Writing a Compelling Executive Summary
How to convince investors your market-changing business idea is something credible and compelling
The objective of your executive summary is to sell, not to describe, the value of the technology. If you can’t engage the reader in 30 seconds, you have lost your best, and possibly only, opportunity. If you pique the reader’s interest here, he or she will ask for more details.
- GRAB the audience
You need a leading “WOW” statement said in a sentence or two. Write a concise statement of the solution you have created to solve a need in a market.
State clearly the important current or emerging problem in the market and the failure of others to adequately solve that problem.
State your VALUE PROPOSITION. What are you offering, and who is the audience? In layman’s terms, identify the product that solves the problem you identified. Answer these questions: Does your solution reduce costs? Is it less expensive than competing products and/or more effective? Can it replace the gold standard for good reason? State positives and skip negatives.
Give a few sentences on the specific market size and potential growth rate. Don’t exaggerate your potential share of that market. Don’t bite the whole apple in one try.
Know that everyone has competition in some area, so define your sustainable competitive advantages and state them clearly. Briefly identify your barriers to entry. One or two sentences are sufficient here.
- Your TEAM
Give the name and the pertinent experience of the members; not a resume here. Why is this team the right/best team? Here is where you can drop a couple of impressive names of either high-powered advisors or partners. Make sure they are real. Don’t use the names of persons not willing to speak for your endeavor.
- Business MODEL
How are you going to generate revenues, and from what source? Is your model scalable and capital efficient? Give a brief description here of revenues, units produced, margins and customer growth. Give a brief outlook of three to five years. You can attach your financial statements or have them ready to present.
- The ASK
What is the amount of funding you are seeking? What milestone(s) will that amount let you achieve, and over what period of time? Combine frugal spending with realistic needs to meet what you promise. If you plan to secure additional financing later, make that clear here and state the proposed amount of any possible round(s).
Besides promising a return on the investment, your summary financial projections should clearly show how the revenues are going to exceed the capital invested plus all expenses. Give some key plays such as number of customers and, if applicable, the number of units bought per year.
You should be able to convey your executive summary in six to eight paragraphs. Each point should be made in two to three simple, clear and specific sentences. This usually requires about two pages to cover sufficiently
- Have someone not familiar with your business read the executive summary, and then ask them to tell you what they understand from their review.
- Include your complete contact information; don’t make the other party search for it.
- Drop names ONLY if they are real and pertinent to your cause.
- Use simple language structure and PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD!
About the Author
Julie Rader is director of business development and analysis at Connecticut Innovations. You can contact her at Julie.Rader@ctinnovations.com.