I often get asked to review a pitch deck or help with a pitch deck, and I cannot help but wonder, is a pitch deck what they really need, or do they need an executive summary?
I ask this, because personally, I’m not particularly eager to hand out my pitch deck. I like to present over top of my pitch deck. So, when someone asks for information on a project, I usually provide them with an executive summary. The executive summary, as the name says, is a summary of the project in short form, a page or two usually, and is meant to give an overview to someone such that when they get done reading it, they can either say they are interested in more or not interested.
Great, but what should I include in my executive summary?
What should you include in an executive summary is a great question, because you don’t want to be too short, and you don’t want to make it too long that it reads like a business plan. Typically, you’re going to want to include the following:
- Business Overview - The goal is to grab the reader’s attention, demonstrate credibility and show your company has momentum.
- The Problem - The goal of this section is to provide the reader with the background information they need in order to be impressed by your solution. (Don’t repeat what you already wrote in the Overview section. Instead, provide new and additional information)
- Your Solution - Describe your solution. Focus on benefits the to the customer instead of product features. (What is in it for them?)
- Company Traction - The goal is to show how far you’ve come and that your company has momentum.
- Go-To-Market Plan - The goal of this section is to show you have a well-thought-out plan moving forward. This plan must be clear and convincing.
- Competition - Who is your competition (direct, indirect & potential)?
- Executive Team - The goal of this section is to show you have a credible team capable of executing the plan you just described. Focus on what each team member brings to the company.
- Financial Projections - This is the section where you seal the deal. In the commentary preceding your projections, summarize the main points on why this is a huge opportunity and the investment deal of a lifetime.
- Budget / Ask - Describe the budget breakdown for around the next 12-18 months. If you are using this document to raise money, this is where you tell the reader what you are asking for and discuss why the investment will pay off.
- Summary - Use this final section as an opportunity to “summarize” why you will likely be acquired eventually. Get the reader excited about how much money everyone involved with your company is going to make.
Once you have your executive summary completed, it is always good to run it by your team to ensure they feel the document encapsulates the proper description, explanation, and financial snapshot of your business. Also, if there are advisors to your company, or possibly a board, it is always a good idea to get their opinion as well.
Another resource I often recommend when talking to individuals about their company and fundraising is a data room or place to put their documents. While DropBox, Google Drive or a shared file system will always work, I have found using DocSend to be very valuable as you are able to require the user to provide email information, so you know who is reading your documents. DocSend also gives you the option to add a confidentiality gate by putting a NDA on the platform which requires the user to sign prior to reviewing all your documents.
So, as you’re looking to go to market with your product and making an ask for resources from your community and network or investors, take the time to boil down your business plan to an executive summary that you can utilize.