Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

Reflections on Reviewing 30 Plans on 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, the co-founder of Borland International, and the official business planning coach at 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.

prev next

You might also be interested in

What Belongs in a Startup’s Pitch Deck?

So you’ve developed a game-changing product, formed a business with a killer team, quit your job, and are rolling the product out to market. Your business is the next unicorn, and all is good in the world. Fantastic. Now only one thing is inhibiting your company’s growth: you have no money.

For many founders of high-growth startups, bootstrapping has limits.

Read more >

From Accelerators to Venture Capital: What is best for your startup?

With startup growth up 61% since 2014 and more investment programs emerging, it can be overwhelming for founders to know just where to jump in. As the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, MassChallenge has helped 835 startup companies around the world, who have raised over $1.1 billion in funding and created over 6,500 jobs. We have seen startups at

Read more >

Ask A Founder: Startup Lessons Learned from Work Truck Solutions’ Kathryn Schifferle

Kathryn Schifferle, Founder and CEO of Work Truck Solutions, turned being a woman in work trucks into an oversubscribed $2.1 million round.

We sat down with Kathryn as she shared what her fundraising journey was like, the startup lessons she learned, and her advice to fellow founders, especially women. Here is what she had to say:

HK: Tell

Read more >

Valuation Part I: Peeling the Onion, or How Top Investors Value the Startups They Invest In

Update 2017: To help you understand how your startup will look to investors according to this methodology, we’ve created a fundraising feedback tool that will give you investor-level insight into your startup’s performance. In just about 15 minutes, it will tell you how much money your startup is likely to raise, where you can find that capital, and what to

Read more >

Trying to Raise Money? Thinking About Gust for Startup Fundraising?

How to Make Your Gust Account Stand Out to Investors

Before you read any further, I want you to know that I’ve personally used Gust to raise money for my first tech startup. I know a lot of other entrepreneurs who use or have used Gust to seek funds, but their profiles don’t always get attention from investors. Below are

Read more >


4 thoughts on “Reflections on Reviewing 30 Plans on 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.


  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.