Developers Cubed: Guy Kawasaki On How To Score App Funding

Guy Kawasaki knows what pops with technology. He worked with Apple to sell the first Macintosh back in the 1980s, and since then he’s gone on to be a venture capitalist and a judge on the Vodafone Foundation’s App Aid hackathon panel. It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about investing cash in app start-ups, so what does he think you should do to ensure your app scores funding?

Plane Talking

First impressions are crucial, says Guy. If you don’t have someone’s attention or approval in the first minute, it means you’ll spend 59 minutes trying to fight that bad impression, and your message will be lost.

Your funding may just live or die by that first 60 seconds.

“In the first minute, the audience should understand what the hell you do, not who the team is, not the size of the market, none of that,” he tells me.

People often treat their pitch like a 747 take-off, Guy explains.

“A 747 needs 2-miles of runway to take off, and at 1.9 miles, it takes off, right? That’s wrong. You should think of an F-18 fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. It goes from 0- to 600-miles per hour in 1.8 seconds. That’s what you need to do.

Most people use a 747 approach. They say [slowly] ‘this is our team…this is the market size…you must know this problem. Blah, blah blah!’. Scrap that. Say to them ‘this is what we do: we make an app so that a restaurant who has extra food can donate it very quickly by sending us an SMS’. Boom, done. You don’t have to prove that there’s a lot of hungry people, or that there’s a lot of wasted food. If you’re with an audience that doesn’t understand those things…you’re probably not pitching to the right people anyway,” he says.

A Little Less Conversation…

Guy has a fire in his eyes now, he’s obviously heard so many of these boring pitches. His second tip confirms my hypothesis.

“Number two [tip] is get to the demo.

“Everybody planned their [App Aid] presentation so that they had six minutes, and for some reason they planned it like they had four minutes of building the case for their app and two minutes for showing the app, it should be the reverse: four minutes of demo and two minutes of building the case.

“The most important part of a great pitch is the demo. Steve Jobs never had a keynote session where he said ‘first, let me size the smartphone market for you…according to IDC-this…’. Get to the demo. Quickly.”

Powerpoint: Better The Devil You Know

Powerpoint is almost universally bad in pitches, but sometimes it’s necessary to convey a message you need to drive home. Try Guy’s quintessential rule of Powerpoint in your presentation and you should hang onto people long enough for them to grab their chequebooks before they grab a nap.

“If you’re going to do a pitch, use a maximum of ten slides. This is my 10/20/30 rule of Powerpoint: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font. If people did that, the world would be a better place,” he says through a wry smile.

In the lead-up to your app’s next pitch meeting, follow these tips for success.

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