How to showcase the “problem you are trying to solve” in your overview deck #startups

This is a series of posts with a focus on your overview deck to investors, presenting your market opportunity, the team and traction your startup has had so far.

Customers, investors and partners want different levels of depth from your problem statement.

Investors want to understand the fundamental underlying trends of the market in the context of the problem you are trying to solve.

Customers want to understand the “day in the life” pain points that you help address.

Partners want to understand the contours of the problem in terms of the challenges that customers face.

You have to articulate the problem extremely well to get a buy in from all of the above audiences. Doing that solves more than 1/2 the challenges you have with getting buy in. The reason is because all of them believe that the person who articulates the problem best is the one who has likely the best solution.

Since you know the problem so well, you have thought about the solution as much is the assumption they make.

The best way to showcase the problem slide is to outline the trend that you are seeing in the industry first.

For e.g. Cloud computing is rapidly taking over enterprise deployments of new applications. Or, there is a dramatic rise in number of developers also performing the role of operations and this trend will continue until 2020. Or, there is a new role in companies which are progressively seeking to differentiate with great customer insight and the person in charge of it is called the Customer Experience Officer.

Now, it is important that you dont show that in the slide, but also provide your view of the impact that the trend has on your problem.

The reason this is important is that most every investor, and many early adopter customers will have access to these trends and will likely know about these trends already. For many of your late adopters, this might be news, but investors tend to be on top of trends for most parts, with some exceptions, especially if the are not deep in a specific category or industry.

So rather than say the generic statement, cloud is changing everything I’d offer a view on the way it is changing that affects the portion of the problem you are solving.

For e.g. Cloud deployments are increasing by 150% every year and that rise has caused a 220% increase in number of new Developer Operations roles, and these roles dont have the tools to be successful since the developer tools are available only to debug code issues, and the operations tools are focused on monitoring production instead of trouble shooting.

There are 3 tips I have learned to use when you share the overall trend part of your problem.

a) The trend needs to be something most people can relate to easily

b) the trend is best explained by using percentage numbers to showcase the growth (trend is your friend) and

c) the trend needs to have a disruptive nature to it, if you are playing in market with large incumbents.

The pain point part (2nd slide likely) is best explained when you have a day in the life of the person who is the user. What do they go through on a daily basis which causes them angst. What do they have to go though, which prevents them from being successful or causes them to waste time, or causes them to be inefficient in their job, or costs them more money than doing it with your proposed solution.

Any or all of these day in the life scenarios is usually explained best when you showcase what your user has to endure and how with your solution these go away. So in some ways, your user pain point should directly correlate to the solution you are trying offer that will solve these problems.

For example, the PR associate at a mid to small agency spends 3-5 hours going over google news and putting news articles into word, curating the influencers into an Excel spreadsheet and finally putting a report together that will share the key media coverage in a PowerPoint slide. This associate spends 3-4 hours every week doing this and we can do these things for them in less than 15 min.

There are 3 important tips I have see that work best to showcase your user pain:

1. The persona of your user and the “day in their life” has to focus on the top 3 pain points they have, daily. If your pain points are not the things that are high on their priority list, they will likely dismiss your solution as “nice to have”.

2. The best pain points expressed are in 3 specific things, not more. If you have one, then you will find your presentations to customers to be hit or miss, so you are better off, having 3 so the total surface area of the customer’s pain points are well covered.

3. The more “real” your pain point and the more they go through it daily, the better are your chances of getting customers to buy into the fact that you can empathize with them. The best way to test this is to ask questions of them to seek engagement. For e.g. “Raise your hand if you find yourself struggling to quickly understand which emails are important and which ones are not, after a quick 15 second glance on your email client”.

Let me know if these tips work.

6 thoughts on “How to showcase the “problem you are trying to solve” in your overview deck #startups”

  1. you have laid out your thoughts very lucidly Mukund. Getting a buy in from Investors, Customers & Partners kind of covers the entire life cycle of a startup.

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