2 Aug 2016

Demo Day Presentation - 7 Mistakes that will hurt you

Demo Days provide your startup an excellent opportunity to face a large gathering and share your business idea with the world. You have gone through the grid, prepared and are now facing investors and peers as you pitch. For many startups, their demo day presentation is often the first time they give a formal pitch on a stage. The tension is palpable and mistakes do happen.

I have attended various demo day presentations and the recent one was as soon as 3 days back. Let me point out 7 mistakes startups make on their demo day presentation.

Not communicating what they actually do

This mistake, though surprising, is very commonplace. While mentoring startups I come across so many pitches where the business itself is not clear. You have 5 to 7 minutes to present and you get so occupied about telling everything that you forget to share what you actually do. Seasoned investor Vinod Khosla once remarked about investor pitches, "80% of the presentations… you don’t even know what the problem is till 15 minutes into the presentation."

How to avoid this trap? Always start your presentation with a one-liner which describes what you really do and for whom. Do you sell software for schools? Have you made a mobile app which allows students to prepare for XYZ test? Spend the first 30 seconds explaining what you do before you jump onto your problem statement or story.

Speaking too fast

Given that a typical demo day presentation lasts for 5 to 7 minutes, you as a startup founder is going to be under tremendous pressure to share more and more. You have done so much work and have so much to say.

Inadvertently, founders end up speaking fast. That's because they want to cover more topics. This becomes a problem for the investors who are hearing your startup pitch for the first time on this demo day. The faster you speak, the lesser they understand. Slow down. Present to a group of friends and seek feedback before you go live on your demo day.

Not prepared for questions

Your judges and investors will have questions for you once you end. After your pitch, you will be allotted 3 to 5 minutes of Q&A time. You will be posed 3 to 5 questions at max and you need to be ready to answer these.

But startups often do not give a very convincing answer or answer some other question (which was not even asked). Once you have prepared your pitch, write down everything your audience can ask based on everything you are telling them (and not telling them) in your pitch. You might end up with a list of 20 questions. That's fine. Now prepare a small answer to each of these.

Not understanding the question before answering it

I have seen this happen quite often. The investor asks a question. The startup begins answering even before the question is complete. After the answer is over, the investor asks the question again.

Listen to the question and take your time. Think for a while and then begin to answer. If you are not clear on the question, seek clarification. The investor need not have asked a simple question and it is important for you to understand the question properly.

Going on talking about your product

As a startup founder you are extremely passionate about your product. After all you have built it with a lot of pain. Now here's the gap. Your audience has seen your product for the first time at this demo day and they do not care about it at all. Why should they?

While you might be fascinated about the 15 cool features your product has, which no other competitor can boast of - guess what? your audience does not care. All they are thinking is, "What's in it for me? Why should I pay attention to this?" Talk about the benefits more than features and move on quickly.

Sharing nothing which is exciting and worth remembering

Demo day presentations are busy affairs. Lots of startups are given the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the demo day. You are not the only one.

After sitting through 10 demo day presentations, the audience barely remembers anything you said and does not even remember your and your startup's name. That's the reality. What can you do about this? How do you ensure you register strongly into their minds. Because if you don't, you are not going to win.

The trick is in sharing two or three extremely exciting things about your startup. It could be a DID YOU KNOW fact or your traction or a story. Make your message exciting by speaking with passion, providing supporting facts, screenshots, demo or sharing a story.

Looking at slides and not rehearsing enough

This one is the most common among first timers. Unless you practice your demo day presentation 10 times before you take the stage, you will forget something and keep looking back at the slides.

There are three ways to avoid this. First, practice well so that you know your content very well. You know what's coming next. Second, have a laptop in front of you. Most organizers place a small screen in front of you where you can have a look at the slide. You can take a look once in a while. Never look back. Third, have very less words on the slide. There is nothing to read and no need to look back. Use your slides as an aid to amplify or clarify your message. There should not be much to be read because your audience won't reading more than a few words. Use a large image or a few words or a big and bold number.

25 Jul 2016

How to pitch your startup to investors - Best 15 Insightful Quotes

If you are a startup founder and are looking to pitch to investors for raising funding, you are going to absolutely love these quotes. I have compiled these 15 quotes from seasoned investors and entrepreneurs across the world to give you useful insights into making your startup investor pitch more compelling.

 "She (an entrepreneur) will use the first 5 minutes to earn the investor’s attention for the next 15 minutes, which in turn will interest the investor enough to listen for another 30 minutes." - Aaref Hilaly, Sequoia Capital 

“80% of the presentations… you don’t even know what the problem is till 15 minutes into the presentation.” - Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures 

"Never dismiss your competition. Everyone—customers, investors and employees—wants to hear why you’re good, not why the competition is bad." - Guy Kawasaki, Venture Capitalist 

"Your goal is not to give facts, but to fascinate your investor." - Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures

"The goal of your first pitch deck is to get a 2nd meeting with the investor. You are not trying to explain everything about your business that you think is interesting and important. You definitely are not expected (or wanted) to explain the gory details of how you will conduct your business, or to offer long-term detailed (and unsupportable) forecasts. You have to edit yourself to intrigue the investor sufficiently that they will agree to look more closely." - Dave Richards, Unitus Seed Fund 

"On Demo Day each startup will only get ten minutes, so we encourage them to focus on just two goals: (a) explain what you're doing, and (b) explain why users will want it." - Paul Graham, Y Combinator

"Open with your investment thesis, what prospective investors must believe in order to want to be shareholders of your company. Your first slide should articulate the investment thesis in generally 3 to 8 bullet points. Then, spend the rest of the pitch backing up those claims and increasing investors’ confidence in your investment thesis." - Reid Hoffman, co-founder LinkedIn

"Authenticity is important in your pitch, it cannot sound like you were reading it off a script. It has to sound natural, like you are saying the things you are saying the first time. However, you can be sure that you will fail miserably on the stage if you don’t practice beforehand because you think “Oh I will just come up with things on the stage and this way it will sound natural”. - Juhan Kaarma, Entrepreneur

"One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching to angel investors is bombarding them with data and boring PowerPoint slides instead of inspiring and engaging them." - Carmine Gallo, Communications Coach and Author

"Experienced investors know there are always risks. If they ask you about your risk factors and you can’t answer, you lose credibility because they assume you are either dishonest or dumb." - Reid Hoffman, co-founder LinkedIn

"My advice for first time founders who want to raise funding is almost always to put that thought aside until you have good traction. Instead, focus completely on traction. Focus on product/market fit. When you have good traction, it becomes much easier to raise funding." - Joel Gascoigne, co-founder Buffer

"People like stories. Our brains are wired to respond them. We recall facts better when they are embedded in narrative. Hollywood is the proof of their value. We pay lots of money for stories. Entertainment is a much bigger industry than venture capital because people like stories. Even a crappy game like Mass Effect 3 sells a million copies because it tells a story. So you should try to tell one, too. Why did you start your company? What do you want to achieve? Then drape the facts around that skeleton." - Peter Thiel, Author and co-founder PayPal

"There is nothing like a perfect pitch deck. People have their individual style, so don’t get stressed about finding the formula that fits all. However, the deck should capture the power of your idea and the potential value of your business and your capability to create this business in a very short concise manner — that is the perfect pitch deck." - Vani Kola, MD Kalaari Capital

"If you are an early stage company, at an angel stage, your financial plan only makes sense to you and nobody is going to believe it." - Rajan Anandan, VP Google SE Asia & India and Angel Investor

"The first and most important element of your presentation is not a slide: it’s you. Most investors base their decisions on the passion, charisma and clarity of the founder and the rest of the senior team. If you don’t demonstrate true fervor for your idea and opportunity, don’t expect anyone else to, either." - Bing Gordon, Partner - KPCB

4 Jul 2016

Laptops Down!!! - How to truly engage your audience while presenting?

This is a guest post by Sridevi Sarkar. Sridevi leads Consumer Insights & Strategic Planning for automotive practice in Google India. She blogs at sridevisarkar.co.in.

I have attended countless sessions and conferences, big & small - both within the companies I worked & outside. I have noticed mainly 3 categories of presentations that one makes:
  1. Shares one’s work (may or may not be one’s passion points)
  2. Shares one’s personal experiences/passion
  3. Shares information collated for the audience to know

Most of the presentations fall in the category 3 above. In many instances, the presenter or the organizer asks us to focus on the session by saying ‘this is a laptops down session’ (or these days ‘mobiles down’), but only occasionally I have come across presenters who are able to command the audience enough so that the audience won’t get distracted to their phones or laptops.

My learning from observations & experiences is that:
  • The presenter is the key, not the slides. The presenter is there to present something, the slides are not there to present themselves. Slides are meant to just be a guide to the presenter.
  • The key attribute while presenting is the eye-to-eye contact & the presenter is able to maintain the same only when he or she is not totally dependent on the slides.

Some of the benefits of maintaining eye-to-eye contact, which add to the presenter’s commanding the space are [you = presenter]:

1. Audience keeps looking at you throughout the presentation, avoiding any distraction. This leaves a great impact on the audience because they see the interest (& passion) in your eyes. The audience is very likely to be bound by a small amount of guilt on the idea of taking that phone call, and would try & avoid it.

2. Audience’s curiosity remains and they ask you for details, and won’t try to read & interpret the slides themselves. This helps build reliance & trust on you, even if anyone wants to get back in future with any questions or for any discussions, they would remember you & quote you. You would remain the custodian of the information.

3. You can have the slide represented in a manner that you like. Since you solely know & plan how to deliver the content, you are free to build the slides that best suit you & guide you when you present, for you to be able to do your best in achieving your objective.

4. Audience understands exactly what you want to convey to them. The only way the audience hears is when you speak, there is no other source for them to know any information during the presentation. This makes sure they hear exactly what you tell them and nothing else.

5. Audience takes notes. When you & your speech are the only source of information during the presentation, the audience would tend to take notes & there would be a high chance that they would refer to the notes later. This allows them to remember you more, recollect what you said; and the next time they notice you are presenting somewhere, there is a high likelihood that they would like to attend & popularize you.

Below are some guidelines that can help you achieve your ‘Laptops Down’ objective. These can be kept in mind while preparing the slides too. They are:

1. Never read from the slides. Have a piece of data or information or anything to guide you, on the slide & share the insight verbally as a story.

2. Never say what is coming in the next slide. I have come across multiple instances where the presenter says, “....that is what my next slide is..” and then navigates to the next slide. As much as possible, navigating & speech should go hand in hand.

3. No acronyms, dates etc. of the information on the slides. Acronyms should never be there, and the audience can always ask the presenter for the date.

4. Never say anything that you don’t exhibit. Long back I went to a ‘Time Management’ session which started 20 minutes late because the presenter reached late :)

5. Never say “This slide is self-explanatory”, then why are you there?

So, are we all ready to command “Laptops Down”?

The views expressed in the article are of the guest author and not of Jazz Factory. If you too want to contribute articles to our blog, contact vivek at jazz factory dot in.

27 Jun 2016

How to create a Company Profile Presentation that'll really impress your audience?

Do you know what makes a compelling company profile presentation? I have gone through 50 company profile presentations on the web and seen some good, some bad and some really ugly stuff. Here are few tips which will help you get your company profile presentation right.

1. Build a Presentation, not a Brochure

When building a company profile presentation that you'll upload on your website or email to your clients and business partners, always make a PowerPoint presentation. Company profiles made in MS Word are extremely difficult to read on a computer / tablet because they are in portrait mode (versus landscape mode of PowerPoint).
The above PDF slide (in portrait mode) is difficult to read and one has to zoom in and scroll very often. Contrast it with the one below from Continental. This one has been built for the laptop and tablet and its orientation is perfect. When we create a presentation, we always do it in landscape. Then why do we make a company profile presentation in portrait mode? Choose the right mode for the right medium.

2. Build a separate Presentation for online viewing

When building a company profile presentation, create two versions. One, for sharing online and the second for printing. The problem with 90% companies is that they make a company profile presentation as a brochure and then upload the same online. As we have seen in point 1 above, this does not work.

You need a print version which can have a bit more text. You will give it personally to people and they will be more inclined to read. But when you share your company profile online, you have to reduce the text and make it far more visual. The medium of viewing changes and so should your style.

Here is a page from the famous toy company LEGO's company profile.

Below is one from The Nielsen Company. LEGO has made pages in MS Word, Nielsen has made a PowerPoint slide. Thought not very visual, it is still much better than LEGO's. LEGO has simply uploaded their printable brochure online.

3. Build it with an objective in mind

Why do you need a company profile? I have seen so many company profiles which do not have any specific objective. They simply follow a template. Vision and mission, businesses, senior management / founders, milestones, etc. These profiles are nothing but different pieces of information placed in one document. There is no connect, no story.

Stop and ask yourself - What is the objective? What am I trying to achieve here? Do you want to share information, impress your audience, talk about your global scale of operations or talk about your innovation capabilities. Build a story.

Look at this slide. Does your audience want to know all this? Your philosophy, your rationale?

Most company profiles go to diverse audiences and we need to find common ground. Ideally, for every audience we need a tweaked version. Though ideal, this might not be practical all the time.

Nonetheless, write down your objectives on a piece of paper. Prioritize these objectives as primary and secondary and ensure the primary objectives are fulfilled and given precedence over secondary ones. Get all the stakeholders (department heads or directors) on the same page and get their green signal on this.

4. Customize it to your company. Don't stick blindly to any Template

We talked about template in the previous point. Most company profiles within each industry are similar because the first step people take is to collect and analyze the so called 'best practices'. Monkey see, monkey do. Thus everyone starts following a similar template and lose their individuality.

Company profile is a great place to showcase your culture and style. What defines you? What separates you as a company? Go ahead and showcase that. Here is an example of this from a new age company.


Ignore the usual template for a while. Start by writing down your objective. Prioritize them. Now write down everything you would want to tell your audience. Brainstorm and keep adding to this list. Once that is done, using the lens of your objectives, filter out content that is not crucial and what remains is the content that must find its place in the presentation. And yes, remember to add a bit of company culture to this mix.

5. Catch attention at the start and finish fast

Company profile presentations, like all other presentations, face the challenge of lack of attention. Your audience does not care about your company. They care about what your company can do for them. So keep your company profile as short as possible. Especially if it is being uploaded on your website or going to be shared with a potential client.

Make sure you have a snapshot slide early on. Use this slide to provide all the crucial information at one place. Place some catchy information at the start. Information that creates a wow factor. Information that is memorable and worth sharing.

11 Jun 2016

Video not playing in PowerPoint on Windows - Quick Time error [Solved]

Sam included a video in his PowerPoint (PPTX) file. The MP4 video and the PPTX file were in the same folder. He sent the entire folder to his friend. When his friend viewed the slideshow, the video did not play and gave an error message that 'Quick Time Player' was required to play the video.

MP4 and MOV videos will play in PowerPoint only when you have Apple's Quick Time Player installed on your system. While Quick Time Player is free, and you can surely install it, your recipient (client or colleague) might not have the player. Then what?

Convert the video into WMV (windows media video) format and then insert it in PowerPoint.

How to convert MP4 to WMV?
Download Movie Maker (Microsoft's free software for video editing) --> Open your MP4 video using Movie Maker or insert your video into Movie Maker --> File --> Save movie --> For computer or high-end display (choose the desired quality) --> Save as type WMV.

That's it. Your video should play now.

30 May 2016

Guest Post: Making an Impact in your Presentation

This is a guest post by Sridevi Sarkar.

Sridevi leads Consumer Insights & Strategic Planning for Automotive practice in Google India. Earlier, she has been a researcher in education, primarily focusing on how children think. She is a self-proclaimed writer and blog at sridevisarkar.co.in. She owns a pet and its (auto)biography website pet-a-dog.com. Recently, she has also started advising start-ups.

I have been a part of audiences as well as been a presenter in multiple situations. In this article, I want to provide my point of view on a particular type of presentations; presentations that are delivered by an individual to a large audience like events or forums.

These presentations are usually intended to convey key message or messages to a large audience.

For this situation/purpose, the best format is to use a big very relevant image and put a one-line text to convey the key message – the text can incorporate a stark data point too.

Example, Let us consider that the message to convey is “India is now a mobile market”.

While choosing the image, keep in mind that the image should depict India. Often we use images with foreign contexts and faces because of the lack of images with Indian faces or because the foreign images look fancier. However, we should try and pick up an image as close to India as possible – both in context and the faces (if any) used.

See the below image. This image is of a very famous Indian festival and shows a lot of people using their mobile phones to click pictures. This image also depicts that Indians are using their mobile phones to click pictures apart from calling.

Now see the below images. They may NOT be conveying the right message. The old lady talking on a phone may look very forced.

The below image is more like a photography pose.

Let us now consider another example, suppose the message to be conveyed is “Indian youth is addicted to mobile devices”.

Now, this message is best conveyed with a number connotation. So it is best that there is data point mentioned along with the image. The below image can be used as it shows many young Indians on their phones during their daily routine. And it can be accompanied by a text that says “90% of 18-24 see their mobile phones at least once every 5 minutes.”

So, to conclude, the two slides to convey these messages can look like below:


As in the above slide, one can modify the position of the text box to clearly show the image. Also, it is totally incorrect to not use the sources of the data or the pictures. We could just say “Source: Google Images” for images and put the exact source for any data point that we use.

Such presentations are also used by people sharing their inspirational journey. They usually put up a small image or a phrase and talk a lot on each slide on the idea behind that image or the phrase.

Guest author: Sridevi Sarkar

The views expressed in the article are of the guest author and not of Jazz Factory. If you too want to contribute articles to our blog, contact vivek at jazz factory dot in.