VIRAL Level(s): 1, 2, 3, 4
VIRAL Level 2: Setting your Vision
You’ve got a team that is ready to go, and a vision you’re excited about.
You likely don’t have revenue yet, but you’re starting to interact with customers and really take your product into prime-time.
What investors at this stage are likely to like about your business:
You’ve identified a large, important, solvable problem. People back stories, not business models. Tell a story about why this problem is an issue–whether it’s an individual who experiences the problem, or a macro-story. Talk in “before and after” terms about how you will solve it. And put some numbers (people, dollars, negative social or environmental impact) about why the current problem is such a big deal.
- Your team. Your team likely has personal experience with the problem–that has given you the idea and ability to solve it. Tell your personal story as well. If you’re in deep student debt and solving the student debt crisis-share that! Talk about your team’s lived experience that makes you confident you can solve it.
- Your customer focus.Who is your “bulls-eye” customer? It’s better at this stage to be “specific and wrong” than “vague and right.” For example, eBay’s first customer was not “buyers and sellers,” but “sellers of hard-to-find collectibles.” You likely have a couple of initial customers/users who can simplify why you’re doing what you’re doing so tell an anecdote about one of them. Give them a name.
What investors at this stage are likely to ask questions about:
We like your vision; how do we know that your team has the technical experience to solve the problem?
Make sure you highlight you and your team’s experience. If it’s a tech platform–who will write code? If it’s a business-to-business sales platform, who knows the industry enough to make progress with buyers? Talk about how your team has not just great ideas, but the chops to execute.
- What is the specific problem you’re solving–for your customer? As Thomas Edison once said, “vision without execution is hallucination.” We have seen a graveyard of “solutions looking for problems to solve.” Get tactical about how you can solve this for your customer. You might want to try this simple “Mad Lib”: “We sell A to B. B has a problem, and it is C. We solve C through D.” Let’s take, for example, Google. “We sell consumer data to advertisers. Advertisers have a problem, and it is that they don’t know how to reach the right audience online. We solve this problem through the world’s best search engine, which gives advertisers highly customized information.”
- What’s your plan to get the idea in front of customers?Get tactical about the next three, six, nine months. How many people will you talk to? When will the product or service be ready to sell? What do you know? What do you not know? What do you need to raise money to find out (and what will you spend it on?)