VC Cliché of the Week

When its time to hit the road and raise some money, I have been known to say, "let’s put together our dog and pony show".

Charlie suggested I make that phrase my cliche of the week.  So it forced me to do some research on the phrase "dog and pony show". It’s amazing that I have literally said this phrase hundreds of times and have no idea what the genesis of the term is.

So I turned to Wikipedia, which many schools are telling their students to avoid but I still think is the best information source out there.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the topic:

Dog and pony show was a colloquial term used in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century to refer to small traveling circuses that toured through small towns and rural areas. The name derives from the typical use of performing dogs and ponies
as the main attractions of the events. Performances were typically held
in open-air arenas, such as race tracks or municipal parks. The
performances were typically held in areas that were too small or remote
to attract bigtop
performances. In the latter part of the 20th century, the original meaning of the term has largely been lost.

The term has come to mean any type of presentation or display that is somewhat pathetically contrived or overly intricate

Sounds right to me.

And Investopedia adds this important twist to the term:

Also known as a "dog and pony show", a road show is when the management
of a company issuing securities or doing an IPO travels around the
country giving presentations to analysts, fund managers, or potential investors.

So there it is, a dog and pony show used to be a cheap version of a traveling circus featuring dogs and ponies, but now it means a road show where management travels around meeting with potential investors.

Both are certainly traveling circuses.  But in the modern version, the tricks are different.  Getting the wifi and the LCD projector to work in the three minutes before the investors come into the conference room is a particular favorite of mine.

Like all performances, it is critical to be well practiced and nail the tricks when the moment comes. If you are not experienced in presentations, it helps to get a coach.  I am not a fan of investment banks for anything but very large late stage financings and IPOs.  In those cases, they will make sure you are well practiced and coached. But for early or mid-stage companies, it’s largely a do it yourself experience.  And it can be very frustrating.

So find a good presentation coach and let them help you tune your presentation and coach you so when its time to do your tricks, you do them well.

And it helps to think of it as a dog and pony show. You are the main attraction. If you think of it that  way, it may help you get through what can be a very grueling experience.

I will post a few blog resources to help you with your dog and pony show, starting with this one:

Allen Morgan’s Ten Commandments For Entrepreneurs (I don’t know of a link to all ten)