Startup Pitch Decks That Will Get You Funded

How do you put together a pitch deck that impresses investors? What goes in one anyway? And how can you make maximum impact when you’re giving the pitch? Marc Phillips, Managing Director at Arafura Ventures, Jim Fulton, Partner at Cooley LLP, and EGFS COO Sirk Roh, covered all that and more in our recent webinar: Startup Pitch Decks That Work. If you missed the webinar, here’s my slide-by-slide take of the highlights. At the outset Select investors who can re-up on their investment and who can help you beyond just giving money. Putting together your deck Slide 1: Logo/Mission/Positioning Line.Founders This slide is your elevator pitch. In 15-20 seconds or less, you should convey a sense of excitement, while getting across to investors that you are “investment ready.” For best results, make this emotive, using images and logos where you can. Use your positioning line to convey your mission and …
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5 Common Obstacles to Startup Success: And How to Steer Clear

Paul Finkle, CEO of SharedHR, co-authored this post. We know startups. From our experience launching our own companies, to now providing outsourced services and support for the next generation of startups, we know the mistakes most organizations make. SharedHR provides HR support, and Early Growth Financial Services provides financial support to early-stage startups. Between us, we’ve helped hundreds of organizations to establish and manage the essential systems and processes needed to succeed. Over time, we’ve realized there is a common set of mistakes that many early-stage startups encounter. But with our combined experience, we’ve also realized that with the proper knowledge, planning, and support, these mistakes can be easily avoided. 1. Lack of planning. Perhaps you’ve heard the “rumors” that business plans are dead, outdated, anachronistic holdovers from days gone by. Don’t believe it. Business planning is essential for your success. You must establish clear organizational goals and then develop …
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4 Steps to Get You Through a Small Business Audit

Though the odds of your business getting audited are low, with the IRS increasing its focus on finding small businesses that are underreporting income, it pays to think about how you would handle it if your business were to receive an audit notice. Hopefully you’ve avoided the two things that many startups are guilty of: not properly tracking expenses and mixing business and personal accounts. But what should you do if the IRS comes calling? 1) First, Don’t panic — Getting an IRS notice doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve done anything wrong. In many cases, clarification and documentation of a few items are all that’s needed. Sometimes, once you’ve gone through the exercise, whether an examination by mail or a full-scale traditional audit, your tax liability is unchanged. But you do need to review what triggered the audit. The IRS will include a general description of the information it wants …
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13 Ways To Be A Great Startup Boss

Originally published in MonsterThinking. The following answers on what it takes to be an outstanding startup boss were provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) in response to this question: What is the #1, must-have trait for a great boss? 1. An Understanding of Intrapreneurs Today, there are more and more intrapreneurs within companies. A boss needs to understand that everyone wants more ownership over his or her tasks and projects. When someone feels like he or she is in control or contributing a lot, he or she performs better and enjoy the work more. — Nathalie Lussier, The Website Checkup Tool 2. The Ability to Guide Others True leaders must prepare their employees to go on a journey, not simply kick them in the right direction. Guiding them along the way means providing them with the necessary preparation in the form of tools, advice and examples. These …
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When to Bring A Startup CFO On Board

Early stage and small companies need CFOs with a different mindset and skills than their peers’ in large organizations. Of course, early stage CFOs can and do manage P&L and handle investor relations, but they also do a lot more. How do you know when it’s time to bring one on? And more importantly, what exactly does a startup CFO do? Startup CFOs help to hone a startup’s business model and drive growth. They must simultaneously have a handle on the company’s cash position: answering questions like “are we spending in the right place?” and “how much cash/runway does the business have?” In addition to: Managing P&L Modeling cash flows Tracking financial performance versus plan Helping drive discussions with 409A valuation firms (these should be done at least once a year and/or after any substantial change in a company’s valuation.) Supporting equity and debt negotiations At the same time that …
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The Key to Building Your Startup Revenue Model: Forecasting

Originally published in AffinityLive. One of the most important things you can to ensure the financial health of your business is to create your revenue model. Your revenue model gives you a necessary understanding of your cash flow and needs and is your way of demonstrating—to yourself and to potential investors—how you plan to earn revenue and maximize your profitability. The key to creating your revenue model is through forecasting—that is, projecting revenue estimates, even if you’re currently pre-revenue. Forecasting is an ongoing process that will help you to manage your cash and continue to grow. There are two general approaches to financial forecasting: top-down and bottom-up forecasting. To be honest, top-down forecasting is a bit bogus in terms of giving you realistic numbers, but it’s still a necessary exercise when seeking funding. With top-down forecasting, you start with the overall market size and use this to identify your particular …
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A Look At Seed Funding Options for Your Startup

Among the earliest decisions you have to make when you’re getting your startup off the ground is how to fund it. Whether you intend to go it alone for as long as possible, or line up funding right away, the earlier you decide on a strategy, the better. Our Seed Funding Your Startup webinar with Kristine di Bacco, Associate Attorney at Fenwick & West and Sirk Roh, EGFS’ Chief Operating Officer, was a dive into the ins and outs of early-stage financing and a look at some of the key vehicles. Bootstrapping While bootstrapping for as long as you can might be the right decision for you, and it offers the benefit of no dilution, if you know you’ll ultimately want/need to raise investor funds, don’t rely on your own resources for too long. It can raise questions in investors’ minds as to whether bootstrapping was really your choice, or …
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How to Choose the Best Advisors For Your Startup

Originally published in Business on Main. While the specific dynamics of each relationship will be different, great startup advisors help entrepreneurs in a myriad of ways: from giving direct advice on tactics to high level business strategy. It’s worth it to be thoughtful in assembling your informal “board” of advisors. The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) posed the following question to members: Q: What’s one quality you should look for in a potential advisory board member? Why? The Ability to Tell the CEO That He’s Wrong It is not only important to have contrasting views, but it’s also important to be able to tell the CEO or management team that he feels the company is headed in the wrong direction or that a decision being made does not fall in line with the core principles the company was established on. I think it is important to have a strong mind that …
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Lean Startup Tools: Building A Growth Engine

Sounds nice, but what exactly is a startup growth engine? In our recent webinar, Chris Bechtel, CMO at BlueDeer, LLC, and Gadiel Morantes, Partner with EGFS, explained how building a growth engine combined with using Eric Ries’ lean startup principles to acquire customers in the most efficient way possible can build successful companies. Chris started with Deloitte & Touche’s description of a startup growth engine as a systematic process that requires organizational infrastructure to consistently find, evaluate, and execute on business opportunities. This is distinct from Sean Ellis’ categorization of growth hacking in that rather than combining marketing, market research, and technical strategies to come up with marketing solutions, building a growth engine focuses on creating a unified strategy to cultivate long term, authentic relationships that create value. In which startup situations might this strategy have the most impact? You have insufficient resources Your team lacks experience and training Your …
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9 Startup Funding Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but honestly startup fundraising can oftentimes feel like you’re navigating a minefield: one false step and the money blows up! That’s why you need to be clear on what you’re looking for, where to look for it, and what you need to get it. You start the process by targeting the right investors, seeking connections for warm intros, and then doing your research and homework to prepare yourself for investor meetings. For more details on this process, check out my previous post 8 Tips for Making Real VC Connections. Assuming you’ve done all this, you’re on the right track. But at this point, there are still many mistakes you can make that can sabotage your fundraising process. From my perspective as CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, so many of the worst mistakes have to do with the way companies understand, monitor, and …
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