Some examples of investor slide decks, that seemed to do the trick….

May 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

I always find that the best way to put together a piece of marketing / promotional material is to look around for great examples.

I work with a large number of companies that go on to raise investment. For my own personal interest, I have had a dig around to try and find investor slide decks prepared by some of the more successful/well known start ups.

Clearly there is more to raising investment than the quality of the slides, but it can be useful to see what seemed to do the trick…

Facebook – more of an early marketing tool, but still interesting

AirBnB – early on in their life

Foursquare – original investor slide deck from 2009

Dwolla – one of the more recent ones

Square – the mobile payment start up – online personal finance company

The following link is a collection of start up pitches which includes a few well known examples of pitches.

Please feel free to add any others in the comments.



How to run effective board meetings

January 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

I came across the following blog post from Mark Macleod which has some useful thoughts on how to  get the most out of board meetings. It is written with funded start ups in mind, but the points are valid for other companies.

His post also includes a link to Mark Suster’s top 10 tips – some useful suggestions, including getting the key 1-2 strategic items at the front of the agenda to avoid losing them behind other administrative concerns, and aiming to get the board pack out 3-4 days in advance.

Room for one more…

September 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Not so long ago the iPhone was the only smart phone worth condsidering. Apple stole a march on their rivals with a revolutionary product and gained a seemingly unassailable market share.

But over time the competition has improved and Samsung appear to have now firmly established themselves as a credible alternative. It is a time consuming and expensive process. (HTC blamed their inability to compete at Samsung’s level on their limited marketing budget.)

Samsung’s progress reminds you that in markets dominated by a single player, there is always room for one more.

In web based software businesses it is interesting to look at the dynamics of market share and the levels of investment – as VCs try to catapult their investee company up to one of the top 2 or maintain their dominant position.

Recent examples include money going to fund online food ordering. JustEat  recentlty raisd a further $60m (total funding now $125m) and its rival Delivery Hero rasied a fruther $50m (total funding now $100m).

Similar patterns continue in areas such as taxi ordering (Uber/Hailo),  fashion (Fab/Matches) and handmade goods (Etsy/Notonthehighstreet).

Ivan Lendl – a model non-exec?

September 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

The impact of Ivan Lendl on Andrew Murray’s tennis career has been hugely significant in the last year culminating in Murray winning both the Olympics and the US Open.

 At the risk of betraying a lack of understanding of tennis, and mixing my sporting metaphors, a few characteristics of the working relationship between the two of them provide some useful pointers for when ambitious companies are looking at appointing a non-exec.

Real life, relevant experience – Lendl had been there and done it before. Experiencing the failures and also achieving success.

Shared long term goals – Lendl could see the potential and was willing to work for an extended time to see the results.

Focussed objectives – Lendl identified specific areas that Murray was to work on, that could make a real difference.

Professional relationship – there is mutual respect from both sides. They enjoy each other’s company, but also give each other space.

Brings and develops confidence – Murray notes that just having Lendl around was a calming influence, taking the pressure off him.

You could no doubt take this further, and there are certainly other examples of lessons to take from sport into business. The recent success of Team GB cycling and Dave Brailsford being one.


Cash saving ideas (Part 2)

July 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

I asked this question to a range of entrepreneurial Scottish businesses – these are some of the answers. Thanks to all the contributors.

Becky Woodhouse, PURE Spa

  • Join a business organization that has good benefits – we are members of the FSB who provide advice and insurance against employment issues and also have good money saving benefits with other business providers, so the cost of the membership is more than offset by the savings made through the services offered.
  •  Review your costs regularly – shop around every year for utilities, merchant services, insurance, etc – put it in your diary when they are up for renewal so you don’t forget!


Ben Panter, Blackford Analysis

  • Try and find ways of visiting lots of customers in the same venue – like a tradefair.


Carol-Ann Searles, Carlyle Associates

  • Constantly review supplier agreements and re-negotiate
  •  Family and friends have a wide range of skills that you can utilize!


Dr Tim Willis, CEO & Founder, Flexpansion

  • Certainly don’t get an office until absolutely necessary – work from home or a library or coffee shop if possible, or see if any other startups will let you informally use a desk from time to time in return for cash, lunch etc. – you can hire rooms for meetings if necessary, meet people at their office, or in hotel foyers or cafés.  You can also get pay-as-you-go office space offered by places like The Melting Pot in central Edinburgh (though I think they have a minimum).
  • Take advantage of any trade shows, demos etc that your University (if applicable) offers you, where you can meet prospective investors, partners and customers and quite possibly get your poster done for free.


Colin Gilchrist, Digital Face

  • Not everyone in a business is driven by money, assess what benefits some employees may prefer
  • Everything is negotiable – yes even your Broadband and Gas supplier, so consider a competitive analysis and challenge your existing supplier 

The story of a taxi drivers search for meaning

June 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

…. (or how to get the management information your business needs)

A taxi driver from New Zealand was recently featured as part of a review of the future of the internet by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle, two of the world’s recognised leaders in the sector. What caught their eye, was not his erudite views on politics or fellow drivers, but his understanding and use of readily available technology to make a real impact on his business.

For a six week period, the taxi driver kept a log of all fares (GPS, weather, passenger and three other variables). He put the data into his computer and did some analysis to work out where he should be at any given point in the day to maximise his take. The outcome? He is making a very nice living with much less work than other taxi drivers.

The ability to draw on multiple sources of information, and combine them to give greater meaning and understanding is one of the key themes for the future of the internet. It is also of significant relevance to business today.

Does your business have the relevant management information (MI) it requires to make key strategic decisions? Are you getting real meaning from your MI?

4 steps to take

1 Understand the information that you need to run the business.

2 Plan how to get this information

3 Combine the information to give meaning

4 Present the key findings

The temptation in a process like this is to deliver a volume of detailed information, at which point the meaning is then lost.

The output should be a review of the key indicators (as noted earlier – around five) with commentary to interpret that information. Making reference to budgets or trends will help reinforce the analysis.

Cash saving ideas (Part 1)

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

I asked this question to a range of entrepreneurial Scottish businesses – these are some of the answers. Thanks to all the contributors.

Brian Hughes Halferty –

  • Try to negotiate fixed monthly prices for legal and accounting fees, they can easily catch you by surprise and always get a second quote at the very least
  • If you’re at the seed stage and people like your idea, try to negotiate a sweat equity deal over the long-term


Hugh Ilyine, DestiNA Genomics

  • Finding and working with really effective service suppliers       
  • Support from Scottish Enterprise through their Business Support service for High Growth Start-Ups


 Donald Cameron – EQSN

  • Good sales qualification.
  •  Webex to demonstrate and prequalify opportunities


Alexander Cole – Peekabu Studios

  • Judicious use of the right software can save you a bundle, especially on starting finances. Get some advice, definitely, but you’ll be surprised how much of your financial projections you already know.
  •  Never work for free – doing speculative work can be a huge drain on time and cost you big time in lost work if it goes sour. If it’s worth it to a client or investor to see some real work on the table, then it’s worth being paid for.


Billy Stenhouse – Baguette Express

  • Make suppliers phone you.
  •  Check you are getting the best rates from your bank and never accept they give you the best terms, be prepared to change.


Richard Burton –