The Deck -- How to Make the Most of Your Mentor Session


The Deck, with Keith Teare and Wendy Lea; moderated by BlogHer Co-Founder Elisa Camahort Page.

Elisa: The purpose of the deck is about your positioning. We have reviewed a lot of decks between the three of us. Let me start with Keith. Elaborate what you meant re not deck first, but conversation first.

The Deck
Photo Credit: Danielle Tsi

Keith: Deck should represent a self learning exercise. Need to have passion. Determination. Partly intuition. Partly crazy. But you feel sure it's right to you. Have to go through this process or the deck will be anemic. When I see a presentation, the diff is between night and day. It's their email that grabs me, not the deck. I'm interested in whether they have the endurance, and the passion first.

Elisa: How long can an email be?

Keith: I like the ones that are cheeky. Looking for personality and drive.

Elisa: There's a ine line between stalker and an entrepreneur. How does one articulate quickly what they're all about?

Wendy: I've been a bootstrap entrepreneur person. I had no idea about raising money. The first part of my journey. The second part happened when I met with Brad Feld. I've learned a lot about this thing called a deck. Any investor is going to look at you: Your experience, your expertise, your passion. How long you've been dealing with a product. Solution to a problem you have a passion about. The product is an important part of your capability. An extension of you. And your passion. The holistic view of you and your product. The extended product, partners, a whole solution. Gotta get out of the feature story, and get into the bigger story and problem/solution. I had lots of stress building a deck. I wanted it to be beautiful before I could tell the story. I lost the plot many times.

Elisa: I watch American Idol. Billy is a story teller. Singers were destroying Billy Joel's songs. They weren't telling his story. People give people money. Issues with likability and personality. How do you capture the essence of "me."

Keith: Not a single answer to that. I've had a number of experiences but it's so personal. It's as much about me as the other person. I like strong women.

Elisa: There has to be chemistry. Trying to win them over is a waste of time.

Wendy: You have to be centered to notice the chemistry. Sometimes the thinking gets in the way. Not getting to eager. Noticing what's happening and observing. Pace before you lead. Listen. Look at body mechanics. The nuance stuff. Before you lead with your story. Be present or you'll miss cues and clues. Pay attention. I've finally settled down and relaxed around this process. The investors wanted me to lead. I got that scheme down. We were a whole. We needed to be integrated to be able to spell a viable story. I had to raise the first round of money. I was unsuccessful. I raised an inside round. I got better as I went along. It goes easier but more deliberate.

Elisa: Having co-founders and partners. When do you bring on another partner or new CEO. Big question. Key point. Do you know why they needed a CEO.

Wendy: They couldn't raise any money. They needed someone else. For me, I was so passionate about what they were doing.

Keith: Sometimes investors fall in love fast too. Your expressing yourself though the deck. Geniuses. I'm on my 10th startup.

Elisa: Tactical questions.

Keith: Idea is most important for me. Gotta be a big idea, especially for venture investing. At least 100m out 5 years out. When I was trying to get money back in the day, my accent got in the way of funding. We sold a service, and went public without raising a cent. Some business are not fundable. You gotta figure out which funding you need. You have to tell the story well.

Wendy: If you're going to sand hill road, you need to have a deck. The presentation depends on what you have to show.

Elisa: What kind of financials do you show? How many years out?

Keith: You have to do numbers, but it depends on the ideas stage. No one will believe numbers. But they want to see how you're thinking. What are the variables? All the details about sales and pricing. Early stage, not a primary role. Early on, it's about who you are, and the idea.

Elisa: Address competition.

Keith: Very specific to the idea. When you're in love with an idea, you believe that there's no competition. But you need be realistic. It describes the eco-system you're in. It shows your thinking.

Wendy: It's a matter of the insight of the marketplace. I'm so pragmatic. It depends on what round you're in. It is validating to see the competition. Investors need to hear that competitive discussion.

Q: I'm at a transition point. Is it going to grow as a business? I've been elevating women in tech. I need to get clear about opportunities for me.

Keith: What's your passion?

Q: My passion is the interaction and conversations. Sweet spot live environment with people. Women talking about transitions, defining them selves.

Keith: Sounds to me intuitively that it's a business with lifestyle money not venture money. Curating content is important, huge area of growth. There's opportunity for bigger businesses. Specialized topics.

Elisa: Have you gone through non profit and for profit research regarding positioning yourself?

Q: I lean toward profit.

Keith: Your pitch is relative to the bootstrap. You need a couple of hundred thousand dollars to build up an events biz. Curation is totally different.

Wendy: You're spinning out. What is the core of what you want to do? That's the nugget. Start with the core. Who would want to invest in that and then ask the other questions?

Q2: I own a creative blog. My idea was the inspiration board. I found a guy who could develop the site. I'm a creator. Place for people can choose their frames. Magazine style. Creative community. Get inspired. I'm wondering where I go from here. It's all virtual.

Wendy: Have you heard of Pinterest.

Q2: My thing is different. You can choose a private option. Main gallery as well.

Keith: It's in an interesting area. People are beginning to want tools to express themselves. It would be awesome to think mobile.

Wendy: I'd start there. The mobile experience is important. Make sure whoever builds this has plenty of sharing features. Road needs to be organic. Go that direction.

Elisa: Tapping into something that a significant amount of people want. Who is your target? Tap into passion and enabling people.

Wendy: Mobile is a platform of distribution.

Keith: Inspiration board is great. We have one at home. It's a real thing. Take that real world experience and make it tangible, keep it human. True to yourself. You have to get people to glom on to you. You're started in the right place.

Wendy: I have to plug "get satisfaction."

Q3: I'm in classical music PR. The challenge is when I speak to industry leaders in the sector. Is there a better way to position myself?

Elisa: I come from an arts background. I created and marketed this show. Got the model down, and then sold a bunch of theaters involved. Skin in the game. I created a case study.

Q3: I run against turf wars. Me being a women and 25, I come up against a wall.

Wendy: I suggested some things on to social media, and helped create a larger audience.

Keith: I love what Yo Yo Ma is doing. Trick is to teach them the tools. think of clever ways to get attention through social media.

Elisa closes and says thanks.


[Editor's note: The transcript above reflects what the liveblogger heard, to the best of her ability, but is not a verbatim transcript of the session. As such, it may contain abbreviations or paraphrases.]