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The founder of a company I'm an adviser to recently asked me for tips on creating a PowerPoint presentation for his upcoming investor roadshow. He asked me to send him a copy of the best deck I've ever seen.

Wow. I've seen some really excellent presentations, but the best ever? His question let me on a search through my hard drive, my phone book, and the web - on a quest for the best investor presentation format.

Over the next few days, I'll be publishing the finalists - starting today with the 'classic' plan format recommended by Sequoia Capital. Note: watch the video below, in conjunction with the slideshow above, and you'll get a great replay of Jim Goetz's presentation to Stanford students.

Sequoia Capital "Ten Slide" Format

There aren't many VCs that are as successful, well-resourced, and broadly-focused (i.e. across multiple industries) as Sequoia Capital. Here's their published list of what should go into your ten-slide deck (you should check out their excellent "Elements of Sustainable Companies recommendations as well):

1. Company Purpose

  • Define the company/business in a single declarative sentence (Important Note: Sequoia partner Jim Goetz says that only about 1 in every 15 entrepreneurs they see are able to do this successfully)

2. Problem

  • Describe the pain of the customer (or the customer's customer).

  • Outline how the customer addresses the issue today.

3. Solution

  • Demonstrate your company's value proposition to make the customer's life better.

  • Show where your product physically sits.

  • Provide use cases.

4. Why Now?

  • Set-up the historical evolution of your category.

  • Define recent trends that make your solution possible.

5. Market Size

  • Identify/profile the customer you cater to.

  • Calculate the TAM [Total Available Market] (top down), SAM [Served Available Market] (bottoms up) and SOM [Share of Market].

6. Competition

  • List competitors

  • List competitive advantages

7. Product

  • Product line-up (form factor, functionality, features, architecture, intellectual property).

  • Development roadmap.

8. Business Model

  • Revenue model

  • Pricing

  • Average account size and/or lifetime value

  • Sales & distribution model

  • Customer/pipeline list

9. Team

  • Founders & Management

  • Board of Directors/Board of Advisors

10. Financials

  • P&L

  • Balance sheet

  • Cash flow

  • Cap table

  • The deal

Pros: It's all in here. I love the focus that 'a single declarative sentence' enforces. The business model elements in Slide 8 are nicely thought-out 'lifetime value' is something some entrepreneurs don't even consider - why would someone stop using my product?)

Cons: I personally think there are too many slides in this deck. I've presented using decks that follow this structure, and the problem with providing separate 'Solution' and 'Product' sections is you end up asking questions about the product in the earlier part of the presentation, so things get repetitive - and can easily stray offtrack. If I were in a room full of Sequoia partners, I would want to get a conversation going ASAP - this deck feels like it would take up the entire time.

Suggestions: If I decided to utilize this format, I would reverse the order of slides 4 and 5 - and talk about market size first, then why it's the right time for this product. If you're up for making wholesale changes, I would suggest you just go with slides 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, 8 (incl. 10) - and keep the competitive analysis (6) and product architecture (7) for the appendix.

Learnings: Jim Goetz took some Stanford students through the whole process above - the video is only 17 minutes and well worth watching.

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