This is the second in a series of posts on writing a presentation for raising venture capital. In this post I will cover the Overview section of a venture pitch (click here for a complete list of the various sections). The Overview should come right after the introduction to the team and in many ways is the most important part as it introduces the following topics –
- A large and growing market
- Background on the market
- A specific pain customers have in the market
- A channel that would allow a venture funded company to gain a foothold in the market
As promised I’ll walk through the Overview section of the Data Robotics seed funding deck to illustrate how this might be achieved. Click on any slide to see a larger version of that slide.
Here is the first Overview slide from the original Data Robotics deck, entitled Opportunity. The top level bullet mentions that the small business channel had little in the way of storage solutions despite strong demand, thus identifying our overall target market as Small Business Storage. Underneath are more details starting with the fact that the SMB storage market was growing very rapidly and that the overall market size was measured in billions of dollars (this is the right level of scale to get venture folks interested). Growth from $2B to $7B certainly qualifies this market as large and growing. Next the slide explains that the existing products were created with a technology unsuited for small business employees being designed instead for the enterprise market. Also it’s mentioned that the price point for these products is too high. So now we’ve identified a pain point both for the customer and channel. Finally it mentions that the channel is looking for new products for this market.
So we’ve already, in one slide, met all of the points that I outlined above as the goals for our Overview. Is our work here is done? Not so fast…
At this point we’ve expressed a lot of opinions about our target market but assuming the venture folks being pitched aren’t already subject area experts we’ve done little to add any credibility to our claims. Now we need to provide proof points and more detailed analysis.
The next slide introduces IDC’s analysis of the market. IDC was the first large scale analyst firm to look at the growth of small business storage. Seeing their landmark presentation in 2004 on how most of the storage revenue was moving from high end and mid-range business systems to the SMB and home storage markets was certainly instrumental in my decision to found Data Robotics. This slide is a copy from their presentation. Having a large firm like IDC backing your market predictions provides a solid foundation for your claims.
This next slide is from an IDC storage report and was included to establish that the market size figures provided in the first slide in the Overview were correct ($2B growing to $7B) also providing the timeframe for the change.
Okay. So now we’d established that the main storage players weren’t in our market but clearly somebody already was. The next slide showed the players in the market at the time and placed them on a graph of Fit For Environment vs. Price Suitability. By Fit For Environment we meant RAID which we felt was easier for customers to use vs. NAS which we felt was more difficult. By Price Suitability we meant affordability. My memory is a little hazy but I think these terms were coined by Ken Rosen (@ken_rosen on twitter) one of the Data Robotics co-founders. The important thing was that our solution was top-right on the chart, the best place on any Gartner chart! We were the most affordable and very simple to use. It’s worth noting that we were establishing this positioning well ahead of any discussion about what we were actually going to build. This is different from most initial pitches I see but always works well in my experience. Establish the $$ available and then explain the technology that will deliver them.
So the key takeaways on writing the Overview for a venture deck are –
- A large and growing market
- A simple to outline customer pain
- A defensible way to enter the market
 Ironically I now work at Overland Storage which sells two of the products listed as unsuitable on this slide. The world is a small place, the storage market doubly so…
 If I wrote the presentation again I’d remove the bullets as there is only one headline bullet so an indented bullet list seems odd. I suspect that in some variation of the pitch there were more top level bullets that were removed to make the story simpler
You can see a miniture version of the orignal included on the slide to prove authenticity