Do you recommend including financial projections in a startup's executive summary?
I have heard some VCs say they don't care about the projections at an early stage since it is so uncertain, but other investors want to see them.
I never do, personally. That said, it is very business dependent. For very high growth businesses, the financials they want to understand generally elate to customer acquisition costs and overall market size which are not the projections you are talking about.
For consumer product companies, financial projections are very important to the executive summary.
The summary should not speak tot he plan so much as to the advantages and why you (above all others) will win this battle.
I agree with the comments here - it is a good planning step to create these financials and you will certainly want to have them ready if the VC conversations move forward. However, detailed financials are not required in the Executive Summary deck. I usually suggest that you add a slide around "comparables" so that your industry fit and growth goals are obvious to investors. Happy to talk more if you'd like.
I'm not sure which VC would say they don't care about the money. I would like to meet them though because I have a great idea of selling air in a box. Anyway, when I write business plans for clients, I estimate I spend about half the time just doing the financials/pro forma. Absolutely necessary to do as an exercise. At the very least, you begin, as an entrepreneur, to really think through your idea.