strategic consultant to:  

~ serial CEOs & CTOs in software, Internet, technology & digital media
~ experienced consultants in all fields to maximize their practices

The other morning I was awakened at 6:30 a.m. from a deep sleep (I am a California night person) by one of my clients (a NYC morning person) with an urgent (right now this minute) assignment (it couldn’t have been called a request):  to rewrite the investor summary for investors who couldn’t spell software.

Now, of course you write your investor presentations to speak to your ideal investor audience: the smart-money investors with deep domain experience in your market space.

See that sentence?  “smart money”  “deep domain experience”  “market space.”  Now, I can talk to you this way, uh, write to you this way, because my audience (you) work in the same business that I do.  Now, what would someone who built empires in retail or cosmetics or construction think of that sentence?  Not much, since they wouldn’t understand the words.

So, what if you were writing your investment presentation for folks who were smart and successful and wealthy enough to invest millions of dollars in your company, but thought servers were only to be found in restaurants?

There is an old truth that you should be able to explain your business to your 8-year old (or your grandmother – but soon your grandmother will be tech savvy, and likely your 8 year old already is).  It is called KISS –  “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” 

So, yes, write your investor pitch to your ideal investor.  Then write it again and KISS it.  Why?  Because in this economy, there is money waiting to find investment opportunities, often where you are not looking – in industries and wealthy individuals who would love to play in our exciting marketplace, but don’t understand it well enough to sign the check.  And in this economy, these folks may be your best chance for investment, growth, even survival.

Here are tips on KISSING:

Replace your headlines with titles like these:  Our company, Our product, Our advantages, Why companies (or customers) will buy;  Who will buy; How big is the market? Our current sales and negotiations; Our team; Our capital; Your return on investment, and so on.

Replace technical words with simpler (yes, less precise) words –  for example: 

  •  “software/content is integrated with” or  “embedded in” write “our product becomes part of…”
  •  “mainframes” and “servers”  write “hardware.”
  • “software architect”  write ‘our inventor.”
  •  “data” write “information.”
  • “content” write “stories,” “videos,” “comedies,” “articles,”  etc.
  • “Software as a Service (SaaS) revenue model” write “our subscription to our customers – we ‘rent’ the software, but do not sell it”
  • “customers license our software/solution to” becomes “our customers use our product to”
  • “Target buyer” “target market”  “end-user” “client” all become the most-understood word — “customer” — when you mean to indicate the buyer of your product or service.

Use the same word repeatedly when you mean the same thing; don’t say “customer” and “client” and “market” when you mean customer (end-buyer).  Avoid the finer distinctions of what kind of customer.

Assert your market size without details and sources, in a single sentence that tells the market size, and your projected penetration and revenue.

Reduce your detailed explanation of your target markets, industries, market sectors and target users to a couple of sentences that list your target industries, kinds of companies, and end-user’s job titles and responsibilities.

Keep your written presentation to less than 3 pages; 2 pages is best.

Put your contact information at the top of page 1, under the title of the presentation, and repeat it in footer at the bottom of each page.  Do not make anyone search to find how to contact you. 

In the footer, with the contact information, add “confidential” and “page x of y.”  This will cover your notice of confidentiality, and will tell the reader when the document has ended.

You get the idea – keep all the language and explanation as simple as possible, so it can be repeated to someone else with confidence by your potential investors.  

At the end of all this work, the document will look so accessible that no one will know how difficult it is to say something with simple clarity in 2 pages.  So don’t expect any congratulations.  This is the irony and the humor of good writing and successful pitching.  Good luck.