funding: is your pitch deck worthy?
Startups and great ideas … they can make you rich. You may not get very far if you don’t get funding from investors though. And no company will get anyone on board without first pitching the idea. The pitch is crucial, and the pitch requires a deck.
A pitch deck is an excellent way to tell your brand story and get investors interested in what you have to offer. Some will say the pitch deck is the most important single document your company will ever create!
Crafting a successful pitch deck can be a challenging undertaking that takes a lot of time and effort. But if done right, you can raise the money you need.
There is no go-to pitch deck template. Each one should be different, according to who you’re pitching to. Researching a target investor is the first thing you should do when preparing a deck. From professional, to casual, and from older to younger, your deck needs to relate to who is on the other side of the presentation.
The most important thing you can do when creating a deck is to tell a good story. Your brand should already have its own story, and your deck should touch on who you are as a company. But a pitch deck needs its own separate journey. A journey that takes an investor from the introduction, to you asking for their money.
Another important aspect of a great pitch is how you present it. You are the presentation, not your deck slides. The deck is merely your sidekick. Each slide that you have on screen should be backing you up and not speaking for you. Loading slides with copy (especially if it’s the same exact thing that you’re saying) will be glossed over by the investor.
Finally, a presentation should be no longer than 20 minutes; and above all else, keep it simple. There’s no need to be complicated. Investors are smart, but you don’t need to wow them with extravagant information. You wow them with what their money will bring them in return.
There are many different ways to organize a deck. Here's one example:
Slide 1 – Company Intro and Mission – This is where you tell investors who is speaking to them, and what you stand for.
Slide 2 – Validation – This brief slide tells investors about your accomplishments, and proves to them that you’re successful and worthy of their time.
Slide 3 – The Problem – Investors want to know why you want their money. This is the first slide that touches on that. Something isn’t working, and this slide says why.
Slide 4 – Product/Service/Solution – Once the problem is recognized, there needs to be a solution. This is you. By this point investors should understand what you’re trying to sell them and why.
Slide 5 – Market Opportunity – This is the first slide where finance enters your story. You’ve told them why you need their money, now tell them what’s in it for them once they invest.
Slide 6 – Key Numbers/Traction – This slide is successful if you’ve already been in business for a while. You’ll present numbers to an investor here. This could be your sales, social proof, marketplace position, reviews, etc.
Slide 7 – Competition – There’s no reason to hide the truth, others more than likely do what you do. Paint this with a wide brush and don’t get too specific. And don’t insult your competition. Explain why you’re product or service will be more successful than the rest.
Slide 8 – Financials – This is your main financial slide. You break down exactly how you want to use their money, and exactly what it will do for you. More importantly, what it will do for the investor.
Slide 9 – Team – Hopefully by now they’re hooked and want in! So you introduce who’ll be working with their money. Talk up each team member and make them sound like the amazing people that they are.
Slide 10 – Marketing/Growth Strategy – This slide touches on the future. Do you see an IPO coming one day? What long-term goals do you have? How will you stay at the top of the market once you’re there? Investors want to trust you. This is where you earn that trust.
Slide 11 – The Ask – You have to ask for money or you won’t get it! It can’t be more simple than that.
Slide 12 – Conclusion – Finish strong! Make them want to work with you as soon as humanly possible. This is also the end of your story. If you’ve lead them on a great journey to this point, this is where you can close the deal.
As much as copy, the data you present, and the vocal presentation matter, design is equally as important in creating an enticing deck. As mentioned, a pitch deck is all about the story, and the stronger the design, the stronger the story. We are visual learners first and foremost, so the visual element of your pitch should not be ignored … it should be emphasized. You’ll want to use high-contrast design, bold colors, and larger font. You may be in a room where people in the back need to read everything. So make it pop!
Be careful not to go too overboard with style though. Remember, you’re pitching an idea and asking for money. So as wild and mind-blowing as your design is, all they really want to know is what will happen with their investment.
Some Interesting Data
A recent study showed that when it comes to pitch decks, the financial and team slides were viewed the most, and the longest, at 23.3 and 22.8 seconds each on average. As there is no official way to organize slides in a deck, you could move these up or down in your order depending if you want to front-load your presentation or not.
The problem and solution slides were viewed for the least length of time, at 11.3 and 10.6 seconds on average. Isn’t that interesting?
While it may seem wise to throw everything at an investor, it’s actually smart to leave a few questions unanswered. This gives them the opportunity to keep the dialogue going by asking you for more details, and keeps you from talking too much.
Creating a winning deck is not easy. Hooking them, both on paper, screen, and in person is going to take a lot of effort. This is not a commercial for your brand. Investors want to know what’s in it for them. You’re telling them a story, a story that will lead them to riches.