I was never one of those people who rushed to get everything done early. I’m as likely as you are to put things off. So this morning I’m looking at 30 plans on Gust to be discussed this evening when we meet as the Willamette Angel Conference to take the first steps towards an investment decision in May. I started after dinner last night and I will have reviewed all 30 before I leave for the meeting in the late afternoon.
What does this mean if you’re one of the plans submitted? Here’s what I think this process means to the entrepreneur:
- My process and my procrastination is not unusual. A lot of investors are going to work like we do, using quick views not to select plans but to rule some out.
- I consider the information posted on Gust sufficient to rule out a plan. Implicitly that means it’s also enough to take an initial 30 plans down to 10, 12, or 15 we want to look at in more detail.
- I’m immediately grateful to the startups that help me with this by using the Gust feature of posting a short video to help me get acquainted. When it’s done well, it makes a good first impression. But a bad video doesn’t help, and I’m looking for the best investment, not the best video.
- The writing in (executive) summaries, descriptions and the overall business plan should not get in the way of the information. I’m not critical of style unless it interferes. I want formatting to make it easy to read and find the information I want.
- I always want there to be a business plan available even if I’m not going to necessarily read it yet.
- I’m definitely not going to start at the beginning of the plan and read to the end. But I want to have the plan available because I want to go from the general statements to specifics, so I’m likely to look for specific things in a plan.
- What I look for depends on the plan itself, but to give you examples, I want to make sure a business-to-business startup understands the sales cycle and what receivables do to cash flow. And with a lot of plans I want to see the percentages in expenses. And with most I want to see founders’ salaries.
- I’ll go into a plan quickly and I want to find what I’m looking for quickly and leave. Think of it like guerrilla plan reading. I’m going to be rating a startup lower if the information I want isn’t there or if I can’t find it.
I hope that my sharing here helps you if you’re on the other side of the table from me. If it makes you feel better, I started on your side of the table too.