Friday, November 21, 2014

Benefits of Losing Seattle Angel Conference

I’m Dallas Jasper, CEO of Connect2Classes.  
"The whole process is a learning experience; it is well organized and attended by people truly interested in supporting start-ups."
We participated in SAC VI which ended on November 12 and I highly recommend other entrepreneurs to consider applying.

How SAC works

First of all, if you don’t know the process here it is:
·       40+ companies apply
·       An initial review is made and (approx) 25 companies are asked to do a 3 minute presentation
·       The investors meet and invite 12 companies to do a 10 minute presentation
·       Again the investors meet and 6 companies are assigned a Deal Lead and invited to enter Due Diligence, and then to present at the final conference.

How to Prep: 3min vs 10min

We did not win, but we did make it to the final 6.  Here are some of my thoughts:

Clearly being asked to do a 3 minute presentation is tough – how can you properly represent your company in 3 minutes?  You have to think of this stage as exactly what it is – a gate to the next stage.  Your goal is to get through the gate and move on.  The best way to do that is to be yourself and show the best of what you do, what you plan to do, how your company will succeed and investors benefit.  Three minutes goes really fast – make sure your most important points are first – if you run out of time you will be asked to stop.  Don’t try to memorize something, it will come off as stiff and unnatural and the first real hurdle is for the judges to trust you!
In contrast, when you are prepping for the 10 minute presentation, you may feel that you have the luxury to be more wordy; be careful that 10 minutes still goes very fast!  At this point you will be expected to tell a story that starts with a large problem and ends with a large number of people paying you to solve that problem.  You will need to be very clear on the numbers: how big is the market, how much will people pay you to solve their problem, what will it cost you to reach these customers, and how do those numbers grow over time?

Q&A Session More Important than You Think

The Q&A portion of the ten minute presentation is very important.  You need to be able to answer the questions quickly and succinctly.  Some of the questions can be tough as the audience is knowledgeable in many markets.

Major Benefit of Just Going Through Due Diligence-  

If you are fortunate to get to the final six, you will be assigned a due diligence team and a Deal Lead.   For us, this is the point at which we started to really benefit from the process.   I can’t say enough good things about our deal team.  We met with them in person twice and spoke and emailed constantly for 3 weeks. They dug into every area of our business and encouraged us to move forward on things we had been thinking about.  

Driven to Traction and Revenue in 3 Weeks! 

If you have done any investigation into SAC, you will know that traction is very important.  We went into the first presentation without paying customers, just free trials.  During the due diligence, the team encouraged us to convert our free trials into paying customers, and by the end of the 3 weeks we had converted about one third of them.  We discovered that our free trials were getting a lot of value from our site.  By the final presentation we were able to show that we had paying customers and that those customers represented sales that proved out our business model.

Engaging Other Investors

The Final Presentation is open to the public and offers lots of opportunity to engage with other companies, investors and people who are interested in what you are doing.  It was great to hear quick updates from the previous SAC winners and to see how far they had come since their investment.  If you get to this point remember, that your presentation needs to show the SAC Investors what you have done since your last presentation, but also tell the whole story to other potential investors in the room.  You never know who might be interested.

Totally Worth It! 

While we did not win, we did benefit from the experience, met some great people and moved our product forward.   We truly appreciated the time and effort of the SAC team, as well as our due diligence team. 

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