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Reflections on Reviewing 30 Plans on Gust.com in a Day

I was never one of those people who rushed to get everything done early. I’m as likely as you are to put things off. So this morning I’m looking at 30 plans on Gust to be discussed this evening when we meet as the Willamette Angel Conference to take the first steps towards an investment decision in May. I started after dinner last night and I will have reviewed all 30 before I leave for the meeting in the late afternoon.

What does this mean if you’re one of the plans submitted? Here’s what I think this process means to the entrepreneur:

  1. My process and my procrastination is not unusual. A lot of investors are going to work like we do, using quick views not to select plans but to rule some out.
  2. I consider the information posted on Gust sufficient to rule out a plan. Implicitly that means it’s also enough to take an initial 30 plans down to 10, 12, or 15 we want to look at in more detail.
  3. I’m immediately grateful to the startups that help me with this by using the Gust feature of posting a short video to help me get acquainted. When it’s done well, it makes a good first impression. But a bad video doesn’t help, and I’m looking for the best investment, not the best video.
  4. The writing in (executive) summaries, descriptions and the overall business plan should not get in the way of the information.  I’m not critical of style unless it interferes. I want formatting to make it easy to read and find the information I want.
  5. I always want there to be a business plan available even if I’m not going to necessarily read it yet.
    • I’m definitely not going to start at the beginning of the plan and read to the end. But I want to have the plan available because I want to go from the general statements to specifics, so I’m likely to look for specific things in a plan.
    • What I look for depends on the plan itself, but to give you examples, I want to make sure a business-to-business startup understands the sales cycle and what receivables do to cash flow. And with a lot of plans I want to see the percentages in expenses. And with most I want to see founders’ salaries.
    • I’ll go into a plan quickly and I want to find what I’m looking for quickly and leave. Think of it like guerrilla plan reading. I’m going to be rating a startup lower if the information I want isn’t there or if I can’t find it.
  6. I say “yet” in point 5 above because although I’m comfortable eliminating a startup without reading its business plan, I will never invest in a startup without reading its plan. In our group we divide due diligence into teams and the team looking at a company will always read its plan well. Usually more than once.

 

I hope that my sharing here helps you if you’re on the other side of the table from me. If it makes you feel better, I started on your side of the table too.

 

Written by Tim Berry

user Tim Berry

Tim is the founder of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, the co-founder of Borland International, and the official business planning coach at Entrepreneur.com. He has been called the "Obi-wan Kenobe of business planning" and "The Father of Business Planning." He is a serial author of books and software on business planning.

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Comments

4 thoughts on “Reflections on Reviewing 30 Plans on Gust.com in a Day”

  1. David S. Rose says:

    Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more, and that’s exactly the way (and [cough] the when) that I review plans. Like Tim, I’m a big fan of videos, and will always look at the video (if there is one) first. But please keep it short (no more than two to three minutes.) This should just be your elevator pitch, you will have the opportunity to include your full presentation later on in the pitch section.

    -David

  2. Lee Strong says:

    Thank you, Tim, your article has assisted me in creating a good plan.

  3. Lee Strong says:

    Thank you, Tim, your article has assisted me in creating a good plan.