Learn To Be

How to Build a Perfect Pitch-Deck

When you see about 20 pitch decks a week over 15 years, you see A LOT of repeat mistakes. Many argue that there are different ways to create a pitch deck. This, however, is only half true. There is actually only one right way of building a pitch deck. Think about building a house. Every house needs a foundation, frame, walls, windows, paint, etc. A house can have its unique design and characteristics, but without the proper structure it can collapse. This too applies to your pitch deck. It’s all about the Story. Entrepreneurs often are confused by the term “Story”.  A story is not adding meaningless details, jokes or anecdotes.   Stories captivate, inspire and influence the audience you are pitching to. If done right it will get you closer to getting the deal you are hoping for.  For maximum impact, here are the slides you must have in your pitch deck.

The Introductory Slide:

Captivate your audience by introducing your company, explaining what you do and why you do it!

The Need:

The need is caused by the problem you are aiming to solve with your product. Essentially, the problem is the villain of your story. As seen in any superhero movie, the villain is a very complex and multifaceted character. The same goes for the problem you have identified. Here is where you, the entrepreneur, explain the gap/problem/challenge that must be solved. This is best told in a story. You can choose to tell your own story, that of a friend, family member, or the user persona. You can even frame your presentation in a way that permits for a story telling technique. Include a clear and concise problem statement.

The External Environment and Market Potential:

This slide is crucial for your deck. Basically, it explains, why you and why now. Going into detail about the external environment and market potential also includes some number crunching. The TAM (Total Addressable Markets), SAM (Segmented Addressable Markets) and SOM (Share of Market) will give an indication of the market size. Don’t forget to address the values of the markets, what was spent on similar solutions in previous years, etc.  Additionally, go over market trends among users that show a shift in behaviour. What is essential to highlight is that you’re working within a growing and profitable market!

Competitive analysis:

The goal here is to showcase your understanding of the market and its competitors. In order to do this in the best light you must highlight how you differentiate yourself from the competition. Visually, you can do so by preparing a quadrant or petal-diagram showing how you measure up to your competitors, listing them by name. More specifically, explain why you are better, what you understand that they don’t, what makes your product better, and what is your unfair advantage against them. Your differentiation statement will be the highlight.

The Solution:

Your solution is the “hero” of your story. For every quality your villain possesses, your hero embodies a counterpart. Not only does a hero come save the day, but it has also earned the trust and respect of a loyal group of people that rely on the hero. Describe how you are solving the issue with a simple solution sentence. A solution sentence should be formulated as such: we’re doing X (solving a problem), for Y (for a specific audience) by Z (what are you? A Platform/app/solution/tool, etc.). Don’t forget to mention your secret ingredient that is allowing you to do this. When showcasing your demo make sure to clearly portray the user experience, all relevant features, and what makes it beneficial to specific users. But remember, keep it simple!

The Business Model:

When presenting your business model the purpose is to describe your main revenue model (ex. Subscription, ads, affiliate, revenue share, etc.) Additional revenue streams should be mentioned as well. Describe the milestones you’ve reached in funding, product, users, revenue, growth, endorsements, partnerships, etc. If you haven’t reached any major milestones yet, that too is okay. Make sure to give a truthful depiction of where you are at, and use some metrics to help illustrate this.

Go-to-Market Plan:

You must showcase the strategies that will allow you to penetrate the market and gain users. More specifically, if you are a dealing with different consumer groups you must indicate the different channels you plan to use to acquire each customer. Specify the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) for all. Even though you might not have money at the start, you may have plans of putting together a sales team, establish strategic partnerships, distribution channels, content market and social campaigns. Makes sure to vocalize all of these elements.

Moving forward:

Here is where you get to the aftermath, hoping your hero is triumphant. You present a short-term and long-term plan for your business moving forward. Any exciting additional features or products in that you intend to explore? Plan on using new revenue streams? This is where you showcase the bigger vision you have for your business! Don’t forget to present your KPIs.

Roadmap and Round Objectives:

When going over your funding requirements, list the main allocations such as R&D, Sales and Marketing, Team Expansion, etc. Your “round objective” should indicate where you wish to be when you get to the next round of funding (for example: this will take us X months and X users/revenue/downloads, to breakeven and have positive cash flow).

The Team:

The Conclusion:

 

Whether your presentation has many, or very little slides is not of importance. Some superhero get one movie, while others get numerous sequels. This does not make one better than the other. What is important is that you have communicated your ideas simply and efficiently. Utilizing storytelling, while also using the essential founding elements for a pitch deck is the only way of getting the investor interested.

 

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Reflecting on the Past 18 years

Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflecting on the past, and anticipating what is to come. As this year is ProMontreal Entrepreneurs (PME)’s 18th anniversary, this Rosh Hashana is rather special. PME has come a long way since 1999. What started off as a small initiative to support Montreal-based businesses, has become a community movement that has much to be proud of. Over the years, the PME program has helped countless people scale their businesses, receive business training and coaching and connect to investors and mentors. Through our PME fund, we have helped propel and create over 71 startups that have created  over 800 jobs and have an estimated value of over 45 million dollars.

Without question, making PME a success takes a village. Thankfully for us, the village behind our success is one of support and unity. As a matter of fact, one of our greatest assets is our PME committee, comprised of a dedicated group of community leaders working to help our entrepreneurs reach higher levels of success. Along with our group of accomplished and knowledgeable mentors, the committee assists our entrepreneurs in solving the short term and long-term problems of their businesses. The bond built between all parties affiliated with PME reinforces the values of education and community.

Though the past 18 years have given us much to be proud of, we equally look forward to new beginnings. As PME expands and branches out into new endeavors, this will be another year of new challenges and accomplishments. In order to further reinforce PME’s mission of helping young entrepreneurs, we hope to develop new ways of collaborating with diverse entrepreneurs by helping them ignite their business ideas.

All in all, while we will continue to bring life into business in this coming year, we wish all members of the Jewish community a shana tova!

Why PME

Taglit’s Startup Innovation Center

In its short history, Israel has managed to become one of the world’s few startup capitals. It has become the startup nation with the third most companies listed on NASDAQ. Given Israel’s population of 9 million, various internal and external conflicts, and lack of natural resources, it has accomplished what most would consider to be impossible. Tel Aviv has built a reputation that reflects more than its beautiful beaches. Just go visit Taglit’s Innovation Center to see exactly what we are talking about.

The Innovation Center at the heart of Tel Aviv aims to display new advancements of Israeli Start-Ups in different fields. In collaboration with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Taglit-Birthright built the “State of Mind” Innovation Center. It provides an opportunity to talk about the fact that this sliver of land has over 4,000 operating startups. Visitors can learn about Israel as an international leader in technology, engineering, and philanthropy. More specifically, ground-breaking inventions for agriculture, medicine, transportation, security, and outer space are displayed. What is unique about the Innovation Center is that it emboldens user interaction. The center puts up touch screens, tutorials and prototypes, allowing for visitors to explore and understand various innovations. This way people can understand exactly why the country is deserving of its “Startup Nation” title.

Each Taglit-Birthright group that visits the Innovation Center begins by exploring the interactive exhibition, and continues with a meet-up with a Ieading Israeli entrepreneur. Here are the names of just a few start-ups displayed at the Innovation Center that is destined to make revolutionary impact.

  • Electroad: This technology uses energy from the road to power electric vehicles using that road. Copper chains are inserted into grooves in the asphalt, then connected to a power converter on the side of the road that links to the city’s electric grid. This will revolutionize transport.

  • Pillcam: A tiny camera in a capsule. After the patient swallows the capsule, the camera can reveal any abnormalities and supplies essential medical diagnosis. A tiny wireless camera contained in an easy-to-swallow and disposable capsule about the size of a vitamin pill transmits images as it travels through the human body. This inventions makes excruciating exams, such as colonoscopies, much more endurable.

  • Skyfi: It is the world’s most advanced nanosatellite with larger cover area and bandwidth. This allows for better connection between more people, allowing us to become part of a global village. Basically, this is a much cheaper way of spreading internet globally.

Each startup begins with a need. Taglit Birthright had an unmet need to show groups the innovation side of Israel; and thus the center was born. The center was originally intended for Taglit participants, but curiosity and interest arose quickly. Now the center also hosts governmental and business delegations from all over the world, a variety of private and group tourist organizations, and all kinds of people who want a glimpse into the Israeli innovation scene.

Former Prime Minister Golda Meir famously said the God had made a mistake in sending the Jews to the only country in the Middle East with no oil. While it is true that oil may have made things easier, lack thereof has, without a doubt, forced Israel to find new and innovative ways to survive and transcend all expectations.

Top 5 Legal Advice for Startups

legal. advice startupsStarting your own business is an overwhelming process. In addition to all tasks you must accomplish in building your product or service, there are certain legal concepts you must understand. This will help you make the best decisions for your start-up. What may seem minor at the moment can have a large impact on your business in the future. Here is our list of the most important legal concepts entrepreneurs need to understand.

1. Why incorporation is necessary:

Incorporating your business has countless advantages. For one, it limits your personal liabilities. Limited liability means that a shareholder is not liable for the debts incurred by the company. To add, when your company is incorporated, shareholders usually only have rights against the corporation itself and not its owner. Of course, unless fraud is committed. Incorporating comes with advantages tax-wise as well. This includes lower income tax rates. It is also important for you to understand the difference between federal and provincial incorporation. One is not necessarily better than the other. It all depends on the nature of your business and the vision you have for it. The main difference between both is that federal incorporation will allow for you to do business across the country under a same business name, even if some other company is already using a similar name in a given province or territory. However, you are only able to operate from a given jurisdiction if you have incorporated provincially. So incorporating in Quebec, for instance, doesn’t mean you can’t do business nationally. It just means that you are required to operate your business from Quebec.

2. Why a shareholders agreement is needed:

While everything can go as planned at the early stages of business development, this may not always be the case. You and your business partner may disagree on issues like how to grow your business, what to do when unable to make a unanimous decision, or what would happen in a time of death or injury. A shareholders agreement is way to minimize potential business disputes between owners by clarifying how decisions are to be made. It also sets the stage for the procedure during a dispute resolution. Because it portrays a sense of stability, having a shareholders agreement also assists with funding from investors and potential business partners.

3. Why trademarks are important:

Protecting your business name and logo is crucial. If you don’t protect your name and logo at the very least, any business founded after yours has the right to use it and, more importantly, trademark it as their own. Having your name and logo trademarked will allow for legal recourse against those trying to use a same or similar logo or name. Your trademark will also appear when other entrepreneurs conduct a trademark search. The Canadian trademark registration process is fairly straightforward. All information can be found on the Government of Canada website. Remember that in order to trademark a logo or name, you must use it. Use it or lose it!

4. Avoiding legal problems with my employees

Navigating through the basics of employment law is necessary to avoid costly lawsuits. This should come with the understanding that company founders, like all others working in the company, should be classified as either contractors, or employees, and be compensated as such. For instance, founders can be paid with options, shares and restricted stock units only if they are classified as contractors. Otherwise, all people classified as employees must be paid minimum wage at the very least. In many cases, start-ups often look to hire unpaid interns. Though this may seem like a financially sound decision, hiring unpaid interns comes with its own set of guidelines and details. Unpaid internships are not permitted in Quebec, unless they fall under the three narrow circumstances listed in Quebec’s ALS (An Act Respecting Labor Standards). Because unpaid internships are becoming more popular you must ensure that you are complying with the regulations of the ALS. With labor laws constantly changing you must also remain informed on employment contracts, workplace injuries, and regulation on overtime.

5. Understand equity financing:
If you’re going down the route of equity financing you must understand the difference between equity and preference shares. Equity shares are ordinary company shares. Meaning that the amount of shares held by an owner is the portion of their ownership in the company. On the other hand, preference shares get priority over equity shares. This means that preference share owners get precedence on matters like distribution of dividend, and repayment of capital during liquidation. There are however, different types of preference shares depending on the amount of power you are willing to give away. This includes, participating preference shares, non-participating preference shares, convertible shares, non-convertible shares, cumulative shares and non-cumulative shares. Since equity financing involves trading partial ownership for capital, your control may be more diluted as a result. The real question is how much influence you’re willing to give up and legal repercussions involved.

You may be wondering whether spending money on a lawyer so early in the game is necessary. You may also contemplate taking on the legal work on your own. What you should keep in mind is that there are certain aspects of running a business that should not be compromised. You should not be looking to save money when it comes to legal activity. It is may be costly now, but suffering the consequences of lack of legal expertise will cost you a lot more later on.