First reads for 2016

It has been busy two months of the new year so my compilation of reads comes relatively late. Hope you will discover something  interesting for you too:

Enjoy the reads!

Interesting reads from the past week

While browsing social media I could see a chunk of my friends consume very similar content. That is why I am now aggregating all the good reads from past week and hopefully you will discover something  interesting for you too.

Looking forward to some more suggestions to add. Just drop me a line in the comments.

If you enjoy these short reads please subscribe for my blog updates.

See you soon!


What not to do in your pitch deck

I get about 1-2 pitch decks a day and it is a matter of great discipline to walk over all the slides and keep your attention span. So before I move on – please keep in mind that investors do not spend hours re-reading your deck. It is more like a one time fast-paced read to understand what you want to do, if it is going to fly, does it fulfill their investment hypothesis and if someone will buy this for $$$. And may be a re-check of a certain slide plus validating some numbers.

Now let’s define what is a pitch deck. You have an idea and have done research. You have a team of friends and/or colleagues who you trust and believe will lead this to success. I hope you also did market validation before quitting your job. Then you put this in 10 slides and include your business model, financial projections, roadmap, competitor landscape. The latter will be repeatedly revised afterwards and highly likely will steer your product in a new direction. So – this is the uncertainty part and investors know it.

Bottom line: make it clear what you want to do and why it should matter for a particular investor.

Now here comes the promised short list of things you should not do in your pitch deck:

  • DO NOT clutter your slides with tons of text and information. Sorry, I just get overwhelmed with different fonts and pics and all the things YOU consider important. You will spot if your slides are too informative if people start asking questions to which you have stated the answers earlier.
  • DO NOT identify huge market and reserve a cut of it while not establishing a link to why this market might belong to you one day.
  • DO NOT miss out what you will do with investors money and how much you need.
  • DO NOT forget your roadmap. This will usually make it clear for an investor if you are realistic about what you do.
  • DO NOT render your competitors impotent. Respect them.
  • DO NOT throw in the face of your investor answers like “You have not read this and that in my deck” when asked about things you apparently have mentioned somewhere. First, it is not polite, second, we do sometimes validate what you say, sometimes we just did not see. We are humans after all.

Looking forward to some more suggestions to add. Just drop me a line in the comments.

If you enjoy these short reads please subscribe for my blog updates.

See you soon!

First Techstars Demo Day in Berlin

The first Techstars demo day in Berlin was something! I know it is Sunday, I will be quick I promise. 🙂

Techstars Demo Day 2015

Hosted in Hebbel-Theater in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district Jens Lapinski and his team presented their first batch of startups. The gorgeous Art Nouveau styled building was built in 1907/1908 and was the early and unique work of the famous architect Oskar Kaufmann. It was the breakthrough that shot him to fame. Let’s wish the same to the first Techstars batch!

The startups pitched in 2 batches of 5 and the presentations all looked super well done – for me this means crisp, elaborated and well timed. Founders walked to the stage accompanied by the thundering tunes of charging music pieces and presented with a sleek looking deck of slides outlining market opportunities, user growth, expansion plans. The best part though is that at least 2 of the companies have secured funding during the programme – 1x Seed and 1x Series A. You could feel that some founders are still fundraising and pretty nervous. Yet, I am confident that more news is coming soon.  I have seen the products of these companies 3 months ago and am amazed by the progress they have achieved.

Jens has closed the demo session with some kind words to all involved but I would like to share one of his slides summarising the Techstars values.

Techstars principles


Powerful message – nothing to add!

That was not all though. The event moved on in the Factory Berlin and continued with networking first and last but not least – an afterparty .

It was a well spent day 🙂

Good luck to all teams, and keep sending me updates. Looking forward to hear from you!

If you enjoy these short reads please subscribe for my blog updates.

Have a great rest of the weekend.

Mentoring at Lisbon Challenge (Reloaded)

This is an article long overdue. I am happy I finally found the time to write it down.

As every year I joined Lisbon Challenge for their new batch of companies. The list was impressive with teams coming from all around the world including “the usual suspects” Brazil, Portugal and … Bulgaria (recalling Eventyard in 2013).

The selection increases in quality every year and for me this participation is no work but pure pleasure. The organizing team has not changed much and they do an incredible job. Kudos to @Pedro, @Ricardo, Bashara, Sofia and all the other great people there that make a difference – I am your fan since 2013!

Not surprisingly I took part in the last two stages of the programme – Product and Scalability. The companies made an even more mature impression than last year – founders openly discussed their idea, business model and growth plans. The businesses mostly had first clients and a clear idea what works and what does not in their field. Problems were being discussed openly and options seemed to have been weighted well before talking them over. Even my brainstorming skills did not have to come in use (which is a good sign!). In sum, could feel the pleasant breeze of my favorite no-nonsense culture.

The businesses I met included the extreme sports community Leap,  pet caretaker marketplace BauBNB and the smart pic web monetization service ClinkPic. It would be unfair to pinpoint what we discussed with each startup but the long list included performance benchmarking, industry metrics, customer acquisition, retention strategy, internationalization, perceived loyalty, behavioral patterns, product virality.

Wishing luck to all! Godspeed.