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So You’re a Startup: How to Write a One Pager

This is the fifth post in our So You’re A Startup series! Every week, we’re bringing you new content and answering your questions on starting up. This week, we’re giving you some insight into how to write a one pager. We hope to fill in the gaps and make sure you don’t miss anything essential that potential investors need to know.

In addition to investors, many competitions (like the VeloCity Venture Fund) and accelerators will ask you to include a one pager in your application. This summary of your business tells the reader why you deserve their time, mentorship, or investment. It gets to the point and it’s easy to read & circulate amongst networks.

A one pager is essentially a written pitch that’s harder to perfect. When you’re pitching to someone in person, they’ll probably at least half listen to you. But when you give someone your one pager, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to read it all, or ever read it at all. So you need to start big – create a captivating one line pitch that can’t be ignored. This one line will become what you say to people when they ask you what you do. It can go on your website, your Twitter and your Facebook page. This one line is the one line that really matters – spend some time on it!

Also keep in mind what the point of your one pager is – you need to have some sort of central argument or thesis that answers the question, “Why am I writing this?” Do you want investment, are you looking for a mentor, are you entering a competition? These are the questions you need to ask yourself before getting started.

Be sure to talk about your problem and why it matters. The problem you’re solving is often the most compelling thing that the readers of your one pager will be able to relate to. Since you want Investor X to read your entire one pager, it’s a good idea to start here and get him hooked. If he relates to your problem and wants to know your solution, he’s more than likely to keep reading.

Then of course, like in a standard pitch, you need to bring up your actual product, your solution to that big problem. Keep in mind that the job of your one pager is to sell your idea, not necessarily describe it in full detail. Be concise and only include points involved in explaining what you actually do. There’s no need and no room to get extra technical.

Now’s the time to talk about your team. Explain why each member is valuable, what they do, and why they do it. It might seem like this is getting away from your idea but often, investors care the most about the team. Ideas are a dime a dozen so it’s likely that Investor X has heard your idea before. He needs to know that your team can hustle and is willing to do anything to get things done – convincing him of that is what will make him trust you with his money.

You’re going to get to the point where you think you’re done with your one pager – you’re almost done. Since you know your product, you might have forgotten to include things that seem obvious to you. So get an outside opinion. Someone who isn’t so close to your startup will be able to tell you what questions you forgot to answer and they’ll also be able to do a bit of editing. This is the beauty of a one pager, it’s not a one time pitch, it can be reworked to death.

Now that you’ve got some feedback, do some self-editing. Make sure your one pager:

1. Is easy to follow and is clear
2. Is honest (exaggeration is very easy to identify in text)
3. Talks about your market and your competition
4. Answers questions that investors might have in a succinct way (ie. Why should I invest in you?)
5. Addresses how your idea is a business with the potential to make profit

Try to really think about your company from an outside perspective. Your one pager is a stand alone document – answer your reader’s questions before they ask them.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a one pager?


Stay tuned for next week’s SYAS, we’re going to tackle an extremely valuable topic: financial statements.