Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #46

The dreaded one-pager... eek!

Back during my fundraising days, few things frustrated me more than having to create a “one-pager.” In case you haven’t encountered the dreaded task, a “one-pager” is, as the name suggests, a single page summary of your startup. Investors would constantly ask me for this when I emailed them. Eventually, I got so tired of being asked for it that I just sent it along with my initial email… which, in retrospect, was probably a huge mistake.

I haven’t thought about one-pagers in a while. If I’m being honest, I’ve intentionally tried erasing all memories of creating them. But, in the Q&A this week, an entrepreneur asked for advice about her one-pager, so I revisited the topic. If you’re fighting the same battle, be sure to check out my answer.

Also, check out all the other articles. Lots of them unintentionally have a fundraising theme to them, and that’s kind of ironic because this week’s Web Masters features Eli Shapira, founder of Webtrends, a company he took public without ever raising venture capital. So… yeah… you can build your billion dollar market cap without raising VC, meaning everything in this issue is basically worthless.


Still, I hope you enjoy it. And, if you do, don’t forget to share it…

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Office Hours Q&A



I was reading your recent articles about sending cold emails. I’ve been doing that a lot lately by emailing TONS of angel investors. A lot of them aren’t responding, and I’m definitely going to use your advice to try to get more responses.

But I’m also running into another issue. The ones who do respond keep asking to see my “one-pager,” and, after I send that, they stop responding. I assume it’s because my one-pager isn’t any good. Do you have any advice about that? How do I create a one-pager that’s compelling for investors?




Arrrrrrrgh… the dreaded “one-pager.” Back when I was first fundraising, I hated having to send one-pagers. And I’m not even sure “hate” is a strong enough word.

I hated the idea that I was supposed to convey everything of significance about my company in a single page. I’d spend hours upon hours upon hours trying to squeeze in the exact right information to tell the story of my company in a compelling way. Then I’d send off my one-pagers when asked for, and I’d ultimately find myself in the same position as you: at the end of a conversation that never really got started.

There’s something inherently black-box-ish about the entire process. You send out a document, but you don’t get any direct feedback on it, so you know it’s not effective, but you don’t know why it’s not effective, and you can’t find out.

For me, this led to a frustrating cycle. I’d constantly workshop my one-pagers, desperately trying to make them more compelling. But I never really knew what I needed to fix. Andm no matter what I did, the success rate of sending one-pagers never seemed to improve.

Eventually, I figured out what I think is the problem. But be warned... it’s actually somewhat counterintuitive.

Most people think one-pagers are meant to condense the information about a startup down to its most important parts. If it can’t fit on a single page, it doesn’t matter. But the problem with one-pagers is that one page is actually too much space. When entrepreneurs have an entire page to fill, they think they need to fill it, so they end up including more info than necessary.

For their part, investors fall for a similar trap. In a one-pager, they expect to see a page full of information about a company that’s going to get them excited. But no full page about any company is going to get someone excited. A page is too much space, and it will mostly be filled with relatively unexciting things… product features, team members, etc.

Rather than a one-pager, you want a one-sentencer. What’s a single sentence you can send in your email that makes an investor excited enough to talk with you? Because remember… the purpose of an intro email to an investor isn’t to convince the person to invest. The purpose of the email is to start a conversation.

One-pagers stink because they’re not good at starting conversations. Instead, they contain so much information that they tend to replace conversations, and that’s bad for entrepreneurs because nobody is going to invest based on reading a single page about a company.

Your goal should be to avoid the one-pager trap. Focus on sending an email so compelling (in 4 sentences or less, with one of those sentences being your “one-sentencer”), that investors don’t bother asking for a one-pager because they’re already excited to meet.

In other words, by the time investors you’re emailing are asking for a one-pager, you’ve already lost. Don’t give them reason to ask.

Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!