Tip #93: Milestones

Tip 93: Miscellaneous tips – “milestones”. We move into a final set of “miscellaneous” tips – things that didn’t really fit in the other categories, but will help avoid some common mistakes.

First up, pitches often include a timeline of historical “milestones.” This can be a useful part of your introduction, though it doesn’t need a whole slide. It can also be a wonderful set of pointless data that adds nothing to a pitch other than to waste precious seconds or brain power deciphering.

Consider some of these “milestones” (from different real presentations):

  • 2013 – Market Research, Patent Search
  • Research, planning and business development – 2011 & Before
  • First Press – Early 2014
  • Convert from LLC to C-Corp—November 2014—Completed
  • Establish HQ in Charleston – June 2015
  • Launched April 1, 2013
  • Provisional Patent filed [over a year ago]

Many of these are simply not milestones. Some give too much detail (we don’t need the day the milestone occurred; "Completed" is obvious). Others raise more questions (April 1, really?; what happened to the provisional patent?). For all of them, inclusion has a net negative benefit.

Use historical milestones sparingly.

Even harder are forecast milestones. This doesn’t apply so much to pitches, but when we are deep in diligence we probably see old business plans or pitch decks. (This is particularly the case when we are looking at a “second seed round” or other follow-on round.) When we see “reach 100 customers” by today, but compare your customer list of 10 names, we’re going to have many questions. Perhaps there is not much you can do about this – and we know no-one ever hits their projections – but you need extremely convincing answers to why you didn’t hit these previous forecast milestones in order for us to believe your newest set of forecast milestones.

And lastly - financing rounds are not milestones.