Presenting your Financials for dumb VCs

Venture Capitalists, as we all know, are like Goldilocks.We need it to be "just right."

In this case, the big mistakes in presenting your numbers are

  • showing too many numbers
  • showing too few numbers

What we need is "just the right amount of numbers." Here is a guide to what works for me, and many of my colleagues.

Your numbers should be presented quarter-by-quarter over the first six or eight quarters after funding, and then yearly through year five.

If this is not your first round of funding then show the previous few quarters of history as well.

Please include these lines, adjusted as necessary for your business model.

  Q1 Q2 ...
Number of customers (either cumulative or new)      
Net new bookings      
Renewal bookings      
Cost of Goods/Sales      
Gross margin %      
Sales & Marketing      
Total costs      
Ending Cash      
Ending Headcount      

Do NOT feel that you have to squeeze this into a PowerPoint slide with all the PPfluff (headers and footers) that squeezes this down to an eye-chart. Feel free to have a separate Excel spreadsheet handout which does not have all the extra nonsense. (See how I really feel about PowerPoint.)

When presenting your financials to VCs, you are revealing more than just a few numbers. You are showing that you understand (or don't):

  • what it takes to scale sales efforts
  • how long you think it will take to develop your product and get it through beta testing
  • the various components of your cost model

Yes, all VCs discount your numbers, but do not use that as an excuse for unreasonable projections. Please, please, please tell me of any companies you have ever heard of that reach $100m of sales in year three of operations.

Yes, we may well want to see the gory multi-tabbed details later, but to start with this one page summary would be great. Please.