How long should a good venture capital proposal be? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Shane Luke, Start-up Founder & CEO, Fmr. CPO Recon (acq. by Intel), Fmr. Investment Analyst, on Quora:

My personal favorite guide to making a pitch deck (which is what most VC proposals are based on), comes from Sequoia Capital: Sequoia - Writing a Business Plan. It's short, direct, and focused on what matters most in a pitch context.

A deck like that will usually be 12-15 slides. Note, though, there are no hard and fast rules, so you can take a different route if you prefer. Regardless of the format you choose, I suggest keeping the following in mind:

  • Unless you're a very hot prospect (if you aren't 100% sure, then you aren't), you usually have just a few minutes in your first meeting to pass gate 1, which is piquing some interest. Make sure your very first slide says something you think will get their attention.
  • Even though you are marketing yourself and your company, it's in a B2B context to a professional audience. So, avoid consumer-style marketing BS and vague or meaningless statements. E.g. don't say "we are revolutionizing agriculture". Instead, make a direct problem/solution statement, like "we increase crop yield in arid regions by 50%". While some VCs might be taken in by BS, the best will not, and you lose nothing by being explicit and factual.
  • Make sure you know the market and any competitors well. VC's rarely know much about technology (there are exceptions), but they often know a lot about technology markets. It might be mostly "survey" knowledge, which is somewhat superficial, but it will likely be broad. You don't want to appear like you haven't thought about competitors or the dynamics of the market you are entering.
  • If you have a lot of content you think is valuable, but won't fit in the right amount of slides, it's fine to put it in appendices. The VC's probably won't read those, but if they are interested, they will get their associates to go over them as part of analysis.

Good luck!

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Published on: Feb 13, 2018