How Entrepreneurs Create a One-Page Executive Summary for Finding Angel Investors, TaskRabbit One-Pager, $38 Million Funding Success Story
Find Angel Funding & Venture Capital for Business Startups, Entrepreneurs, & First Time Founders – Episode 6
This is one of my favorite hacks/shortcuts for raising money. It will save you a ton of time and get more attention from potential investors.
When you start a business and raise money, you obviously need to have a plan. But how long should that plan be?
According to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), "Most business experts and counselors say it (Business Plans) should be 30 to 50 pages, as a minimum, while others may say even less or more than this depending on their own personal perspective."
Do you know how many pages are in the business plans I use for raising money? Would you believe only one?
There is a great tool called a one-page executive summary, or one-pager, which is a perfect way to communicate your idea to potential investors. A 1-page executive summary summarizes your thoughts, thesis, traction, and your predictions for the future of your business. Your 1-pager needs to give investors the gist of why they should invest.
The 1-Page Executive Summary has replaced the business plan in our 140-character-or-less world. It hits all of the major areas of a business. It demonstrates a business' potential, while leaving enough flexibility for possible changes and pivots. Although there are many versions of a 1-pager, this is one of my favorite one-pager formats.
1. The Grab: You should lead with the most compelling statement of why you have a really big idea. This sentence (or two) sets the tone for the rest of the executive summary. Usually, this is a concise statement of the unique solution you have developed to a big problem. It should be direct and specific, not abstract and conceptual. If you can drop some impressive names in the first paragraph you should—world-class advisors, companies you are already working with, a brand name founding investor. Don’t expect an investor to discover that you have two Nobel laureates on your advisory board six paragraphs later. He or she may never get that far.
2. The Problem: You need to make it clear that there is a big, important problem (current or emerging) that you are going to solve. In this context you are establishing your Value Proposition—there is enormous pain out there, and you are going to increase revenues, reduce costs, increase speed, expand reach, eliminate inefficiency, increase effectiveness, whatever. Don’t confuse your statement of the problem with the size of the opportunity (see below).
3. The Solution: What specifically are you offering to whom? Software, hardware, service, a combination? Use commonly used terms to state concretely what you have, or what you do, that solves the problem you’ve identified. Avoid acronyms and don’t try to use this opportunity to create and trademark a bunch of terms that won’t mean anything to most people. You might need to clarify where you fit in the value chain or distribution channels—who do you work with in the ecosystem of your sector, and why will they be eager to work with you. If you have customers and revenues, make it clear. If not, tell the investor when you will.
4. The Opportunity: Spend a few more sentences providing the basic market segmentation, size, growth and dynamics—how many people or companies, how many dollars, how fast the growth, and what is driving the segment. You will be better off targeting a meaningful percentage of a well-defined, growing market than claiming a microscopic percentage of a huge, mature market. Don’t claim you are addressing the $24 billion widget market, when you are really addressing the $85 million market for specialized arc-widgets used in the emerging wocket sector.
5. Your Competitive Advantage: No matter what you might think, you have competition. At a minimum, you compete with the current way of doing business. Most likely, there is a near competitor, or a direct competitor that is about to emerge (are you sufficiently paranoid yet??). So, understand what your real, sustainable competitive advantage is, and state it clearly. Do not try to convince investors that your only competitive asset is your “first mover advantage.” Here is where you can articulate your unique benefits and advantages. Believe it or not, in most cases, you should be able to make this point in one or two sentences.
6. The Model: How specifically are you going to generate revenues, and from whom? Why is your model leverageable and scaleable? Why will it be capital efficient? What are the critical metrics on which you will be evaluated—customers, licenses, units, revenues, margin? Whatever it is, what impressive levels will you reach within three to five years?
7. The Team: Why is your team uniquely qualified to win? Don’t tell us you have 48 combined years of expertise in widget development; tell us your CTO was the lead widget developer for Intel, and she was on the original IEEE standards committee for arc-widgets. Don’t just regurgitate a shortened form of each founder’s resume; explain why the background of each team member fits. If you can, state the names of brand name companies your team has worked for. Don’t drop a name if it’s an unknown name, and don’t drop a name if you aren’t happy to give the contact as a reference at a later date.
8. The Promise ($$): When you are pitching to investors, your fundamental promise is that you are going to make them a boatload of money. The only way you can do that is if you can achieve a level of success that far exceeds the capital. What is your path to profitability and positive cash-flow? When will you get there? When will your investors start enjoying a financial return on their investment?
Remember, a 1-Page Executive Summaries need to be one page!
TaskRabbit, founded in 2008 by Leah Busque, is a two-sided marketplace that helps connect TaskPosters and TaskRabbits. Task Posters, people who require help with their regular tasks. TaskRabbits, people who have skills and time needed to help others in their regular tasks in return for some money. Tasks include planting, cleaning, pet care, plumbing, and more.
TaskRabbit raised around $38 million funding as of July 2015. Then the IKEA Group acquired it in 2017. As of 2020, there were more than 140,000 Taskers on the network. On average, Taskers in the U.S. earned $35/hour. Below is an example of a Task Rabbit one-pager.
Below are some of the advantages of the one-page executive summary over the traditional, 30-50 page business plans when raising money.
-Increased likelihood of being read by potential investors, 1 versus 30+ pages
-Easier to pivot/modify when you learn new information
I am not suggesting this is the only support for your business. You obviously need to do the work to support your one-pager. However, this still saves you from wasting a ton of time creating a formal 30-50 page document.
Your one-page executive summary is important for every angel funding campaign. It helps you clarify your thoughts and communicate your vision. If you cannot summarize your concept in a 1-pager, you probably need to work on your business more before pitching investors.
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