Prepping for your big pitch
There’s an unfortunate reality about getting a startup off the ground: having a promising idea simply isn’t enough to get you funded. If you want to gather the capital necessary to get your business operational, you need to have a good idea as well as a solid bank of statistics, plans, outlines, and documentation to support that idea. Though it would seem like many ideas simply “sell themselves,” this is almost never the case.
The prudence of investors
You’re going to be pitching to potential investors, so remember that investors aren’t looking to give money away for free; they need to get something out of this. This is a risky endeavor, and they need to be assured that this isn’t just a good idea, but that it’s also a practical one with a genuine potential return. That’s the entire reason behind the standard formatting of a “pitch deck,” which theoretically tells investors everything they want to know.
So what is it that investors want to see in a successful proposal?
Ingredients for success
These are the things investors want to see in a winning proposal:
- A unique value proposition (UVP). First and foremost, your idea needs a unique value proposition; something that explains exactly what the company does and why it’s valuable, not to mention why it’s different than everything else on the market. This is a strong lead-in for any investor, as most prospective investors will only give ideas a cursory glance before dismissing them or probing for more information. Your UVP will also be useful later down the line, when you’re convincing clients instead of investors to do business with you.
- A detailed financial model. Ideas are powerful conceptually, but investors are going to be putting real, countable money into your startup. You need to be able to quantify everything in a detailed financial model; explain how you came up with the exact figure you need to get started, and how that money’s going to be used. Figure out and explain your cost basis, your potential for profits, and how you expect to grow over the coming years. The more detailed you are, the better.
- Thorough market research. It’s easy to form a hypothesis about how your idea might sell in a specific target audience, but again, investors like to see numbers here. What is it about your demographics that make your business so necessary? What hard evidence do you have to support your hypothesis? Thorough market research shows you’ve done your homework, and adds a layer of validation to your idea.
- Acknowledgment of the competition. You aren’t the only business doing this; chances are, even if your specific niche is unfilled, there are related businesses doing something similar already in play. Ignoring these competitors is a glaring flaw investors will see in your pitch deck immediately, so be sure to list at least a handful of your toughest competitors and explain why your business has an advantage over them.
- A reputable leader. Companies may be based on ideas, but they’re built and supported by people. All businesses, no matter how good they are in theory, target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”need strong leadership if they’re going to survive. If you’re the one who’s going to make the decisions, you need to justify your acumen and experience, proving that you have what it takes to lead the business. Otherwise, you’ll need to find partners and employees with niche expertise who can compensate for your weaknesses.
- An expectation of return. This should be a part of your financial projections already, but make sure you have a specific callout for how you expect to return on your investors’ contributions. You’re asking them for a hefty sum of money, but what are you going to give back to them when you’re successful?
- Challenges and risks. Finally, your pitch deck shouldn’t all be blind optimism and pep talking. Be sure you include a section on the significant risks, challenges, and obstacles your business is going to face. This isn’t pretty, and it may not be fun to think about, but it’s a necessary admission for an all-around strong business plan.
If you can put together a pitch deck that addresses all seven of these items satisfactorily, you’ll be in a good position to convince any investor that your business is worth investing in. These are basic and practical factors that, when presented, show that you’re a competent entrepreneur and that your idea has real merit. The other benefit in including these factors is that they’ll force you to confront the weaknesses of your business early on—when you have time to correct them.
Anyone can invest in startups in a new, more bite-sized way
(BUSINESS FINANCE) With this new platform, startups can now seek funding in different ways than the traditional paths, using blockchain to set themselves up for financial success.
Blockchain’s democratization of currency and investing continues to roll along, and it has just dug it claws into startup funding and investing.
A startup up called Securitize wants to offer an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) platform service for startups. The company believes this platform improves the equity experience on both sides of the aisle.
For startups, the ICO format streamlines the access to capital “without the overhead of needing to cultivate personal relationships and go through individual due diligence procedures.” Put simply, it takes less time and logistics to earn funding.
That trend of reducing logistical issues is also beneficial for investors. Traditionally, being a startup investor or equity holder is restrictive for numerous reasons. For outside investors, there are restrictions around investor accreditation to determine who can invest, and how much. Employees compensated with equity struggle with getting equity converted into an actual asset, if it ever gets converted at all.
According to Securitize, thanks to the ICO format, “investors can buy-in knowing the assets are completely liquid from day one.”
Furthermore, because currency investments differ from traditional business investing, more people can get in on the action.
That last point is important, since investing in cryptocurrencies this year is a bajillion times larger than the volume being pointed at startups. When these two world convene, startups get more eyes (and more dollars) pointed at their companies.
All that said, the floodgates aren’t open to free-market bedlam investing by anybody’s Uncle Ricky. Take 22x, a Securitize project that offers “tokenized equity in 30 startups – up to 10 percent of each.” For this project, you must be an accredited investor with a yearly income of 200k and a net worth over $1 million. These restrictions (among others) still allow Securitize to operate within the rules of US law; however, that barrier is still lower than traditional venture capital firm accreditations.
The implications of a more diversified set of funding will be interesting. Perhaps companies will be able to prioritize their journeys differently to align with new funding incentives. Its certainly a worth option to consider, and one that is important to follow as the first sets of companies embrace it.
New platform for buying and selling side projects
(BUSINESS NEWS) A brand new online marketplace posts side projects available for purchase by the public – it’s a good time to take a peek.
It seems there are so many great ideas out there in the world that I often wonder how these ideas are exposed to the right people in order to survive. When someone is just getting off the ground with a startup or a side hustle, they may not have the budget to hire help (i.e. a marketing team or a public relations team) to buy the exposure they need for success.
Hustling, networking, and word-of-mouth often help in these situations, but wouldn’t it be great to expose your idea to the exact person who could benefit from it? Transferslot agrees with this and has created an online portal where individuals can post their side project, and people interested can purchase them.
According to their website, “Transferslot is a curated marketplace where side projects founders can expose their product to our Trusted Buyer community.” Transferslot was originally created with the intention of being used for Product Hunt projects being sold, but is now open to anyone.
The user interface is simple (this is both a compliment and a critique). It’s almost like an online version of the bulletin board that used to hang in your high school with flyers for all of the clubs being offered.
The side projects are listed on the front page of the site and are organized by date (with the newest showing up first). There is then the name of the projects and a description.
Below this includes prices, arranged by: MRR, profits, and asking price. There is a green circle in the corner of each box that will indicate if a project is still available for purchase.
Transferslot allows users to join their mailing list and request access to their Trusted Buyer Program. By joining the mailing list, you will get new projects sent directly to your email inbox. And by requesting access to the Trusted Buyer Program, you will “Get prime access to incredible side projects with great potential. Uncover hidden gems before anyone else,” the company touts.
When you click for more information on each side project, it gives more detail on deals that are pending with potential buyers. There is then a contact form available for you to fill out to get in touch with the owner.
Transferslot seems like an interesting concept but is still in the early stages, given the list of side projects on the home page. However, it could be a cool place to check for investment opportunities or to sell your side project.
How cryptocurrency works – basic vocabulary and concepts
(FINANCE) Cryptocurrency is a concept that dates back a decade, but as it becomes newly mainstream, many are struggling to catch up – knowing the basic concepts can get you up to speed.
One of the most exciting things to arise out of new technology is the idea of better ways to optimize and improve concepts that we already find in the real world. None of us should be surprised when that includes currency.
With cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, NEM, Ethereum Classic, Monero, and Zcash (to name a few), it may be hard for the average consumer not to just keep up, but to know what’s going on in this revolution in our modern day economy. Knowing how crypto works makes you a better consumer, as well as investor in your future. Let’s get started with the basics.
What is a cryptocurrency?
To ask what cryptocurrency is, one should also contemplate what modern day paper or coin currency is. At its most basic, all currencies share this core trait: you can exchange a unit (or units) which has predetermined value for either goods or services. Whether it’s dollars, Yen, the gold standard, or Dogecoin, all of these currencies allow you to complete basic transactions.
Where cryptocurrency is different, is how these transactions are completed and how cryptocurrencies are processed.
How does crypto differ from common currencies?
Cryptocurrency allows you to send money directly peer-to-peer (p2p) electronically instead of operating through third-party systems like banks or governments.
The technology that makes this happen is called Blockchain. Blockchain technology is the primary difference between the dollars in your wallet and the virtual currencies in your crypto wallet. The Litecoin School of Crypto uses a great analogy to explain how blockchains work:
“In its simplest form, blockchain is data. It’s a list of recorded information called “blocks” strung together in a chain. Think of blocks as folders stuffed with information i.e. how much Litecoin was sent, who sent it, and who received it. The great thing about blockchains is that it’s public and anyone in the world can see it.”
How does a normal crypto transaction work?
Here’s an example using the fictional cryptocurrency, bitquarters: Karen owes Jamal 10 bitquarters for her movie ticket, so she’s going to pay him back. Karen first requests the transaction through her digital wallet. Because of the nature of cryptocurrency, she can’t send him bitquarters she doesn’t have (there is no “overdrawn” account status in crypto, like modern banks), so it’s a good thing she just got paid!
When Karen initiates the transaction, she uses her private key to virtually “sign” it. When a transaction is completed, an individual will “sign” their transaction with their private key – the reason why cryptocurrency is called as such is because of encryption, after all. The requested transaction is sent via peer-to-peer (p2p) sharing to a network of computers called nodes. These computers validate Karen’s key and verify the transaction.
After the transaction is verified, it is added to the blockchain, the virtual ledger, that all bitquarter users have access to. After that is finished, in only a matter of seconds, Jamal is paid!
What is this cryptocurrency “mining” thing I’ve been hearing so much about?
Mining is a vital part of the cryptocurrency transaction. Miners are the only individuals in the crypto process that can confirm transactions. Their job is to take a transaction, to verify that it is legitimate, and spread them p2p in the network.
To make it a part of the public ledger (the blockchain) every node has to add it to its database. Because mining takes a computer’s energy and electricity to perform, miners are rewarded with small amounts of cryptocurrency per transaction (like how you pay to pull money from an ATM). However, to prevent fraudulent transactions, a computer must solve an encrypted puzzle in order to add it to the blockchain.
What are other important crypto terms I need to know?
Address: the only piece of information that needs to be used for a transaction, similar to a user name or email address. Each transaction uses a different address.
Block: a unit of data in the blockchain that holds and validates transactions. A blockchain is where all blocks of transactions reside.
Double spend: the action of trying to spend cryptocurrency to two different recipients simultaneously. Mining as well as the blockchain prevent malicious actions such as this from taking place.
Cryptocurrency is held up by some as being the currency of the future, while many others think that due to over-speculation, that it will be a investment bubble with irrevocable consequences for brick and mortar institutions. Regardless of any market forecasters perspective on cryptocurrency, the technology is here to stay and knowing the basic vocabulary can help you understand where things are going.
Don’t be intimidated by all of the language around this concept – if you choose to dive into the crypto waters, you’ll learn as you go along. If you invest in stocks, you know a specific concept and vocabulary list, and crypto functions differently but is just another finance mechanism, both of which can be overwhelming but learning the parts necessary to your goals is all that matters.
PS: If you’re more of a visual person, there’s a short video available that has circulated that explains Bitcoing well, and applies to crypto in general.
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