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):
"[CompanyName] replaces local newspaper advertisement, coupon circulars and other traditional options with effective online brand advertising delivered to [CompanyName] rich demographic of local organizations and their members… [CompanyName] is a unique on-demand Cloud service for local volunteer organizations (youth sports teams, churches, civic associations, etc.) and the families that they serve powered by a local advertising business model. [CompanyName] provides organizations, families and their communities functionality not previously available, integrated with an empowering and unique fundraising component. [CompanyName] provides local businesses a level of effective advertising previously not available through traditional options or online"
This is undifferentiated. We’ve seen lots of plays roughly like this. Nothing they frontloaded screams credibility – is there a killer team? Great initial clients? Generating revenue (good!). Based in the Midwest (outside our range criteria = bad). Referred by another angel group we swap dealflow with (good!). Given my group’s lack of expertise in these kinds of plays, the distance, and the company’s undifferentiated application text, this is unattractive. Time spent: 1 minute. Decision: decline.
"[CompanyName]’s LED Lighting System saves you money and has more features than the competition… [CompanyName] is focused on commercializing its LED lighting intellectual property to the worldwide lighting market. [CompanyName] LED System saves the consumer cost, has better light, a longer lifetime, and is more efficent. [CompanyName]’s unique I.P. allows for advanced features such user adjustable lamp color and the use wireless control from any internet connected device. [CompanyName] is an early stage company founded in 2010 by consumer electronic executives"
Spelling error in summary (bad). Good indication of problem & solution & benefits (good). Implication team has domain expertise (so-so, would have been better if they showed an accomplishment). They’ve been around for about a year and remembered to tell us (so-so). Implied they have IP (so-so, just about everyone claims they have good IP). Lightly referred to us by an angel group we like (good). Based on the west coast (bad, too far). Included a video, but sadly it was a product demo instead of an investor pitch demo (so-so). Pre-money is $2/5 million even though they are pre-revenue (bad). Time: 1 minute. Decison: decline.
"[CompanyName] provides a proven rating system to identify athletic ability and potential for students, coaches and the sports industry… [CompanyName] is a platform for identifying and promoting the athletic abilities of the 7 million high school student-athletes at the base of the U.S. intercollegiate athletics market where 75,000 students participate in NCAA sports in more than 1,000 U.S. colleges. We use a proven talent identification system that provides intelligence and critical decision-making data to bring unique advantages to athletes, colleges and the sports industry"
From this text I have only a vague idea of what it is they do (bad). Lots of data points hinting there is a real market (so-so, everyone makes claims, but at least they are quantifying it!). Lightly referred by an angel group we like (good). Located within two-hours of us (so-so). Included a video full of testimonials from happy customers (good) and a SVP from a Sport Equipment brand so big even I know about it (GREAT!). This is a case where even thought the text of the application is pretty poor, the traction implied from the video makes me want to proceed. Time spent: 5 minutes. Decision: Include in packet to bounce by all members of my angel group.