Funding Source’s, What to Look For When On the Hunt, and How To Present

Now that you have written your business plan, have your preliminary financial data in place, you need money to make it happen.

How do you find that money? If you have saved up some, you can use that, or you can go to friends and family and get some money from them, if they support your concept and think you can do it. (F/F/P phase)

There are two other sources to go to as well, Angels or Venture Capitalist.

An Angel is a person or group that typically gives a startup up idea from $25K to as much as $1M (that much is typically an Angel Group) to begin developing the Proof of Concept or the product itself. You should go to an Angel Funding Source if you need less than $1M, and typically less than $500K, to get your product built, or if your plan requires a Proof of Concept, the Proof of Concept built.

If you go to an Angel or Angel Group you need to look at some factors before starting to talk to them. Do some research and find out:

1. What the person/group you are interested in asking money from typically invests their money in.

2. If they accept Venture Capital as a future source of funding.

3. If they are willing to add more cash down the line to help reach that “next” milestone.

4. If they have contacts with people that may be interested in providing more money should the need arise.

5. If they have contacts that may want to use your product/services.

6. How much control/hands on activity they want to have with your company. (Do they want to sit on your Board of Directors or Board of Advisors, do they have any say on how the money is spent within the company?)

7. And if you are going for a lot more money in the near future, if they work with or know any Venture Capitalist that like your industry/product type.

It is the recommendation of TDBell Enterprises, Inc., that you work with your Angel Investors as an Equity Play, meaning they get a small portion of your company for the money they invest. We do not recommend that you use the money as a loan.

A Venture Capitalist is typically a person or company that has gone to from one to many people, companies, retirement funds or other large pools of money and created a Venture Fund that is geared to one or more industries/products/services. These funds typically finance a company from $500K to over $200M, taking stock in the company as “collateral”.

Like going to the Angel Investors, you need to look at a few things when you go to a Venture Capitalist:

1. Has the person/group invested in companies in your industry?

2. At what stage of the company (Proof of Concept, Development, Revenue in place (and if so, at level of revenue is required), etc.)

3. Are they going to be Sole Investors at this stage, or are they going to have other groups joining in this round with them.

4. How involved are they going to get with your company? (Do they want to manage the company, etc?)

5. Do their portfolio companies need your product and will they introduce you to them if they do?

6. How much of the company stock do they want?

7. Will they add more funds to the company should it be needed? (And if so, at what cost to you?)

8. How much reporting do you have to do to them?

After you have looked at the available Angels that you can find, the available Venture Capitalist you can find, you need to decide which path is the best way to go for your company and your “style”.

If you are confident that you will need Venture Capital level funding, after you narrow your search down to the Venture Capitalist you are going to target, and have answered the above 8 (and a few more I’m sure) questions, you need to decide if you need to go to an Angel first.

At this point you start fine tuning your financial section to meet the needs of the Investor you are going to approach. The over all business plan stays the same through this process (unless you are fine tuning it to meet development/production needs due to feedback, etc.). The only part of the business plan that changes is the Financial Section(s) and that changes based on the target Investors. You already have in your plan the steps to go live and to go to revenue. You have your milestones written down, etc, in the plan, and you have “line items” in the financial section that correspond.

Example:

You are going to create a software/hardware intensive service product that requires FCC approval of the Concept. To create the Proof of Concept to meet the FCC needs, you need $750,000, but to go to revenue you will need roughly $35M (which includes the $750K). You are able to get a Friends/Family/Personal Pockets (F/F/P) round up of $150K.

Your research shows that the available list of Venture Capitalist out there that would fund this project require you to have your FCC permits in place, a working model of your service product in place, and 1 solid customer ready to pay for your services once you are able to build out.

In this example you would need to go to one or more Angel Investors to help you reach the remaining $600K to get your prototype up and running to do the testing that will satisfy the FCC. You would want to find an Angel or Angel Group that allows for future rounds of Venture Capitalist backed funding. This group would hopefully be willing to add a bit more in if needed to go past any “gotcha’s” that may crop up as you answer the FCC requirements.

Now that you know you are going to an Angel or Angels you rewrite your financial section to show an investment of $150K (F/F/P), the need and the use of the $600K from the Angels, and when the remain investment of $34,250,000 will be requested and how it will be used.

When you write up your presentation to the Angel(s) you show the Living business plan, current Financials, and talk to your needs.

When you get to the Venture Capitalist later you write up your presentation, you show the current business plan, which no longer has the Proof of Concept stage in it (it’s completed successfully, and not part of your plans now, living business plan remember?) but shows next stages over the next three to five years as perceived today, with the financials now showing how you spent the last $750K, and what you will be doing with the next $34,250,000 that you are asking from the Venture Capitalist.

Tools for Making Effective Presentations and Keeping Your Audience Engaged

Stage Fright is a common disease of our dynamic corporate world. Astonishingly, not many senior executives undergo a formal training in the art of public speaking or in making presentations. And only those senior executives who understand the importance of posture, pauses, blank spaces, facial expressions, flow and quality of words, variation of voice pitch and timings try to learn this art.

I take it as serious business.

After having attended a formal “Effective Speaking” training program in 1996 at the British Foreign Office training center in London, I was quite hopeful to develop my skills as an effective speaker and presenter. This three day program covered the above techniques in addition to a session on effective writing. I remember our facilitators kept repeating;

“There is only one tool that helps deliver good speeches or presentations – Practice, practice and more practice”.

In the past 15 years, I have delivered uncountable presentations and spoke at numerous public forums, conferences and seminars. And equipped with what I learnt at British Foreign Office Training, I also tried to analyze various fellow presenters.

My observations confirm that particularly case of senior executive that did not go through a purpose-designed program, there always are three common key missing links:

- Control on body movements
- Voice variation
- Expressions

In my opinion, one cannot doubt the knowledge and quality of contents of an expert speaker. However if the above ingredients are missing, it is highly likely that your audience will lose interest. I have also seen that extensive and complicated presentations also cause severe damage to presenter’s ability to engage audience. I have also observed that some presenters keep going in the flow of their thoughts, and in trying to impress their audience forget that a normal human has a short attention time span. In my opinion, if your listeners can not retain 25% of what you have said – “you have failed to deliver your message”.

Let’s discuss the common what can be done to avoid “Presentation Disasters”:

Understand your audience:

Highly important. One must not prepare a presentation without knowing the audience. Try to gauge the level of education, expertise, areas of interest, issues faced, and then only develop your presentation. This is the only way to keep your audience engaged throughout.

Write from your heart: Often I have seen people delivering presentations or speeches written by others. For trained and experienced presenters, this is okay, however if you have not contributed towards developing the presentation or speech, speaking from your heart will be too challenging, hence creating an impact too will not be possible.

Avoid reading from paper: I am not a fan of reading from a written paper. Fine to do it only in case of a specific government level speech or expressing point of view, but for any other presentation, if you read from a paper, you are inviting a reputational disaster!

Practice: Okay, here is the key – as I mentioned above, for making highly effective presentations, extensive practice is unavoidable. And when I talk about practice, I am not only suggesting “speaking practice” but also reviewing the flow and carefully thinking about expected questions and how to respond to these questions. Surprisingly, very few presenters follow this strict rule.

I have also seen presenters struggling with technical glitches, ask yourself:

How difficult to have an additional soft copy of your presentation and a printed version? How difficult it is to check the microphone volume? How difficult it is to control the lights at the stage to avoid blindness?

And the final word “Your audience do not know what you would tell them next, so if you have forgotten a point, keep moving on, they won’t notice it”.

If you follow these points, you will be repeatedly performing better.

Happy presenting!!

Make Your Presentation Attractive

You take great efforts in researching for your presentation and then even a simple thing like wrong choice of font color can mar it. Choosing the right color scheme and background as it is utmost necessary for it to be audience friendly and pleasant to look at.

The common mistakes that are made while selecting contrast for your slides. Here is a list of faux pas you can avoid:

Color of the background same/similar to the font color: The presentation should be such that audience should be able to read it without any hassle. If the font is blue color and background is black color; or light pink color against white background

Too much bold/bright colors: Slightly dark colors not only give a classy look to the slides but also are gentle on the eyes. Too many bright or bold colors can actually give viewers a headache. If you do not know how to combine colors or which colors to use you may end up using completely wrong colors.

Applying fancy effects: Equipped with many tools and no knowledge of application, presenters enthusiastically apply variety of effects to the slides. Sometimes fill effects that are used when file transcends are darker to lighter background, resulting into the text merging with the backdrop owing to the similarity of the brightness level.

Now that we have demarcated the issues while choosing the right font and backdrop, we know what to avoid. Let us now focus on the right method and applications that can further enhance our presentation. Selecting the right colors make for a successful and easy to read presentation.

Select extreme colors, you can either go in for darker colors or light shades, using mid-tones should be completely avoided. Once this is done and sorted out, everything else falls in place.

Once you have identified the background color, then the next step is to choose the font color. While doing this, keep a simple thing in mind, the presentation is for an audience so every effort and endeavors should be directed towards making it easy on eyes in terms of convenient to read from a distance too. You can use light colors on dark background or darker font on light background (black font against white). If you follow this basic rule and apply it to all your presentations you do not have to worry about other factors like intensity of the lighting in conference room and other stuff.

While reading, you will realize that the above mistakes and solutions are so simple to follow and understand. But at times we fail to keep in mind that what matters the most is the viewers and all we need to do is place ourselves in their shoes and accordingly plan the slides.

All it takes is few seconds to choose the right colors and your presentation looks far more visually appealing to one and all.

In a nutshell, it is for the speaker to decide whether to make the audience irritable with wrong color scheme or give a simple but effective presentation with a touch of sophistication!