1. Discussing the product instead of the business

Entrepreneurs are naturally enthusiastic about their venture and breakthrough product. About its potential, and how it’s going to affect people’s lives. But, what interests and inspires investors are the business and its value, the combination and synergy between an idea and a robust business model.

2. The opportunity/timing

Investors know that even a game-changer product and an exceptional team cannot guarantee a venture’s success. Success is made of, and subject to pinpointing timing and identifying the opportunity. These, therefore, must be mentioned in your deck.

3. Too large or irrelevant markets

If, for instance, your product is an innovative soft drink can, there’s no point in talking about the whole beverages market. Your primary market is the beverages can market. Similarly, if you have invented a laundry-folding machine (recently, I have come across one!), your market is the same as the washing machine market, not the entire households sector.

You can mention (in fact, I recommend), that in the future it will be possible and viable to annex additional market segments, but they’re not your immediate one.

4. Too long and unfocused presentations

The deck or presentation should provide answers to ten questions. Each slide answers one question:

  1. Why – the background
  2. What – the venture
  3. Who – the team
  4. Whom – the market
  5. How much – the business model
  6. Who else – the competition
  7. What’s your need – the investment, and for what.
  8. When – timeline and milestones
  9. How – marketing,
  10. What’s in there for me – me, the investor of course.

5. Masking difficulties/problems

Investors want to know and see that entrepreneurs have undergone a business development process; that they are aware of all dimensions of their venture. You don’t have to know or have all the answers, but you do have to talk about the weaknesses and issues that have yet been fully addressed, discussed, analyzed, or understood (one way to do this is to use the SWOT analysis and elaborate on it). Don’t ignore the competition even if you think you don’t have one. If your in-depth market research is yet complete, say so, up front. The same goes for the business plan, and similarly for open questions, and unsolved problems. You want your potential and future investors to understand that your idea is not only bright, but also that you know what you’re talking about, that you’re very serious about your business, and that you know it inside out.