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Will They Make It? The Perfect Presentation

I heard this question twice yesterday, once from a CIO and once from a financial
analyst: "Why won't they just tell me what their product
does?" It's not the first time I have heard that plea, and I'm sure it
won't be the last. One of the ways to tell if a company will make it is
how quickly can they get you to understand why they exist and what
makes them different.

Suppliers of all sizes, but especially new emerging companies, need the
perfect presentation. If they can't get you to understand what problem
they can help you with and why they are better than the other guys, you
are probably not going to invest in the solution. If you and your peers
don't invest in the solution, then they won't make it past their
initial funding.

Fortunately it is the season of giving and I am going to give suppliers
some of the basic ingredients to the perfect presentation. First, every
vendor's opening slide should have three bullets: The exact problem the solve, why they are different, and how much the product costs. Optionally, the slide
could end with a "Should we continue? Yes or No?"

Until a vendor convinces a buyer that they have a product that can solve a problem, buyers won't care about things like where your company is, how impressive a building it is in,
who founded it or who is funding it. With that first slide we all would
know if there was mutual interest. If, as a supplier, your response is
that you can't get the basics of the problem you are trying to solve
accomplished in one slide then I believe you are going to have a bumpy
road ahead. If the potential user of the product answers "No, I don't
think that is what we need," then find out why they think so, see if
you missed something but be prepared to mutually move on. Sometimes
there just isn't a good fit or the timing is bad. Move on, no sense
banging your head against the wall.

Once you have interest, especially if you are a smaller company, your buyer will care who your
founders are and their backgrounds. Again, this should be done in one
slide. They may want to know who is funding you. I tend to find that buyers put less importance on this than suppliers do. Venture firms make
a mistake more often than they get it right. For every Data Domain, or
EqualLogic there are ten or more misses. Next, if you feel it is really
needed, a brief (one slide) summary of the market conditions.

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