Having decided to seek investors, one of the next steps is to prepare an Executive Summary.
Access to capital to complete the development of products, technologies or platforms to deliver services – and to then to rapidly scale the growth capacity of their business – is a nearly ubiquitous need for entrepreneurs with a big vision. One option for companies with high-growth potential is to seek qualified investors. An entrepreneur considering this route should do his or her homework first.
Understand your goals. Talk with trusted advisors about your financial needs, options for meeting them and implications of each possibility. Consult with resources such as your state’s Department of Commerce or Securities Commissioners Office before soliciting investors. Learn about the experiences of other entrepreneurs who have sought and worked with investors and about what investors are looking for. Research what investment groups or individual investors might be interested in your company.
Having decided to seek investors, one of the next steps is to prepare an Executive Summary. Here are some tips.
Keep in mind that your potential investors are likely to busy people with many demands on their attention. Write in the 3rd person so that the document looks professional and also so that they remember who you are while they are reading. Keep the paragraphs short. Limit yourself, ideally to 1 -2 pages, but to no more than 3. Use graphics or images if they help make your points more clearly than words alone do.
Put your bottom line up front. What is your company? What problem are you working on solving? What are you asking for?
Then go into details.
• What is the problem that you are solving? Why should anyone care? How are you solving it? What is the market for this solution? Why is solution original or better than competing solutions?
• What success have you had so far in solving the problem? What are the indicators that key resources believe in your potential for success? For example, have you won any grants or received interest from government agencies or other potential big customers?
Keep in mind that you are writing for investors who want expectation of a return.
• Who is the management team? What, if any, success have they had in commercialization of products/technologies/services? What other credentials do they possess that demonstrate their capability for moving this solution and this company forward toward successful commercialization?
• What is your business model? What is the commercial potential for your products/technologies/services? What, realistically, could potential gross revenues and net profits look like?
• What is the expected structure for investment and what is the expected strategy for investors to receive a return? If this requires the sale of the company, what is your exit strategy? What is the anticipated timeframe for return on investment?
Invite a connection. Sometimes the difference between interest and investment is having the opportunity to go into more depth on the proposal in person.
At the Kansas SBDC, one of our main areas of advising in working with our clients is access to capital. Our business advisors can help evaluate needs and options, assist with market research and cash flow projections, and connect entrepreneurs with valuable resources to help them along the road to commercialization.
Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.
Washburn University SBDC
America’s SBDC Kansas