What We’re Looking for in Early-stage Companies
Do the skills and experience of the management team prepare it to take on the challenges and risks implicit in the business? We are looking for teams with prior domain and startup experience.
Our members prefer companies that are in-revenue or have some other meaningful proof of traction. The best way to prove that your target market wants your product is for them to buy it.
What’s to prevent a competitor from taking your idea? This can take the form of direct protection like patents or exclusive licenses, but we’ll also want to see indirect protection like speed to market, management’s ability to pivot, and operational efficiencies that are difficult to imitate.
We want to know that your business model allows your company to absorb the full value of your core innovation. Ideally, we’d see this in a growing profit margin (EBITDA), but we’ll want to know your plan to make it happen in your application and pitch.
We give special consideration to companies that—in addition to meeting the above criteria—have Tbirds on the management team or advisory board or are sourced from Thunderbird’s extensive global alumni network. Please let us know in your application.
Information to Include in your Application
HOW THE PROCESS WORKS
CREATE A PROFILE
We process all of our applications through Gust.com.
To apply to present to the Thunderbird Angel Network, create a profile on Gust.com and upload supporting documents such as a pitchbook, business plan, marketing plan, and financial information. Please be sure to include as many materials as possible, as we rely on them heavily to make initial assessments.
SHARE YOUR VENTURE
Once your profile is complete, you can give us access to your profile.
You may do so by clicking, “Browse Investors” at the top left of the page. Search for “Thunderbird Angel Network.” Click the blue button, “Share now,” next to the green banner, “Share your venture with Thunderbird Angel Network.”
Once approved, we will set a presentation date.
While waiting, you should continue to prepare to present at one of our TAN Dinners.
SCREENING & SELECTION PROCESS
We start reviewing applications in Gust.com 1 month before our meetings and select our initial round of companies 3 weeks before our meetings. Thus, you should plan to have all documents uploaded to your Gust profile by the 1st of the month in which we’re meeting.
Our pre-screening committee selects 8 companies for consideration of our members, who rate those companies. The top 4 companies are invited to present at our dinner meeting. If you are chosen, you will receive an invitation by email at least 10 days before our meeting. To confirm your desire to present to TAN, you will be asked to register your company the week before the meeting.
There should only be one person per company giving the presentation (CEO), but the CEO may bring 1 to 2 guests from the company for support and to help with the Q&A session. The presentation fee is $50.00 per company and the cost to attend the event is $40.00 per attendee. Therefore, the registration fee for the presenting company’s CEO is $90.00 total, and any additional presenting company guest should pay $40.00 each to register.
Your presentation should be a 9-12 minute PowerPoint presentation. We have found that companies are most successful at securing investment if the CEO of the company delivers the presentation. However, another senior management team member may assist the CEO in answering questions during the ensuing 5-10 minutes Q&A session. The company’s PowerPoint presentation should be sent to the TAN manager by noon the day before the investor dinner.
After your presentation members will discuss their interest. If one or more investors are interested in pursuing investment in your company, they will form a due diligence committee and contact you directly after the dinner meeting. The investors will have 1 to 2 months to complete due diligence. If the investors are interested after the due diligence is complete, they will contact you in order to schedule a time to discuss next steps.
If our members do not decide to invest in your company, the manager will let you know within 4 days and send you feedback from our members.
Tips for a Successful Presentation
- Your CEO should deliver the entire presentation. However, another senior management team member may assist the CEO in answering questions during the ensuing Q&A.
- The CEO should have practiced his or her presentation several times and be able to deliver in 9-12 minutes. If a presentation goes over 12 minutes, the CEO may be permitted to speak for another minute or two, but this time will be deducted from the time for Q&A. Presenters will be given a two-minute warning. With this signal the presenter should concentrate on hitting key points and finishing on time.
- If an applicant already has a prominent investor or board member, we recommend that you bring that person to the investor dinner. No more than three people from the same company should attend an investor meeting.
- The PowerPoint presentation should be provided to TAN 24 hours ahead of the presentation for preloading. The venue operates on PC infrastructure.
- The slides should not be dense with information. Size 18-font is the smallest font that should be used. Financial tables can be the exception.
- The audience is primarily interested in the business aspects of the company.
- We will print your application from Gust.com for audience members. You are responsible and encouraged to bring any other key documents, including financial information or complex PPT slides that may be difficult to see in detail.
Ideas For Slide Deck Content
You may consider including the following information in your presentation. These should be presented in the order that makes most sense for your company’s story. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor do you need to include all points. These are just our suggestions.
- Problem Statement
- Business/Revenue Model
- Product/Service Description
- Current Status
- Management Team
- Financing Request & Terms