Areas of Practice
It's pretty simple. You need to capture the complexity of your business, but describe it in ten of the most enticing, concise slides you've ever created. And you need a financial model that aligns with the same story. Okay, maybe it's not that simple. Your product is only 1/10th of the story. 10x cheaper customer acquisition channels, an investor's ROI, why the timing is perfectly ripe for you to strike, the technical insight and business model that gives you a moat from your competitors, but most importantly, the size of the market and team you have to go capture it.
This is why creating the right pitch deck has more to do with narrative than design, bullets, and some assumptions. You need precise, granular detail, a repeatable sound bite so your pitch unlocks network effects, and a highly experienced operator to write it from a real-world and investor perspective. Anything less and the deck doesn't get opened.
We use our proprietary Everett Pitch Deck Method which combines the Guy Kawasaki and Sequoia frameworks, then remixes them with our own learnings over the years:
Problem / Big Opportunity
Giant Niche Market
Product Solution & Demo
Unique Selling Proposition
Capital Raising & Use of Funds
Progress, Roadmap, Milestones
Return on Investment
The incredible thing about financial modeling is that a single spreadsheet with a few tabs can accurately give an investor every bit of information he or she needs to make an investment decision without hearing anything else about the business. Financial models are required for due diligence, arriving at a valuation for the firm, understanding payback periods, and determining the right capital allocation strategy for the market dynamics you find yourself in. Bonus: it also helps with pricing your products, locking in your hiring plan, budgeting and of course, M&A.
But the part most people miss is the narrative you introduce it with. "We're growing 50% every quarter. Wanna invest?" A bit cheeky, sure, but the point matters. We need to zoom in to find the diamond in the rough, and bring that to the surface, then wrap our narrative around that. Every business, whether operating in an existing or emerging market, is different, so templates simply won't cut it for the smart money investors.
Our most detailed financial operating models include the following features:
Assumptions: Revenue, COGS, Compensation, CAPEX, OPEX, Cash, Debt
Customer Orders: buyers, manufacturing timing, re-order frequency
Inventory: draw downs versus repurchases
Revenue & COGS: who buys what, how often, from whom, and at what cost
Cash Flow Timing: days payable and days receivables
Payroll: compensation expenses, annual pay increases, short and long-term incentives and benefits
Operating Expenses: SG&A and other components, using public peer group comps if available
Detailed Financial Statements: monthly for 3 years
Summary: KPIs, financial statements
Unit Economics: how it changes as business becomes more efficient at scale
Valuation: developed using multiple perspectives: discounted cash flow from operations, break-up value of assets, comps based on earnings multiples, and potentially discounted dividend model if doing revenue-based dividends
We've been exercising the art and science of Product Management since before most people even knew the position existed or even the right way to define the role. We've done it for old dusty LAMP stacks, on cutting edge Connectomic AI, and done it for mobile apps and trading programs. We've designed information architectures, invented entire products, created 100 mockups of keyframes to give engineers the precise timing of a facial animation that we engineered, created SLAs, closed F500 business development deals, raised capital, and many more things that perhaps don't fall under the traditional banner of Product Management.
Many people still argue over what the real definition is. For us, it's "What's the simplest thing you can sell that has the highest ROI per unit of time?". We also wrote up a little something on the Emerging Trends of Master Level Product Management to kick off 2019.
A single decision can be the difference between success and failure. Back in the Social, Local, Mobile wars of 2010-ish, Gowalla was going head-to-head against Foursquare. The former chose "backpacks" while the latter chose "badges". A few letters difference meant Gowalla folded while Foursquare just sells location data. But neither still exist in the public consciousness. Instagram launched about the same time and still had a SoLoMo strategy, but they chose a Photos-First strategy rather than Location-First. And they're now one of the most valuable assets in the world with over 1 billion monthly active users. Strategy isn't a deck from McKinsey; it's a single decision about the vector of your business.
The secret is knowing the right question to ask. That's precisely what we're great at: knowing the right questions to ask and helping you navigate through the chess match of possible answers.
All of Silicon Valley and every consumer startup is using the same playbook. Buy ever-more-expensive and more competitive ads on Google and Facebook to drive purchases of your product. We showed how to do this in a simple tutorial a few years back, How To Build 44,000 Facebook Fans in 3 Months with only $800. It really seemed to resonate with people. However, the pendulum has swung so far to one side that many of the most innovative thinkers forget to look to the past for more creative means of delivering customers to your door.
We've been repeating "10x Cheaper Customer Acquisition" in the halls for some time. We help you identify your target customers, figure out novel ways to reach them where there's much less competition for their attention, and help determine the right budget that maintains ROI and provide reports on the back end.
In much of our social media surroundings, we've been primed to think that the more we share, the more of an influencer we are. But we're not big fans of that here, unless you hire us to execute a multi-channel customer acquisition strategy. We much prefer private, one-on-one conversations to understand motivations, driving forces, and the origin story that paints the real picture. Being your Trusted Advisor must be earned. And as they say, loose lips sink ships. And we're not in the business of sharing, we prefer listening.
At their best, early stage businesses are about hope, promise, and building something that truly helps people. At their worst, it’s a playground for bad apples to do bad things without a proper governance structure. We’ve laid witness, to the ill effects of Pump & Dump strategies, egregious spending on frivolous expenses over employee payments, workplace discrimination and harassment, and misleading statements to investors and employees. While the winner-take-all dynamics of tech are well understood at this point, we can’t help but be drawn to ethical, honest and hard-working people who get up every morning, listen to customers and their people, and do the hard work of building quality businesses, day after day, for decades. That, more than anything, is what makes us jump out of bed with excitement every morning. And represents the types of people we surround ourselves with, and businesses we work on behalf of. If that sounds like you, we can’t wait to meet and operate on a handshake and smile.