviewed hundreds of Startups, team members and today has Avatara Capital which helps match great companies with great investors. He has seen both the good and bad when it comes to getting Angel Investors involved in your startup.

If you are on the fence about whether it is time to look for angel investment or not you should attend and ask some questions from someone who has helped match millions of dollars with hundreds of companies in the Northwest.

Startup Grind Seattle will be meeting at The Easy on 511 Boren Ave N., Tuesday the 25th at 6pm. If you have not yet attended a Seattle Grind event you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of people who attend these unique events and the open format that allows the audience to be part of the fireside chat.

Come enjoy beer, wine and food and meet your next CTO, employee or co founder.  Welcome Seagrinders register here.

successful slide decks are short and sweet… not long and bitter

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I have been helping a person out with a short slide deck they can use to meet with angel investors…. here is what I have come up over the years of talking to angels…Please keep your presentations short… you should be able to get through your deck in about 15-20 mins max if you are not interrupted… if you can’t explain your business in 15 mins you are making it too complex and most people will just pass on the investment.

Here are the slides.  If you can provide some pictures that is fine but make them relavant to each slides “punch line”.. . yes each slide should have a one major point that is being explained.

1. We do what??? That solves what?? For who?
2. More details about the problem… this slide may not be necessary.
3. Your solution with a real life use case using names of people… and how big is the market? How many customers that pay for your product are there? do not use “if we only get 1% of this market it will be a success”… if you get 1% of your market you would not be a success.. you would be a niche player.
4. Talk about your team… including advisors if noteworthy… if not noteworthy don’t waste your time.
5. How do you make money.. Keep it simple. Who pays for your service or product?
6. Briefly describe parts of your business, technology, mobile, social, etc. Is there any IP? how does it incorporate into social if it is a consumer product?
7. Who are your competitors? Do not say NONE!! you have competitors.
8. Outline some key metrics you will track or are tracking. Customer acquisition costs? Value of each customer?
9. Show some financial s with a graph.. At least 3 years.. Be realistic… don’t go into a lot of detail here.. if they want more detail you can give them a full set from excel.
10. How much money are you raising, convertible debt preferred? Equity? What milestone does that money get you to?
11. Contact info.. don’t forget your phone number.
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