Explaining tech to an “ignorant” investor

Chat with any entrepreneur, just as they are about to launch into an explanation of their whiz technology, and you will get the same response. “I will just take ten minutes to explain the basics of my revolutionary tech, which I invented whilst studying for my doctorate. I will refer to only 10 long words that do not appear in the Oxford English Dictionary.”

To the dumb investor, the story ends up sounding like goobledygook. English? The presenter might have used Vietnamese.

But is that person, who is holding on to the money, really that dumb? Just because he or she does not understand turbines or internet connections or chemicals, remember that they often possess another asset. Their speciality is to spot a product or service, suitable for commercialisation, and a team that can support that drive. 

However, if the entrepreneur retains the language of a university textbook (from east Asia), their investor will cut the conversation short and return to playing poker on his iPhone. So how to avoid the trap?

A recent blog by from 3Sixty tackled this very point. Their three-point approach can be summed up as: –

Think of your data or technical information as a blank canvas. You need to paint a slightly different painting for each audience. You need to ensure that it’s relevant to each audience and that you answer the question – why is this audience interested in this information, what does it mean to them and what do I want them to do as a result of experiencing this presentation.

Simple? I am not so sure. I have seen some clients adjust rapidly, while others repeatedly prefer to whip out their 30 slide presentation at any opportunity, which is often inappropriate.

One techy, who was supreme at “dummying-it-down” was the late Steve Jobs. His biographer, Walter Isaacson, argues that:

…. the real lessons from Steve Jobs have to be drawn from looking at what he actually accomplished. ……. (Jobs) said it was Apple the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great product. How did he do it?

Well, Isaacson gives a detailed response to hiw own question. And I will add one further consideration. Surely, one aspect has to be that Jobs made his products appealing and obvious to even the greatest of non-techies, including this writer.

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