The Plan and the Pitch

The pitch and business plan for investors and partners
Received: November 8 2011

Arthur A. Boni

is John R. Thorne Chair of Entrepreneurship; Distinguished Career Professor; and Director, Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University.

This article covers the essentials of constructing and delivering a “pitch” of a business opportunity to potential investors or corporate partners. We advocate constructing an effective pitch first and then using that as a guide to prepare your business plan. The content of the pitch itself as described herein in effect comprises the elements to be incorporated into a business plan as a more comprehensive documentation of the business. Therefore, focusing efforts on creating and delivering the components of a compelling pitch will provide the essence of what you will then need to put into prose as a business plan. So, our mantra is “pitch then plan,” i. e. don’t waste your time writing prose until you know what you need to write. Furthermore plans change many times between the first writing and successful implementation.
Journal of Commercial Biotechnology (2012) 18, 38–42. doi: 10.5912/jcb.509 Keywords: pitch; business planl investor; partner




itches do not come easily, so our recommendation is to work up a pitch and practice it multiple times with multiple audiences. This is an iterative process and as you proceed to try out your pitch with diverse audiences (customers, partners, investors, team members), you will receive questions and constructive feedback that will in effect help you to refine your understanding of the market need, how to articulate the value that you create, your go to market strategy, etc. Plans don’t sell opportunities; people do via their pitch. Investors typically invest in management teams — especially those with good opportunities and an ability to articulate that opportunity. It is well known by most experienced investors that a business strategy changes many times from inception to successful execution. Therefore, at the “end of the day” most will invest in a team that can survive, grow, and thrive in the face of incredible uncertainty and risk. The team is so important that our Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp dedicates a

Correspondence: Arthur A. Boni, Ph. D., John R. Thorne Professor of Entrepreneurship, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 US. Email:

special session to this topic (see article by Boni and Weingart in this special edition). In the Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp we assemble two sessions to demonstrate how to give a pitch. The first is targeted at venture/angel investors and the second to corporate partners. We assemble panels to which CEOs give their pitch, and then get “grilled” in real time by real investors and corporate partners. Seeing this process in action provides a great learning experience for both the CEO and the participants in the boot camp. This article will illustrate that the pitches basically contain the same elements, but that the elements of focus for a venture pitch and a corporate pitch may differ somewhat. Distinctions will be made in the article. Unfortunately we cannot simulate the real time learning experience in this article, but the information contained in this article is provided to the audience, to the presenting CEOs, and to the VC/partner panels prior to the Boot Camp itself. The setting for the pitch is that you have been able to get an introduction to an angel investor, venture capitalist, or potential corporate partner. This personal introduction or referral is generally required, especially for a venture or angel investors since they are deluged with plans and requests for audiences. They are not going to be able to spend the time reading through a business plan (or perhaps even an executive summary) to decide whether or not to meet with you. It is also helpful with


Journal of CommerCial BioteChnology

ht tp://www.CommerCialBioteChnology.Com

Your passion and dedication need to come through. but your ability to articulate your venture concept. Do some market research on the firm and see what deals they have done. Corporate partners tend to be more interested in products since most typically the partner will bring the product to market thru their organization. they will need to be convinced that your business is a viable partner that will be able to deliver the product to them over time. Now. an introduction from someone whom they know. why you think it is different and will succeed. It’s not the pitch itself. Guy Kawasaki1 in “The Art of the Start” suggests that Know your audience Pitch a Business Stay short and focused Clarify statements with business relevance Figure 1: Preparing for the pitch your pitch should consist of 10 slides. A first meeting will generally not last more than an hour. So anticipate this and explain the significance of what you have just said in terms that they understand with a “for instance” to really make your point. They invest in businesses. You can convey the importance of the problem. the uniqueness of your solutions. The purpose of the elevator pitch is to convince them that they want to hear more in a meeting and perhaps request some preliminary information such as an executive summary prior to the meeting. A 30 point font means that you should not cover a slide with so much material that it really can’t be read by someone with normal vision. but you may need additional slides as backups to get into detail as questions are asked. and 30-point font. If you are talking to a venture capitalist be prepared to pitch a business and not a product. Therefore. what they like. Use pictures or simply graphs/charts so that they will listen to what you are saying (instead of reading ahead and getting confused). However. Anticipate the questions that may be asked and prepare answers to them. Anticipate that the audience may or may not understand the significance of something that you understand very well but that they do not. 20 minutes. you must convince them that your opportunity is a good one for them. before the meeting you should prepare yourself as follows: • Know your audience and prepare for highstakes selling. so 20 minutes of planned presentation will expand to an hour or so with questions and discussion. You won’t get a second chance to make a good impression. We cannot stress enough the importance of being able to do this in the short amount of time (comparable to a ride on an elevator) when you encounter someone for the first time. and what you plan to do in a few short sentences.the corporate partner since it may not be clear whom to contact in a large organization.” There will generally be a short phone call to the appropriate person in the organization and this is your first opportunity to deliver your “elevator pitch. You should know the key points that you want to make so that you don’t need to write down every point that you will want to make verbally. Therefore. what they don’t like.” The ability to deliver a short compelling summary of your opportunity sets the stage for engaging your audience. Stay short and focused. Talk to someone who has done business with the firm previously including the contact that you used to get the meeting. Kawasaki1 also advises that the entrepreneur ask himself or herself the question “so what?” That advice is particularly pertinent to the technologist who assumes that the audience is as familiar with their jargon as they are. trust and respect will help with setting up a meeting and also prevent your hard work from ending up “in the wastebasket or shredder. • • • Apr il 2012 i Vo lu m e 18 i N u m B er 2 39 . and the critical skills that you and your team will bring to the success of your opportunity — and why this would set the stage for making money and for the corporate partner to find a significant opportunity for their portfolio. You can generally make all of your points on 10 slides. at the meeting.

This slide should be used to illustrate a clear and compelling market need. Timmons and Spinelli 2. Hopefully the audience will now be engaged and want to hear more. and who are the customers? The goal here is to get everyone in the room to buy into the problem or need. Why is this a better solution than the alternative? For a partner. address. 4. and then do. The business model can be defined as how you arrange the elements of your business to create. 1. what gaps exist. Kaplan and Warren3. Often time some presenters use a “persona” to illustrate the problem in the form of a fictitious or real person who can be used to make the problem personal in the context of people who we really know. deliver and capture value in the market. Simply said this slide explains how your proposed solution solves the problem. get them thinking about synergies with what they do and what they need. contact person and any other pertinent information that your audience 3. There are four elements: customers. What is the “pain” or compelling need in the marketplace? How is that need addressed today. and authentic. These topics should look familiar to you since they comprise the main elements of any business plan as outlined in any book that includes a discussion on construction of business plans. Make it real! The Solution. and the financial viability. If you don’t have an answer to a question don’t fake it. explain why it’s important. Just say that you’ll get back with them. This slide lists the name of the organization. passionate. The slides (as do you) need to communicate enough information to explain your material and also enlist intelligent questions from the audience. Dorf and Byers4 for example. get them thinking of how this solution will result in fast customer acquisition and market penetration. Moving forward to a term sheet (and deal) is an iterative process and will take a period of time. See Osterwalder5 for a very compelling and visual description of how business models are 2.CommerCialBioteChnology. 40 Journal of CommerCial BioteChnology ht tp://www. In the elevator pitch and in the pitch itself (which follows) you will need to be enthusiastic. your offering (product/service). and that it is significant. Your pitch should be organized into ten sections as shown below (remember Kawasaki’s 10 slides). and what are the demonstrated outcomes of the concept as it currently stands.The ANATOmy OF A PITCh At the start of your pitch. For an investor. and say something that validates the authenticity of the opportunity. It should cover the following points: • • • • • The opportunity is big and unsolved and the need is compelling Your solution is unique (can be differentiated) and has a competitive advantage Identify the customer and why they care — talk about the value that you create (or the pain that you take away) How you are going to make money (and return it to the investor) Why this CEO and team? Current Status Finances Title Slide Problem Solution Competition Market Technology Business Model Team Figure 2: The ten necessary slides will need to know who you are and how to contact you. This is the objective of the Elevator Pitch. You then proceed to the next part of the elevator pitch.” This first part is to engage the audience and make sure that you highlight what you do. which should take about 60 seconds more. The Problem. the infrastructure. not days. c. while encouraging them to the next step in evaluating your opportunity in subsequent meetings and in the due diligence process. Title Slide. that it really exists.Com . how it works. This first part of the Elevator Pitch should be short and comprise the first “15 seconds or so. Keep in mind that you will not walk out of this meeting with a deal in hand. f. The Business Model. Some people may include a picture or some other object on this slide that illustrates something about them or their opportunity. the first objective will be to get the attention of the audience and have them in effect anticipating to hear more about the opportunity and your team. This slide is just used as a visual while you give your elevator pitch. why is it different. VCs and corporate partners each have their own process that takes months.

You will be expected to produce a five-year pro forma with profit & loss. appropriate for your business. 10. Use charts. your value proposition. clinic. Most entrepreneurs want to address the management team early in the presentation since the management team is so essential to the opportunity. You will be expected to address key metrics such as customers. market entry points. list their relevant experience(s) and expertise that is needed to advance your opportunity. market penetration rates. how you access customers (access to market channels). the opportunity and the synergies for the corporate partner. clinical. 8. pictures. In this latter regard how do you drive customer awareness. consideration. Indicate how much money you will need over time and how you will reduce risk in technology. 6.5. The Market. etc. We recommend that you recognize gaps in your team and address how they will be filled — it is better to anticipate this question proactively. significant and sustainable. market. constructed. products sold. Also anticipate how your competition will respond to your market entry. The BUsINess PlAN The above can be assembled into a business plan that demonstrates that your business is based on the following principle anchors as described by Timmons and Spinelli2: Apr il 2012 i Vo lu m e 18 i N u m B er 2 41 . Sell the team. team. The Current Status. tranches. and value inflection points. What are the social. what will drive adoption. The Competition. competing technologies in development? Show how you compare / differentiate against the competition. and how you make money (the revenue model). Have backup charts or white papers available as backups. etc. the value that you create. Have these in a back-up slide. how many are there. For the investor this slide will get them thinking about exit paths through M&A or IPO. how it is unique and protected (yes patents are essential in biomedical companies in particular and also in most technology companies). choice and retention? How much does it cost and how long will it take to make a sale? You can also talk about regulatory and reimbursement issues in this section. 7. and the current state of development and demonstration in the lab. Overview the competitive landscape — who is in this market. Talk about how risk is reduced and value created at each milestone over the 5-year period (investors think in terms of value created for each funding tranche). growth rates. etc. learn to pitch at the right level to get the next meeting. and balance sheet (for the business plan). but in this section use a chart to show revenue and cash needs over time. Some also use this chart to illustrate funding needs. and how you acquire customers. Have lots of backup slides for answers to the questions (and have them organized and indexed for easy retrieval)! Then use these to write your business plan. etc. You will need here to talk about who is your customer. Identify who is on your team. For a corporate partner it will show where you sit in the value chain and where they sit and capture or share value. But don’t put it into a bound volume since it will change many times over the lifetime of your venture. Are there other technologies in development that might be competitive or synergistic? The less text here the better. The Finances. Things change frequently and unexpectedly in the real world. The Management Team. market segments. You might also want to have a backup chart to list key assumptions that you have made. You will want to address the issue of “why this team” in this section. economic and technological factors (SET Factors) or drivers that create this market opportunity? Who are your target customers? Talk about market size. As final advice we recommend that you practice your pitch repeatedly. what are the product lines. 9. etc. Explain your technology in simple terms. state your barriers to entry and reiterate your sustainable competitive advantage. The Technology. current status of your IP. how it is different. Keep in mind that there are always competitors even if it’s getting the job done in a different way. Also list your Board of Directors and Advisors and note your existing investors if you have any. but be aware that investors will be thinking about how to monetize that value in an exit — what IRRs are possible here? You may also want to start a discussion here about next steps with the investor or corporate partner. team. cash flow. and what still needs to be accomplished (tasks and current milestones) — development. Talk a little about how you are building value in your company. Explain what you have accomplished to date. clinical. IP.

“Patterns of Entrepreneurial Management”. published by the Penguin Group (2004) Timmons. Inc. and Warren.. 2. Jack M. “New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century”. Solution. Anthony C. Guy. McGraw Hill (2008) Osterwalder. Yves.CommerCialBioteChnology. 5. These sections may be augmented with Appendices and supporting documentation drawn from the backup slides used in your slide deck for the pitch. A good financial deal is good for all parties concerned so interests must align well — at the time of the deal and into the future. passion. Kawasaki. 4. A good deal is further differentiated by many factors. Thomas H. Deals are done every day in all sectors of the economy and there is extensive literature on what constitutes a good deal and what does not. and equity ownership is important for entrepreneurs. and these must be evident in your pitch and your plan. “Technology Ventures. Above we have stated the importance of the team (and its advisors). 5. The plan itself may be visualized in three layers: • The Foundation or Pillars of the Business (Opportunity) · Opportunity: The Problem (need). conviction. (2010) Dorf. and Byers.. and Spinelli. However what is important to stress here is that in biotech deals science and technology is very important (and must be differentiated carefully). These include with respect to the founders and management team. From Idea to Venture”. Competition The Team. Current Status (Resources) The Foundation (Opportunity) Problem. “Business Model Generation”.Com . Economic and Technological Drivers) · The Market. John Wiley & Sons. McGraw-Hill Irwin (2007) Kaplan. Infrastructure Finances. The Competition • ReFeReNCes 1. winning products are important 4. and ability to work in a collaborative team environment that incorporates diverse skills sets and perspectives. however. 3. 42 Journal of CommerCial BioteChnology ht tp://www. “The Art of the Start”. the quality of the deal is based on many more factors. The Solution (your offering). perseverance. Current Status The Context (Social. Portfolio. Alexander and Pigneur. In concluding it is important to stress that biotechnology investment opportunities fall into the general class of entrepreneurial deals. (2010) • 3. Creates or adds significant value to a customer or user Solves a significant problem in a large and growing market The opportunity can be differentiated and a sustained competitive advantage can be developed The market has the potential for good margins and moneymaking characteristics There is a good fit with the founders and management team at the time with a balance of risk and reward — and alignment of interest with all constituents including investors The Context (SET Factors) Market Drivers. Steven. The Finances. Richard C. Jeffrey A. That is beyond the scope of this article. The descriptions of the appropriate content for the business plan are outlined in the above section on the pitch. Business Model Figure 3: Building blocks for a winning business to partners. Financial return and its magnitude and timing are important for investors. The Business Model The Infrastructure that enables execution (Resources) · Resources: The Management Team. The Technology. Technology. Inc.1. but are not limited to: ability to communicate. willingness to be coached. 2. John Wiley and Sons.

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