This blog addresses three steps to winning in the Grant Tank.
- Project on a Page
- Question and Answer
Most of us have seen the show Shark Tank, but for those few who haven’t, here is the bottom line.
A company pitches (aka, presents) to investors. The investors then ask questions. If the entrepreneur isn’t prepared, they get drilled by the Sharks – and frankly, drilled is putting it mildly. The unprepared leave the tank without a deal.
So, you may ask, what does that have to do with grants?
Many entrepreneurs go into the Grant Tank unprepared.
Let me back up.
Most entrepreneurs don’t even know there is a Grant Tank.
There’s no fancy television that exists for it.
But here is what exists: millions (if not billions) of non-diluting financing.
Did you get that?
Most entrepreneurs don’t believe it, but it’s as true as the taxes you will pay.
SHARKS IN THE GRANT TANK
Grants are a key way the government supports innovation; it doesn’t have many options.
Unlike the Shark Tank savvy investors, the sharks in the Grant Tank are bureaucrats on the grant agency staff.
How crazy is that?
And, instead of having serial entrepreneurs reviewing your company, you often must get through layers of bureaucrats to get funded.
Most bureaucrats don’t have strong (if any) business backgrounds, so you need to think very differently – you need to think in terms of risk, or “de-risk.”
Like me many bureaucrats have liberal arts degrees not business degrees, so you need to know your audience. You need to pitch to them in a way that makes sense TO THEM.
GRANT TIP: AND YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON THE GOVERNMENT’S OBJECTIVES, NOT YOUR OWN.
How would you ever know that if you haven’t worked in and around government for years?
And I want to teach you – just like I teach my clients – how to win in Grant Tank meetings.
I’ve developed a 15-step guide to winning your grant meeting. I want to share the three most critical aspects of winning your grant meeting: grant on a page, question and answer, and biographies.
GRANT TIP: IF YOU WANT TO WIN YOUR GRANT MEETING, YOU MUST PROVIDE A CLEAR ONE PAGER ABOUT YOUR PROJECT WITH A QUESTION AND ANSWER DOCUMENT BEFORE YOU MEET THEM.
You must get these three pieces right to be successful. I’ve had grant agency staff tell my staff they are thrilled with the information BEFORE they meet.
Time to walk through the three pieces to help prepare you for winning a grant
GRANT ON A PAGE
Keep in mind that the grant agency bureaucrats you’re dealing with very busy people. They don’t have a ton of time to read through a long, detailed description of your proposed project (engineers read that last sentence two more times – you know it’s true :).
If you can fit your project on a single page, then the chances of the grant agency reading your post skyrockets. Grant on a page is your first piece.
You need to put together a single page that explains …
- Who you are
- What you want to do
- Where you want to do it
- When you want to start
- Why you want to do it
- How much funding you need to do it
Except for the why section, you shouldn’t use more than three lines to answer any of these questions.
That’s tough, I know – but you can provide more detail later.
By keeping things short, busy bureaucrats will be more far more likely to read it. And they’ll be able to tell very quickly if you qualify for the grant – and that is something you need to know up front.
GRANT TIP: YOU DON’T WANT TO SPEND HOURS WORKING ON A GRANT PROPOSAL THAT YOU DON’T EVEN QUALIFY FOR – SO ASK THE GRANT AGENCY FIRST.
QUESTION AND ANSWER
Once you complete the grant on a page, you’ll see that there are going to be a lot questions that come up. You need to think about these questions from the view point of the bureaucrat that just read your grant on a page.
What kind of questions are they going to have? I can promise you that one question that is very important: how do your project helps the grant agency meet its objectives.?
They will also have questions about things like who your target customers or what the market is like for your product.
Remember we talked about the Grant Tank, and the questions the bureaucrats are going to drill you with. These are those questions. Think these things through, write out clear answers, and you will find a much more appreciative and receptive audience in the Grant Tank.
This section runs about two to two and half pages long and is the second key piece to help you prepare for winning a grant.
The third key piece you need to have is the bios of the key players in your company.
This section lets the grant agency know a little bit more about who you are.
It lets them see your credentials. It helps them to realize that you are qualified to carry this project through. The biography section is key to establishing your credibility – and convincing them that investing grant money in your project is a low risk.
Remember we talked about how bureaucrats usually don’t have a business background. Many of the choices they make when it comes to grants is based on risk.
They don’t want to invest the grant money on high risk projects. The aim to de-risk, or invest in low risk projects (even if they don’t admit it). Your bio helps them establish the level of risk involved in investing in your project. You must demonstrate that your team has the background – in terms of education, experience, and skill – to get the job done.
The return on a grant is unmatched, but you need to know what you are doing.
I have seen really smart people get eaten alive in the Grant Tank; they left feeling frustrated. If you don’t want to be one of them, we can help.
The first step is to take a short survey and determine if you qualify for grants. If you do, we will contact you and help you take your business to the next level. http://albertabusinessgrants.ca/needs-assessment