If you’re soliciting funds for your company, an excellent pitch deck is an essential weapon in your fundraising arsenal. A successful pitch deck piques the interest of potential investors and engages them in a discussion about your company, hopefully leading to an investment.
In this essay, I’ll walk you through the formula for creating your own pitch deck.
I’m using everything I’ve learned from seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of elevator speeches and pitch presentations. I’ve seen a variety of pitch decks and presentation styles and discovered a basic formula that works every time. Over the years, I’ve also constructed my own and presented to large Silicon Valley VC companies, learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
What Exactly Is A Pitch Deck?
A pitch deck, also known as a slide deck or start-up deck, is a concise yet useful description of your company. It should include the main features of your company strategy, your goods and services, high-level financial estimates, and capital requirements. Your pitch deck should stand on its own as a visual document, but it will be largely utilized to convey the story of your company.
What is the purpose of a pitch deck?
Although it may appear paradoxical, the aim of your pitch deck is not to acquire funds. What? I know it doesn’t seem right, but your pitch deck’s true aim is to get you to the next meeting.
Remember that your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely to be among the first things an investor will view in order to learn more about your firm. Because investments are rarely made after only one meeting, your objective should be to pique people’s interest in your organization. You want investors to ask for more after hearing your pitch, not simply show you the door. So, while a strong pitch deck is essential for collecting funds, the deck’s primary aim is to move to the next step—another meeting and a request for additional information.
What Should Your Pitch Deck Contain?
While every firm is unique, I’ve found that the following structure works for the majority of them and is most likely to pique the interest of potential investors.
Value Proposition And Vision
This is a one-sentence summary of your company and the value you deliver to your consumers. Keep it brief and straightforward. Consider this slide to be a brief tweet—describe your company in 140 characters or fewer in a way that your parents would understand.
It’s usual for IT firms to compare their value offer to that of another well-known company. For example, many proposals begin with phrases like “We’re the Uber for Pets” or “We’re the Netflix for Video Games.”
This can work, but make sure your comparison makes sense and you’re not merely citing a high-profile firm like Uber to indicate prospective development. Your business approach must be eerily similar to that of the firm you are mentioning.
You will have a hard uphill fight with your business if you are not fixing some problem in the world.
Use this slide to discuss the issue at hand and who is responsible for it. You can discuss existing market solutions, but don’t spend too much time on the competition environment on this slide—you’ll have another chance later.
When explaining the situation, it is best to create a relevant tale. The more realistic you can make the situation, the more your investors will comprehend your company and its aims represent the possibility for growth.
Target Market and Potential
Use this slide to describe your ideal customer and how many there are. What is the entire market size, and how does your firm fit into it? If the data is available, investors will want to know how much money people or firms are presently spending in the market to obtain a sense of the overall market size. This is where you tell the tale of the breadth and size of the problem you’re attempting to solve.
If it makes sense for your company, you should split your market and approach each area with distinct sorts of marketing and maybe different types of product offers. But be cautious with this decline. It is tempting to try to define your market as broadly as possible. Rather, investors will be looking for evidence that you have a very defined and approachable market. The more precise your pitch, the more believable it will be.
Finally, you may begin to describe your product or service. Describe how your product is used by clients and how it solves the challenges you mentioned on slide two.
You’ll be tempted to relocate this slide closer to the start of your pitch deck, but avoid the urge. This is a classic example of storytelling in which you build up the situation and illustrate how horrible it is for many individuals. Now your product or service is stepping in to assist address that problem.
Most entrepreneurs are preoccupied with their product when they should be preoccupied with their clients and the difficulties they confront. With this format, try to keep your pitch deck focused and you’ll tell a stronger tale. When describing your answer, include photos and tales if possible. Showing is almost always preferable to telling.
Business Or Revenue Model
After you’ve defined your product or service, you should discuss how it produces money. Who pays the bills and what do you charge? For certain organizations (such as content sites), advertisers pay the bills rather than consumers, therefore it’s critical to get the specifics right.
You may also demonstrate how your price fits into the bigger market by referencing the competition environment. Are you a premium, high-priced product, or a low-cost offering that undercuts existing market solutions?
Implementation And Validation/Roadmap
Talk about it here if you already have sales or early adopters utilizing your product. Investors want to see proof that you have validated some component of your business model since it minimizes risk, therefore any proof you have that verifies that your solution works to solve the problem you identified is highly powerful.
You may also use this slide to discuss your accomplishments. What main goals have you accomplished thus far, and what important next actions do you intend to take? A product or company plan outlining major milestones is useful in this situation.
Marketing And Sales Strategy
How do you want to attract clients’ attention, and what will your sales process entail? Outline your marketing and sales strategy on this slide. You should describe the major techniques you intend to utilize to bring your product in front of potential clients.
Finding and retaining consumers might be the most difficult hurdle for a business, therefore it’s critical to demonstrate that you understand how you want to reach your target market and what sales channels you intend to use.
If your marketing and sales process differs from that of your rivals, make it clear here.
Why are you and your team the best fit to start and grow this business? What expertise do you possess that others do not? Highlight the main team members, their previous accomplishments, and the significant skills they bring to the table.
Even if you don’t yet have a complete team, identify the essential jobs that need to be filled and why those positions are crucial to the company’s future.
Investors will demand to examine your financials for at least three years, including a sales projection, income statement (also known as a profit and loss statement), and cash flow prediction.
However, in-depth spreadsheets that are difficult to understand and consume in a presentation manner should not be included in your pitch deck. Limit your graphs to sales, total customers, total costs, and profits.
You should be prepared to present the underlying assumptions you used to arrive at your sales targets, as well as your primary spending drivers.
Remember to be as realistic as possible. Investors are constantly seeing “hockey stick” estimates and will subconsciously chop your projections in half. If you can explain your growth based on existing traction or in comparison to a similar firm in a related sector, it is highly helpful.
Every firm faces some type of competition. Even if you are entering a completely new industry, your potential clients are already adopting alternative solutions to solve their problems. Describe your place in the market’s competitive landscape and how you vary from the alternatives and rivals that are currently available. What distinct advantages do you possess over your rivals? Do you have a “secret sauce” that others don’t?
In this situation, it’s important to emphasize how you vary from the other market participants and why clients should pick you.
Investing And Money Management
It’s now time to make the official request for the money. You’re doing this pitch deck for that reason, right? I am aware that I stated that acquiring funding is not the goal of this pitch deck. That remains the case, but you must disclose your desired investment amount to potential investors. More significantly, you must be able to justify why you require the sum of money you are requesting and how you intend to use it. Investors will be curious about how their money is being utilized and how it will help you accomplish the objectives you have set for your company.
If you already have some investors on board, now is the time to discuss the other investors and their investment decisions.
Other Slides You Might Include In Your Pitch Deck
While you certainly want to keep your pitch deck brief, there may occasionally be a requirement or want to include a few more slides that aid in the explanation of your company. They won’t be used by you while you present, but they may be an excellent resource for investors to study later.
These extra slides can frequently be included in investor presentations.
You must explain to investors how they will receive a return on their investment if you are seeking their financial support. You do this by creating a “exit plan” slide that lists the prospective buyers of your business should you be successful in expanding it. Some high-growth firms might choose to go public and have an IPO, whilst other companies are more likely to be acquired by bigger competitors in your market.
Some companies’ success depends on important strategic collaborations. This frequently takes the form of intellectual property license from a college or a significant distributor who will sell your goods. It’s critical to highlight these collaborations if they are essential to your business.
Demo and screenshots
Include a placeholder slide in your presentation where you will really demonstrate to potential investors how your product functions and what it can accomplish if you have a prototype, screenshots of your web service, or any other “show and tell” chances.
Keeping your pitch deck as concise and succinct as possible is key. Keep in mind that giving investors all the information they require to make an investment choice is not your purpose. Its main goal is to engage the audience, create enthusiasm, and facilitate the crucial request for further details and a follow-up meeting.
You should have more comprehensive, supplementary information that you can present if asked for in addition to your pitch deck. Making these additional preparations can also assist you avoid trying to jam too much material into your presentation.
Tips To Make Your Pitch Successful
Here are some suggestions to help you deliver the best presentation you can:
Keep It Your Pitch Simple
Every entrepreneur spends many hours “in the weeds” contemplating each and every aspect of their company. Less information is preferable to too much for an investment pitch, though. Slides should be straightforward, explain high-level concepts, and provide opportunity for inquiries. Presentations with fewer slides and more direct language always perform better than those with more slides and more bullets.
Delete The Bullets
Specifically, exclude the bullets. Slides with a lot of bullet points are dull and don’t support narrative development. Try to keep the amount of words on each slide to a minimum and utilize big fonts. In order to better explain your tale and create a strong emotional connection with your ideas, wherever feasible, use photos.
Tell a story
Talk about more than simply the facts. Instead, concentrate on attracting attention and inspiring excitement in your audience. Your deck doesn’t have to serve as your company’s comprehensive manual. To go to the next stage, it only has to pique curiosity.
Telling tales about how your clients use your product, how they currently run into issues that need to be fixed, and how your business will improve their lives is one of the finest methods to do this. The more you can engage investors with relatable stories, the more you can generate interest in your business.
Your Presentation Should Be Brief
Allow plenty of time for inquiries, demonstrations, and discussion of your company idea. Aim for a 20–30 minute presentation if your meeting is an hour long.
Avoid exaggerating the market opportunity
Focus on bottom-up projections where you outline your expectations for how you’re going to gain clients rather than top-down forecasts that state that you “just need to get one percent of a vast market” to be successful.
Use the figures from an early version of your product’s sales if you already have them to inform the rest of your prediction.
Ask For The Money
Yes, that is a slide in the presentation deck above, but business owners occasionally neglect to request funding. It’s crucial to be able to articulate how the money will be used when you inquire. You must account for an infusion of cash in your comprehensive financial projections.
Update Your Deck Regularly
Raising money requires time. Before receiving an investment, you’ll probably have to make many, many pitches for your business. According to lore, Pandora made pitches to more than 300 VC companies before receiving funding.
Make sure to maintain your deck updated with your most recent advancements, roadmaps, and so on if you’re pitching to raise money while building your business. There is nothing worse than showing prospective investors an outdated deck.
Send Your Deck As A PDF
Almost usually, you’ll be requested to email your slides to investors beforehand or to leave a copy behind. Avoid sending Powerpoint or Keynote files if this occurs. Send a PDF in its place. This ensures that the fonts and styles you picked for the deck will be visible to anybody who views it.
Make Sure Your Presentation Is Not Necessary To Use Your Deck.
Even while presenting your pitch deck will always be preferable, it should ideally be able to communicate portion of your tale without you present. After your presentation, investors might want to go at the deck again, so it must have enough information to function as a stand-alone communication tool.
Documents To Have Prepared After You Pitch To Investors
Making your pitch deck is just the beginning of the business planning process. After a fruitful investor pitch, you should provide the appropriate planning paperwork to back up your presentation. Only a handful of the papers you should have ready to submit after your pitch are listed below.
An executive summary is a two- to three-page overview of your company, often known as a summary note. Investors might use it to present a summary of your company to their partners and other employees at your company. What is on your pitch deck should be covered in your executive summary but in written form.
You could be asked to offer more information about your technologies if you are founding a tech or medical firm. More thorough documentation, diagrams, processes, and other supporting materials may be necessary since investors in these kinds of businesses frequently want to have one of their technical experts verify your claims.
Comprehensive Financial Models
Any investor who is really considering investing in your company will need to see thorough financial predictions for the next three years at the very least so they can understand the underlying assumptions that underlie your forecasts.
Investors will be interested in learning more about your plans for employing more employees and paying related charges, as well as for R&D, production, marketing, and other costs. Be prepared to offer a thorough prognosis for your sales, profit and loss, and cash flow. Also frequently needed is a balance sheet. Use visuals to graphically convey your data whenever feasible. It has been shown to be more efficient.
Comprehensive Market Research
More information about your target market and your prior market research may be requested of you. Although that’s not always the case, it’s a good idea to be prepared to offer the information in some manner if you have it. Once more, this information shouldn’t be included in your original pitch deck but should be available if necessary.
Create Your Pitch Deck Now
Our Elevator Pitch Guide contains a ton of extra tips. You’ll discover all the tools you need to refine your pitch as well as learn how to execute an effective elevator speech.
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