I'm often asked to help entrepreneurs and early-stage companies working in the medical device and health-care industry create presentations aimed at attracting millions of dollars in venture capital funding. Here's a quick primer on how to go about the presentation process, no matter what industry you're in:
Find someone to work with, to coach and to advise you on the presentation's look and feel, as well as to rehearse and critique your delivery style. This person should be outside your core team. She should act as an unbiased third party, someone who can ask the difficult and/or annoying questions. This is a great way to avoid a messy presentation that falls flat with potential investors.
Prepare and critique presentation slides and supporting materials. Then leave them for a day or two, and edit everything at least three times.
Prepare two presentations, one that is 10 minutes long and one that takes 15 minutes. Depending on the environment, the mood of the venture capitalist/investor or the contest rules, you should be ready for both.
Schedule at least five two-hour sessions for rehearsals to prepare for the 10-minute presentation and longer for the 15-minute session. I don't care how good your technology/idea/patents are; if you can't interest investors with your story, they will be less than impressed.
Follow up with at least three one-hour question-and-answer practice sessions. Be ready for their questions, think of the question you would dread the most, and then prepare to answer it and others like it.
Have someone outside your team attend one live presentation to critique it and provide feedback. After all that practice, it's a good idea for someone to tell you how you did during the "live" session.
Polish your elevator speech until it shines. You never know when you'll have the opportunity or the blind luck to impress the right investor with your idea.
Make a targeted list of specific venture capitalists and angels, including names of senior partners and junior partners as well as previous deals and current board-level positions held by each. Don't take a shotgun approach with VCs. They specialize by industry and even by verticals within an industry. Even within the health-care sector, most VCs have separate practices for biopharma, biotech and medical devices. Be sure you're going after the right person.
Here are some do's and don'ts:
- Let your passion shine through. Investors often bank more on the people than on the technology or patents since it's really about getting people to work together to bring the product/service to market.
- Be confident and sure-spoken about your topic.
- Be yourself.
- Pretend you know the answer to something when you don't. If you don't know the answer, say so, then work like heck to get back to the potential investor with an answer in a relatively short amount of time.
- Overhype your credentials or experience. VCs are investing their money and will take the time to investigate your claims with rigor. Be aware of this.
You only get one shot at a first impression, and this one can cost you dearly if you don't get it right.
Kathleen Malaspina is founder and president of Malaspina Healthcare Consulting Inc., a company that specializes in health-care marketing strategy. She advises CEOs and senior executives of medical device and health-care companies who are interested in growth.