Created by: InBIA Member, Todor Raykov
If you work at a business incubator, accelerator, or another entrepreneurship support organization, you probably have to review tens, if not hundreds, of pitch decks every year. Coming up with an efficient way to evaluate presentations, provide feedback to your clients, and keep track of their progress could become challenging, especially if you are working with a number of startups. I decided to develop a tool that could help me deliver consistent results and save me time during coaching and pitch sessions. After many iterations, I have finally arrived at a version that I feel comfortable sharing with the InBIA community and I’m excited to hear your thoughts and suggestions for its improvement.
Enter PitchPager, a two-page document for taking notes and making sure that the entrepreneurs are prepared to answer some of the tough questions that pitch competitions judges, angel investors, and/or venture capitalists will inevitably ask them during investor presentations.
You can download and review the tool using this link. The first page prompts the advisor/reviewer/judge/investor to write down the name of the company and the date of the presentation. This is particularly useful if you are helping an entrepreneur refine their investor presentation during several sittings. The page has 16 boxes for taking important notes (e.g., if there is too much noise on a particular slide). Nowadays, many accelerators and pitch competitions ask entrepreneurs to present up to 10-12 slides so the 16 boxes should be sufficient for most presentations. Personally, I’m against the idea of putting a limit to the number of slides, but this is another topic in and by itself. At the bottom of the page, I’ve left some room for comments about the time the entrepreneur spent pitching and other notes I may have (e.g., presentation style, if the presenters is making eye contact with the audience, etc.).
Once the entrepreneur is done with the presentation, it is typically time for the Q&A part of the session. At this stage I have found it useful to have a list of potential questions that I may want to ask them. Here PitchPager’s second part comes in handy. It has 36 sample questions structured in 12 categories and 3 main sections.
The first section, consists of 4 categories: Solution, Team, Market Size & Adoption, and Channels. The second section deals with the actual product/service and how it is different from what the competitors have to offer. The third and final section asks questions about the company’s traction and growth objectives.
The purpose of all of these sample questions is to provide guidance and to help both the reviewers and presenters avoid blind spots. I have noticed that some presentations appear great, but problems might be lurking underneath the surface. For example, a product could look great and be well protected, but the market size could turn out to be unattractive, or the current startup team might not be suited to deliver the results that investors would expect.
I don’t ask entrepreneurs to answer each and every one of the questions, because they might have already done most of this during their actual pitch. I have left room for additional questions in each category and I often find myself asking entrepreneurs to go to a particular slide. Here the 16 boxes for slide notes have proven very helpful.
At the bottom of the page, reviewers can again write down some notes about the time it took the entrepreneur to answer the questions. On many a session, I’ve seen presenters get stuck answering a particular question completely oblivious of time. I make sure to note things like this and bring it up to the entrepreneur’s attention at the end of the session.
All in all, PitchPager could prove a simple, but useful tool in a practitioner’s arsenal. It won’t necessarily work for everybody because of the difference in work styles and experience we all have, but if you do get the chance to try this tool out, please let me know. I would consider it a success if more advisors use PitchPager to help entrepreneurs improve their investor presentations and I would love to hear your feedback and incorporate it in future iterations of the tool.
About the Author: Todor Raykov
Raykov works as a Venture Services Manager at NextFab, where he manages the organization’s business incubation program and runs the RAPID hardware accelerator, a twelve-week program during which hardware startups achieve their product-market fit through customer development, hands-on technical product development, and business coaching.
Todor has been a member of InBIA since 2014 and obtained his Business Incubation Management (BIM) certificate in 2016. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of NextFab.