Why A Pitch Deck?
Your pitch deck is probably the most important document you will put together when fundraising for your startup or scaleup. On its own, it won’t get an angel or venture capitalist to invest in your company; there is a whole process of engagement and due diligence that they need to go through. However, it is almost certainly the first opportunity to create an impression, and serves as a valuable key to get you through the first round of filtering.
What Should Be In My Pitch?
We put together our own template of what should be in an investor presentation, based on our own experience and insights. Take a look, but remember, don’t feel you need to follow the template exactly. Use it as a guide to ensure you are covering all the important aspects of your investment proposition in the pitch deck. You can also take a look at some other resources which we really like:
- Capital Pilot // Pitch Deck Template
- Guy Kawasaki // The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch
- Boris Golden // What I Look For in a Startup Pitch
We look at a lot of pitch decks at Capital Pilot, and there are some common mistakes that founders make. Using the templates above can help you avoid these mistakes, so start with those as a checklist for completeness, but also bear in mind the following:
It’s too long, dense and wordy
Just like everyone else, investors have a short attention span and a lot of work to do. Your pitch deck isn’t the only one they are going to look at that day, that hour, or even that minute (maybe). If it is 50 slides long, 10 point font, and lacking images and diagrams to bring it to life, you are handicapping yourself. Remember, the key job of the presentation is to get you an in-person meeting. That’s when they’ll dive in deeper on the business. You don’t have to include every detail about your business — leave them wanting more!
It’s a product pitch, not an investor pitch
Often we see presentations which were originally designed as customer pitches with a slide added on the fundraising. You certainly need to demonstrate why your product/service is (or will be) a winner, but that’s only part of it. The key to your investment pitch deck is to explain why your business will be a winner for the investor. In other words, how will they make a big return on their investment. Having a great product/service alone isn’t going to raise you money. You also need to show that there is a great team, a winning revenue model, a big enough addressable market to make a large return, and a clear go-to-market strategy.
It’s riddled with technical jargon
You might be pitching to investors with sector experience, but in all likelihood you are going to be better versed on the technical detail than they are. Keep this in mind when you write your presentation. If it is full of arcane abbreviations and acronyms you will lose the reader. Enough with the ELPs, OMTMs, and PEBCAKs — speak in a language everyone can understand (not necessarily the language you speak) or you may lose your audience.
You’re selling too hard
Ambition is great. So is confidence. But don’t fall into the trap of over-selling. You also need to be realistic. You are raising funds for a reason – because your business model is incomplete. So be up-front about what resources you need – human, technical, financial – to be successful. Don’t try to pretend you have got everything already as you will quickly lose credibility.
Inconsistency and inaccuracy
You care whether or not you get funding, right? So make sure it comes across, and rid your pitch deck of typos. 50% of the presentations we review have typos and probably 25% of the financial models have errors. Inexcusable and avoidable. If spelling or grammar is not your forte, ask a friend or colleague to review your presentation for you.
Ensure that your words and numbers are consistent – that the assumptions and outputs in your financial model match the presentation. And the key test: does your presentation and model demonstrate that your business will be worth multiples of its current value during the lifetime of the investment? This is what the investor needs to see, and if your materials don’t show significant value growth you’re not going to get very far.
Mixing up sales, marketing and go-to-market strategy
They’re different things. If asked “how are you going to build your customer base?” the answer is not “digital marketing and social media”. Be clear on each element. What is/are your target customer base(s) and how will you prioritise? How will you raise awareness of your product or service in that arena? And what is the process by which you will contact and ultimately sell to customers in that arena?
Any Good Examples of Winning Pitches?
Attach.io put together an excellent database of pitch decks that helped well known startups raise over $400m, and Dice Studios has a collection of Powerpoint templates that you can use to make your pitch really stand out. Take a look: