I find that when entrepreneurs "see how the sausage is made" is helps them design their own documents and presentations to get through the gauntlet. Today I am pre-screening new deals coming into my angel group.
Some samples from today’s pre-screening (anonymized):
- "Combining a known product with a fresh design and new technology, we have created a brand new tricycle for active adults." – I see what kind of company it is right away (bikes) and a hint about target market. The opening language tries to decrease apparent risk by implying it is using proven tech in a new way. Their language choice doesn’t QUITE do it for me, but it is a good approach. The entrepreneurs are local and used their network to get an introduction to me a few months back. They then listened to advice I gave them in developing their documentation. I have a few folks in my group with expertise in the bike market. Time Spent: 10 seconds (+1.5 hour consultation a few months ago :)). Decision: refer to my bike experts.
- "[CompanyName] will assemble, manufacture and market light sport aircraft for the general aviation light sport markets in the U.S., North and Central America." Based many hours away from us. Did not come in via our formal application system (came in to me via email without referral). We have no domain expertise. Time: 30 seconds. Decision: Decline.
- "Next generation 900 numbers. Click, Pay and Call with video." – Slick opening line. Clear, made me want to read more. I spent a minute watching their elevator pitch video and reviewing documentation. My group doesn’t have the right domain expertise and there is nothing else in the materials that shows a clear fit. Time spent: 1.5 minutes. Decision: Decline.
- "Revolutionize our high school classrooms by bringing the power of the digital age to our Students, Teachers, and Parents." – This is a completely undifferentiated description. I have seen tons of companies claiming the same thing, all with wildly different offerings. So I have no idea what this is. No indication of momentum / credibility. Time: 30 seconds. Decision: Decline.