Dear Doctor, Do VC’s even read business plans?
Julian Carter says...
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I can only relate to my own experience.
When making a pitch to a VC you have to focus on capturing their attention as soon as possible, the detail can follow later.
Like most VC’s I receive a lot of cold emails and pitches, it’s not the ideal way to connect, but I look at them all regardless.
As you can imagine I do not have the time to read a comprehensive business plan of up to 30 pages, which takes a lot of effort to digest to comprehend the business model. Last year EC1 Capital had 973 applications through the web site alone.
I want to know what you do as fast as possible so I won’t be reading your business plan.
I’m a fan of the business model canvas as it shows me in an instant an x-ray view of how all the different parts of your business model work together to form a comprehensive and cohesive proposition.
You can also submit short video presentations (rare) or a ten slide powerpoint deck/pdf to get your message across.
Business plans do have a role to play. Personally I only go through them as part of due diligence in an investment. Once that’s done they are usually filed and never looked at again, within three months of a startups life they can irrelevant.
What is more important is setting sensible, agreed twelve month milestones so we can measure how well the portfolio company is doing against forecast and measure how effective the CEO is in execution.
Business plans are really works of fiction, they talk about the future but no-one knows what it holds, they are more a snapshot in time.
For early stage startups that will commonly pivot to achieve product/market fit the relevance of a business plan can fade rather quickly.
To clarify, a pivot does not always mean that you chase a completely different direction, it usually means that one element of the business model canvas changes.
For the founder, I think the discipline and process of writing a business plan is good practice for analyzing your startup for any weaknesses and consolidating the value proposition in your mind.