I see many startups pitching for VC or angel money early in their life. The investor presentation is often first piece of collateral that the company produces. The second one is a web presence and people ask me how it should look like.

A fund raising web site of a company that is not operating yet is completely different from one that provides a service and/or processes live transactions: it is a relatively static piece of fund raising content. The only visitors it is likely to get are investors you have met or heard about you checking out the company, or maybe potential users that have found out about you in the rumor mill. The web site should be designed with that audience in mind.

The content of an investor web site can be very minimal, look and feel should be highly professional. Let’s start with the look and feel.
  • URL. Make sure that you have the URL to your company name and that your sites uses it (and that you use it for your emails). This is check 0 of an investor to see whether you are actually real or not. Gmail addresses and Google sites do not score you any points here.
  • Template. The site needs to look like that of a serious company, not a MySpace social media profile. Just setting up a Wordpress blog in disguise (i.e., a blog template that is used as a static site) with a nice minimalist template should do (go to sites like Theme Forest to find one).
  • Style, colors, and logo. The rules for designing good PowerPoint slides also apply to web pages. No need for spectacular effects, reflections, animations. It should just look clean and calm. Contrary to a PowerPoint slide, your logo should be up there (nicely done in a crystal clear sharp image, no dirty and blurry graphics here), and the color scheme of the web site should reflect the colors in the logo.
  • Real images. If you put up pictures, make sure that they are of real people, and stay away from cheesy stock images. Anyone can see that pretty call center operator with hear headset is not manning your busy phones day and night.
Now moving on to content. This can be kept incredibly simple. At this stage in the life of the company, your site is a place holder, an online brochure. No need to add a lot of stuff, or start padding it with SEO terms. People get to your site by typing in the URL, not by Googling a keyword.
  • You. Make sure that the names, (very short) bios, and - if possible - the pictures of your management team is on the site. Again, investors check out whether you exist, and it is re-assuring to see the names behind the company appear on the web site. Get decent bio pictures that are similar in style, or even better have a team group photo taken.
  • An address. A physical address and a real phone number shows that you exist and that there is a way for people to contact you. 
  • No dead feeds. A news section, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a blog should only be put on the site of their are humming with activity. A Twitter account with not followers and 2 Tweets and and the last news item from 2 years ago do not add to the credibility of your page.
  • What do you do. A very simple and brief description about what the company is about (within the boundaries what you want to make public. You can apologize that at this stage you cannot disclose information but provide an email address to request beta invites or express interest as a potential investor.
So, these are the most important elements. For these, no web designer is required if you know how to program a blog template. The site gives you a professional online presence and not more. If you are daring though, you can consider putting up part of your actual investor presentation which is what this company did.

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