I was recently giving a talk about venture capital to a group of entrepreneurs. In the question and answer session following the talk, an entrepreneur asked why the Contact page of our website simply features an email address where entrepreneurs can get in touch with us rather than detailed guidance on what information to include in the correspondence. Since my answer may be useful to many entrepreneurs as they prepare to seek outside funding, I’m including it here. For your reference, here’s a link to our website’s Contact page: http://www.aslanobacapital.com/contact/
Fortunately the answer is not that we were too lazy to include the exact information which we’re looking to see in order to evaluate a startup. Rather, the lack of guidance on our Contact page is premeditated. Not including the detailed information we’re looking to see in a business plan serves as a great initial filter when evaluating incoming opportunities. If the key information required to form a preliminary judgment on a business isn’t included in the correspondence, we don’t move forward with evaluating the startup.
At a minimum, the information required includes the problem which the startup is addressing, the proposed solution and how it’s different from existing solutions, the size of the market targeted by this solution, and how the team is uniquely positioned to execute on this proposed solution.
In case an entrepreneur doesn’t already know that investors need this basic information to evaluate a business, we’re fortunate to live in the information age. Search engines like Google provide access to a rich library of sources which distill the key elements of a business plan. Being willing and able to perform this search to understand how to approach an outside investor, and following through on the learnings of the search, are strong positive indicators of entrepreneurial potential.
If you’re looking for more in depth information than what’s available through a Google search, you can also take courses on the topic at online education platforms like Udemy and Skillshare. No matter what your work or educational background may be, today’s technologies provide little excuse for an entrepreneur to reach out to investors unprepared.