Lo Toney’s product manager playbook for pitch deck success

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The cold email worked — you’ve landed a meeting with your dream investor. Hell, you even set aside $40,000 for a pitch deck consultant to make sure your presentation looks suave.

One thing to figure out before you pick out a Zoom background: what information actually goes into those slides?

Lo Toney, founding managing partner at Plexo Capital, has advice for founders looking to raise money: think like a product manager while crafting your pitch deck. Toney has helped shape products at Zynga, Nike and eBay, and currently serves as both a GP and an LP at Plexo Capital, which invests in funds and startups. He’s done a ton of pitching and gotten pitched himself, which is why we invited him to TechCrunch Early Stage 2020.

“The framework of product management is very similar to the same playbook used by an early-stage investor and early-stage investors in the absence of an abundance of data,” Toney said. “They’re really thinking very similar to a product manager to evaluate an opportunity.”

Crafting a solid pitch deck is critical to the success of a startup seeking venture capital. Investors, however, spend less than four minutes on average per deck, and some even tell you that you have half that much time (so either talk fast or pick your favorite slides). Even if you have the business to prove that you’re the next Stripe, if you butcher the story behind the numbers, you could lose the potential to get the capital you need.

Toney said adopting a product manager mindset helps refine what that story looks and feels like.

“The story is not your product. It’s not your company, and it’s not the entrepreneur. It’s how your customer’s world is going to be better when your product has solved their problem,” he said, quoting Rick Klau from GV.

In action, Toney broke down the framework into four key slides: problem, market, solution and, of course, team.

Problem

First up, most investors say they want to see the problem you’re trying to solve up high. Toney is no different.

“I like to see an entrepreneur describing the desired outcome first, and then what are some of those roadblocks that come along the way to that desired outcome?” he asked. Similar to a product manager, founders could illustrate the different challenges that could come to executing a solution on a specific problem.



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What Is Information Technology?

At the most basic level, information technology is the application of technology to solve business or organizational problems on a broad scale. No matter the role, a member of an IT department works with others to solve technology problems, both big and small.

There are three primary pillars of responsibility for an IT department:

  1. IT governance: This refers to the combination of policies and processes that ensure IT systems are effectively run and in alignment with the organization’s needs.
  2. IT operations: This is a catchall category for the daily work of an IT department. This includes providing tech support, network maintenance, security testing and device management duties.
  3. Hardware and infrastructure: This focus area refers to all the physical components of IT infrastructure. This pillar of IT includes the setup and maintenance of equipment like routers, servers, phone systems and individual devices like laptops.

Even though an organization’s IT department handles many different functions and plays a critical role in keeping things running, Andrey Prokopchuk, head of IT at Belitsoft, says the perfect IT department is the one you aren’t even aware of. This means that they are able to automate and create processes for many of their daily tasks, so that the business continues to run smoothly. The ideal IT department is also aligned with the business’s goals and transparent in its processes in a way that the rest of the business can understand and provide input on.

Why is information technology important?

Simply put, the work of most organizations would slow to a crawl without functioning IT systems. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t at least partially rely on computers and the networks that connect them. Maintaining a standard level of service, security and connectivity is a huge task, but it’s not the only priority or potential challenge on their plates.

More and more companies want to implement more intuitive and sophisticated solutions. “IT can provide the edge a company needs to outsmart, outpace and out-deliver competitors,” says Edward Kiledjian, a Chief Information Security Officer and technology blogger. Let’s take a look at the needs that current and future IT specialists will be working on:

  • Data overload: Businesses need to process huge amounts of data. This requires large amounts of processing power, sophisticated software and human analytical skills.
  • Mobile and wireless usages: More employers are offering remote work options that require smartphones, tablets and laptops with wireless hotspots and roaming ability.
  • Cloud services: Most businesses no longer operate their own “server farms” to store massive amounts of data. Many businesses now work with cloud services—third-party hosting platforms that maintain that data.
  • Bandwidth for video hosting: Videoconferencing solutions have become more and more popular, so more network bandwidth is needed to support them sufficiently.

Toyota plans outrageous Ferrari rival

TOYOTA’S Gazoo Racing performance is planning put a $1 million supercar in showrooms alongside a high-performance HiLux and warmed-over hatchbacks.

Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota’s Gazoo Racing arm, confirmed plans for a layered performance range to rival the likes of Mercedes-AMG in “a project which will be conducive to the transformation of Toyota”.

The manufacturer took its second victory at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race on Sunday, where the Japanese brand reaffirmed its commitment to the race.

New rules encourage marques to go racing with road-going supercars the public can buy, a return to the sport’s roots in the spirit of legendary cars such as the McLaren F1.

Toyota says it will compete with a hybrid “hypercar” at Le Mans in 2021 before introducing a road-going version of the race machine.

Aston Martin will join Toyota on the 2021 Le Mans grid with a racing version of its V12-powered Valkyrie hypercar – a car the British brand previously promised would be the fastest-ever road car around a racing circuit.

“Aston Martin has amazing history at Le Mans. It is a part of the company’s DNA,” Tomoyama says.

“I hope to create a similar link.

“Like Ferrari, Porsche and Audi, that is my dream,” he says.

At least one example of Toyota’s road-going Gazoo Racing Super Sports will come to Australia, with company spokesman Brodie Bott confirming that Toyota Australia has placed an order for the hybrid machine.