6 Quick Tips for Large Audience Entrepreneur Pitches

Yesterday I had the chance to meet with five entrepreneurs that are pitching at the excellent Venture Atlanta conference next month. These small group feedback sessions are a great way to meet entrepreneurs and offer up some of my personal experiences as I’ve pitched over 30 VCs and personally presented live to audiences as large as 7,000 (the Mercer commencement address).

Here are six quick tips:

  1. Tell a story, not hundreds of details – Stories are the most powerful. Entrepreneurs, in love with their startup, often want to share every detail. Don’t. Tell a memorable story instead.
  2. Don’t read from a script – Multiple entrepreneurs yesterday had word-for-word scripts for their six minute pitch. People don’t want to hear from a script; people want to hear a passionate presentation that evokes emotion.
  3. Show presentation slides, not handout slides – Most of the slide decks yesterday were leave-behind or handout slides with tons of words and details. Keep the slides simple. Follow the rule that the smallest font size on the slide should be no smaller than half the age of the oldest person in the room.
  4. Make an “ask” at the end – The purpose of a pitch is to get something. Whether it’s to raise money, find new customers, or recruit a key team member, always make an “ask” at the end of the pitch.
  5. One slide per minute – Don’t overwhelm the audience with too many slides as it takes away from listening to the presentation. Plan for one slide per minute and keep the visuals clean and on point.
  6. Practice, practice, practice – Everyone can tell immediately when a pitch is well rehearsed. Entrepreneurs that wing it tend to ramble on and muddy their message. Practice the pitch until it’s second nature. Also, visit Pitch Practice for help.

I love hearing entrepreneurs give their pitch and with these six tips will make it even more powerful.

What else? What are some more pitch recommendations?


Source: https://davidcummings.org/2017/09/14/6-quick-tips-for-large-audience-entrepreneur-pitches/

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High End SaaS Valuations Using the 2017 Inc. 5000 Data

Every year I love pouring over the Inc. 500 (now Inc. 5000). When I first read Inc. magazine in high school in the late 90s, I made it a personal goal to win the award. As a founder/CEO, I first succeeded with Hannon Hill (#247 on the 2007 Inc. 500) and then with Pardot (#172 on the 2012 Inc. 500). And, now, as a co-founder/chairman, succeeded with Rigor this year (#430 on the 2017 Inc. 500).

When looking through this year’s list, a number of well funded SaaS startups appeared:

  • Gainsight – $23.1M, 3,843% growth, #102
  • Bizible – $3.4M, 2,405% growth, #179
  • Domo – $79.9M, 2,250% growth, #192
  • GuideSpark – $24.8M, 525% growth, #856
  • Smartsheet – $64.3M, 425% growth, #1021

Let’s take Gainsight as it has the highest growth rate and look at some high end SaaS valuations from their funding rounds.

Gainsight Notes

  • Funding rounds listed in Crunchbase:
    • May, 2017 – $52M Series E
    • Nov, 2015 – $50M Series D
    • Oct, 2014 – $25M Series C
    • Nov, 2013 – $20M Series B
  • Recognized revenue by year:
  • Estimated end of year run rate (run rate is always ahead of recognized revenue for fast growing companies):
    • 2016 – $30M
    • 2015 – $17M
    • 2014 – $8.5M
    • 2013 – $3.5M
  • Published valuations:
    • Nov, 2015 – $348M post-money (source)
  • Estimated valuation as a multiple of run rate:
    • Nov, 2015 – $16M run rate with a $298M pre-money valuation making a valuation multiple of 18.6 times run rate
    • Nov, 2013 – $3M run rate with an estimated $80M pre-money valuation making a valuation multiple of 26.7 times run rate

SaaS valuations are typically in the range of 3-5x run rate and can go as high as 10x run rate for the fastest growing startups (see SaaS Funding Valuations Based on a Forward Multiple). When valuations are 18 and 26 times run rate, it’s a bet on building the category winner and a different game compared to 99% of the venture capitalists out there.

Want to explore more? Check out the 2017 Inc. 5000 and Crunchbase.


Source: https://davidcummings.org/2017/08/29/high-end-saas-valuations-using-the-2017-inc-5000-data/

Why working for a startup was appealing for Phil Silverstone after 11 years at GE

Appointed earlier this year as Eventbrite Australia managing director, Phil Silverstone plans to grow the business by bringing his 16 years experience working for large corporates to the role.
Source: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/why-working-for-a-startup-was-appealing-for-phil-silverstone-after-11-years-at-ge/#ftag=RSS56d97e7

3,000 Posts, and Time for Something New

Today marks blog post number 3,000! I’ve been blogging daily for over eight years and it’s time to mark the end. Early on, I did it as a challenge to myself. Can I blog daily for a week straight? A month straight? Then, it took on a life of its own.

So, what’s next? I’m still going to blog, but instead of one per day, I’m only going to blog when I have a topic or idea I really want to share. In addition to the normal short posts, I’m going to do longer, more detailed posts.

Writing is cathartic for me. I enjoy sharing a thought that I found useful or interesting. I enjoy comments and ideas, especially when I’m wrong or there’s another dimension I need to understand. It isn’t always easy, but it is always valuable.

Here’s to the first 3,000 posts, and many more.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Source: https://davidcummings.org/2017/08/11/3000-posts-and-time-for-something-new/

4 Ideas for Finding Customers

TX Zhuo has a good post up titled Teaching startups the art of the sale where he describes several customer acquisition ideas. Most startups struggle with sales — often in conjunction with not having product/market fit — making for a high likelihood of failure. From the article, here are four ideas for finding customers:

  1. Partner with the first three lighthouse accounts and charge them whatever they’re willing to pay (e.g. a big discount) so that they’ll be references and provide testimonials
  2. Spend time with investors and use their connections to find potential prospects
  3. Form a customer advisory board and use it as a way to entice potential customers (e.g. if you sign, we’ll add you to our customer advisory board)
  4. Deliver a good mix of targeted social, email, and event marketing alongside clear messaging to help your voice be heard

Sales and marketing is hard. Try these ideas and more to figure out what does, and doesn’t, work.

What else? What are some more ideas for finding customers?


Source: https://davidcummings.org/2017/08/10/4-ideas-for-finding-customers/

Attributes of a Successful CEO

Harvard Business Review has an excellent article titled What Sets Successful CEOs Apart. The authors talk about a variety of research where they distill down the four attributes that set successful CEOs apart from other CEOs. From the article, here are the attributes:

  • Deciding with speed and conviction.
  • Engaging for impact.
  • Adapting proactively.
  • Delivering reliably.

It sounds pretty simple but it’s incredible hard for a CEO to consistently do all four. Want to learn more? Head over and read What Sets Successful CEOs Apart.

What else? Have you worked for/with CEOs that had those attributes?


Source: https://davidcummings.org/2017/08/09/attributes-of-a-successful-ceo/

When Customer Expansion Outpaces Churn

One of the holy grails of successful SaaS businesses is having the expansion of existing customers outweigh customer churn. Meaning, if the business didn’t sign any new customers in a year, the upgrades from existing customers would be more money than the lost revenue from customers that leave, resulting in growth for the company. A business that doesn’t have to sell anything new, but still grows, is in an enviable position.

Here are a few benefits when customer expansion outpaces churn:

  • More Money to Acquire Customers – When customers regularly grow their account, more money can be spent to acquire the initial account, providing additional options for customer acquisition.
  • Faster Growth Rates – The law of large numbers starts to kick in making it hard to grow fast at greater scale. When customer expansion is more than churn, it makes it easier to grow faster as there’s a built-in growth engine.
  • Raising Money – Investors look for unit economics that show the fundamentals of the business are strong, and excellent customer expansion, along with customer renewals, and gross margins are three of the most important metrics making it easier to raise money.

Customer expansion outpacing customer churn is the hallmark of a successful SaaS company.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the importance of customer expansion being larger than customer churn?


Source: https://davidcummings.org/2017/08/08/when-customer-expansion-outpaces-churn/

9 Customer Support Mistakes Sending Customers to the Competition (and How to Avoid Them!)

Customer support is a battlefield; a place where only the strongest and most attuned brands survive.

One misstep can mean the difference between a loyal customer and one who tells 10+ friends never to give your business the time of the day.

While companies struggle to survive with price wars and product offerings, they often neglect to focus on the one thing that could be the biggest differentiator for their brand:

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Talkative Tuesdays – Tuesdays as the Meeting Day

Back in the Pardot days, we’d hold most of our important weekly meetings on Mondays. This included the weekly tactical, weekly all-hands, and weekly company lunch. Timing wise, it worked well to start the week by aligning the leadership team and breaking bread with the entire company.

Only, Mondays proved a challenge for several reasons. First, holidays frequently fall on Mondays, disrupting the flow of the most important meetings (should we skip those weekly meetings or move them to Tuesday?). Second, Mondays are a great day to build momentum and set a pace for the week, but if 2-3 hours are spent in meetings, it’s hard to make as much progress. Third, Monday is a popular day for employees to take vacation as part of a long weekend. Finally, and most importantly, Mondays, especially Monday mornings, people haven’t had much time to get in the groove for the week and prepare for the meetings.

Now, I’ve found that Tuesdays are the go to day for the weekly meetings and know several successful startups that run all their meetings on Tuesday. It’s still early enough in the week to get everyone aligned, yet doesn’t have the holiday and three-day weekend issues. Plus the work week is in full effect.

Call it Talkative Tuesdays — the meeting heavy day of the week.

What else? What are some more thoughts on making Tuesday the day for weekly meetings instead of Mondays?


Source: https://davidcummings.org/2017/08/07/talkative-tuesdays-tuesdays-as-the-meeting-day/