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Obtaining Venture Capital

Crafting Business Cases and Pitch Books

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Business Cases Overview: Business cases are documents that explain, either for internal or external audiences, the rationale for and financial projections associated with:

  • New products
  • New business ventures
  • New companies
  • Changes in product pricing or marketing
  • Major capital expenditures on business infrastructure

The above list is not exhaustive, but covers the principal rationales for developing business cases.

Pitch Books Overview: Pitch books typically are condensed, illustrated versions of business cases that accompany presentations. They often consist of hardcopies of the slides shown at such presentations. As the name pitch book suggest, such a document is designed to persuade either internal approval or external funding of a business venture, such as those outlined above.

The Role of Finance Staff: The crafting of business cases and pitch books depend heavily on input from financial people. In many cases, the finance staff produces these materials, especially in thinly-staffed small companies. Accordingly, knowing accepted practices in this realm is important for financial professionals.

Pitch Book Fundamentals: Among the chief recommendations made by Canaan Partners of Menlo Park, California are:

  • Plan for a one-hour presentation, including questions.
  • Aim for being concise. A presentation of 20 slides or less is ideal.
  • Bring hard copies of the presentation.
  • Arrive early, to have time to set up.
  • Be sure you know the dress code preferred by the venture capitalists. Business casual or suits?
  • Avoid arcane jargon. Cast the pitch in plain English that any reasonable person should be able to follow.
  • Focus on how the business solution in question will make money, rather than on how precisely a technology will work.
  • Don't talk valuation of the venture in an initial presentation.
  • Steer clear of dramatics, silly costumes or other attention-grabbing stunts that can backfire.
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