Investor/advisor updates are an often under-utilized tool. Though there are many good reasons to do it, the real value is engaging your investors to help you solve problems.
High Level (TL;DR)
- have a concrete ask in each update
- keep it short, results focused, and on what matters to your audience, not to you
- send the update regularly (at least quarterly, monthly is even better)
- humanize the update with names and photos
- deep dive in to metrics unless they teach something counter-intuitive (focus on synthesizing info, giving context)
- hide bad news (own it, ask for help, or outline your plan to address the issue)
- describe the activity/work (focus on results and impact)
- spend more than 30 min a month (it should fast to synthesize this information if you are running your business efficiently)
This is an amalgamation of the best updates I receive regularly. Shout out to the companies who most influenced this template: Color, Boom, and NoRedInk.
This update is for a hypothetical company, Banana Stand, that builds a mobile shopping app. If you delete all of my comments below, the update is short.
Your startup should track this information internally already so you should be able to update your template quickly. You can also share this internally as a simple way to keep everyone in the company up to speed as well.
Confidential – Banana Stand Investor Update – October 2016
Confidentiality – Please treat this and all company updates as strictly confidential. Do not share/forward any information. Do *not* forward to friends, colleagues or anyone else.
1. How you can help
//make your asks clear
- We need an intro to someone who works on Apple’s App Store by Nov 1.
- Please refer great sales people for:
- Email us if you can talk this week about best practices for eng hiring. We are going to revamp our eng interview process to hire more design/product oriented engineers.
2. Summary (TL;DR)
// 3 sentence summary with your ~3 topline metrics that matter
Monthly active users are slightly ahead of projections, revenue is behind projection because we pulled back ad spend, and we are on track with app launches. We are behind on hiring salespeople and could use your help. We expect revenue to return to projections once we resume ad spend to projections in Nov and Dec.
- Shopper MAU: 5M (+25% m/m, +178% y/y)
- Shopper Retention: 33% month over month
- Seller MAU: 45k (+15% m/m, +300% y/y)
- Revenue (monthly): $860k (+18% m/m, +150% y/y)
//high level goals, and how many you’re hitting
//this is a good way to track things internally too
// likely as the founder you want to have a list of key things to get done each month and hold yourself accountable
// just open up that list to your investors and ask for help hitting those goals
Goals for October: Hit 3/5
1. Grow to 4.9M MAU [hit]
2. Grow to $980k revenue [miss – details in financials]
3. Launch iOS v.2.3 [hit]
4. Hire three salespeople [miss – hired only 1]
5. Finish product roadmap and planning for Q1 2017 [hit]
Goals for November:
1. Grow to 6.3M MAU
2. Grow to $1.09M revenue
3. Launch Android v.2.3
4. Hire two salespeople – please help us with leads!
5. Identify and sign lease for office location for 2017-2019
// Update on product roadmap, highlighting key launches and learnings backed by data.
- Launched iOS v2.3 which is mostly bug fixes and performance updates
- Planning to launch Android v2.3 this month
- Q1 2017 Roadmap is locked. We will focus on driving more sellers in Q1 as we expect that side of our marketplace to have been underserved once we launch all of our buyer features through Q4.
//Quick summary on how big the company is, any surprises on hiring, and if there are new people, two sentences on who they are, where they are from, what they will do.
//Humans like looking at other humans’ faces. So put some faces in here. Humanizing your company is important!
We are now 26 full-time people and 8 contractors/consultants. Recent hires:
- Carla Stephenson: Carla was most recently Director of Sales managing eBay autos. She will be managing North American sales for us (3 salespeople). <LinkedIn profile>
We are behind on hiring salespeople. We thought we would want less experienced people that we could train. However, after interviewing less experienced candidates, we realized we needed to get a manager in place first (Carla) and decided to focus entirely on hiring the manager before hiring two more junior salespeople.
We also just sent off our class of awesome summer interns (photo attached). They did all sorts of great work ranging from overhauling our logging infrastructure to revamping how we do customer support. Thanks interns!
We are still hiring for 3 roles (2 salespeople, 1 designer): <link to careers page>
6. Marketing & Press
// PR and Marketing wins here with links to press
// fine to have this just say “No Updates” because that’s still an update
No updates on press.
Our online marketing efforts have been 20% more expensive than projected, so we’ve had to spend more acquiring customers to maintain our revenue run rate. Details in the financials section.
// This section can get involved and complicated. Financials get more fleshed out as you get farther along. For a seed stage company, just calling out the cash balance, runway, and when you want to go raise again is great
// Even just showing a simple breakdown of the current revenue and expenses inspires a lot of confidence
// if something is not going well, own it and describe why. Call out if you don’t know why.
- Cash Balance: $12.3M
- Runway (forward looking, assuming no revenue growth): 12 months
- Targeting next fundraise: Summer 2017
We missed on revenue projections for October because we pulled back on our ad spend to conserve marketing budget for Q4 holiday season. We under estimated cost-of-customer acquisition in Q3, and to hit our revenue numbers we had to spend more money than anticipated. To make up for this extra spend, we pulled back our ad spend in October. We will resume our ad spend in Nov and Dec for the holiday season as we saw a residual lift last year through January from our holiday ad spend. We expect our revenue in Nov and Dec to be on target.
//I literally copied and pasted this in 15 seconds from a fake Excel I threw together.