for Engineers
Mike Volker

The Executive Summary

When raising money, you generally need a business plan. But, it's not a good idea to send off a complete business plan without some introductory discussions or meetings first. In order to determine if someone might even be interested in looking at your opportunity, you need a summary, i.e. an "Executive Summary", of your plan which is brief, to the point, and will hopefully evoke sufficient interest in the recipient to warrant taking a closer look.

Think of your opening line about our company as if you were making an "elevator pitch", i.e. picture yourself on an elevator ride with a potential investor. You know that she's getting off on the top floor, so that only gives you a couple of minutes to get her attention. What will you tell her (about the business, that is)?

This summary should contain the most important points of the business plan. It should be fairly brief, typically less than two  pages. If you want to get fancy, you could make it a 4 page presentation consisting of an 11 X 17 sheet of paper, folded in two, and printed on both sides. But, in any event, it is important to capture the reader's interest in the first page.

So, What should be Included?

The following are commonly used sub-headings to cover the key points. Avoid general motherhood statements and be sure to clearly articulate key numbers. Regardless of how you organize your summary, be sure to answer the following questions (note - due to the sensitive, confidential nature of what you might say in such a a document, you might want to restrict your disclosure in certain areas and only reveal such information to others if you are assured of confidentiality). You should address these questions, and any others which you consider important, under headings such as those noted above.

Questions to address:

  1. What is the full, legal name (and jurisdiction of incorporation) of the company (if it exists) and a brief history (when incorporated, ownership and capital structure, track record, accomplishments to date if any, etc)? Don't forget to include a complete address and contact details (email address, telephone numbers, etc).
  2. What is the "Mission" of the company (i.e. what is it setting out to achieve or accomplish)?
  3. What is the market which the company is going after (who, where, size -in dollars) and what is the unique (i.e. proprietary advantage in the form of patents, trade secrets, trademarks) or new product or service which is being offered to this market? A comment on competition is useful. Also, identify and current and potential customers. Testimonials are helpful.
  4. Who are the key people behind the venture (i.e. why would someone entrust them with their money?) and what are their credentials? Include all board members and key management people.
  5. What does the company expect to achieve in sales and profit (before tax) (in $) in years 1, 2, 3 and beyond?
  6. How much capital is needed (at various stages over the first 3 years)? And what are the uses to which these funds will be applied?
  7. What has already been invested (# of years sweat equity, or seed investment amounts, i.e.#shares@$xx, and by whom)?
  8. What is being offered for the investment (e.g. equity %, board seat, etc.)
  9. What kind of return might an investor expect? over what time frame? and what is the "exit strategy"?
  10. What else is important to note? (that hasn't been covered elsewhere)

Copyright 1999 Michael C. Volker
Tel:(604)644-1926, Fax:(604)925-5006

Email: mike@risktaker.com
Last Update: 990513

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