When trying to get investors interested in your business, your pitch deck is your first impression. It’s the bait on the hook, and you need them to bite.
Create a Pitch Deck That Will Catch the Big Fish
Angel investors and venture capitalists are always looking for the next big thing. Entrepreneurs are looking for the biggest fish they can catch in the sea of investors. Do they find each other? Those looking for investors bait their hooks when they prepare a killer pitch deck, and they wait to see if investors will bite. Investors watch hundreds of presentations and choose the ones that strike a chord with them.
What makes them take the bait? It’s different for each one, but there are some general things that make a potential business stand out among the rest. We know the secrets to making your pitch deck pop, so that you can get the funds you need to start and grow your business.
What is a Pitch Deck?
While the pitch deck won’t seal the deal immediately, it is the first step that gets you in the door. This is the first impression investors get of your business, and you want to make it sizzle. What is it though? It’s a fancy word for a PowerPoint presentation designed to convince investors they need in on the action. In short, it makes them want to bite.
A quick search will turn up a ton of pitch deck examples that can give you some ideas.
What is the Goal of a Pitch Deck?
The final, ultimate goal is to get your business funded. But the immediate goal of the pitch deck is to get you to the next meeting. Investment decisions are rarely made after the first meeting. A pitch deck can get them interested, but there is much more that goes into an actual investment decision than interest.
That said, if you don’t wow them, you won’t even get that far. A presentation that hooks them and reels them in is the first step.
What Is Included in the Best Pitch Decks?
Creative leeway does exist, but there is some general information that is included in all the best pitch decks.
Prepare a Pitch Deck: Company Overview
This is one of our number one secrets for creating a pitch deck. Not everyone will recommend this slide, but we believe it is essential for a couple of reasons.
This slide is a quick four or five bullet point summary of what the rest of the pitch deck explains in detail. What the company is, what you do, how you do it, why you need to do it, etc. This is important because, as the first slide after the cover, it will help investors decide whether they want to keep going.
It gives them a taste of the entrée and makes them want more. It’s just a sample, but one designed to whet their appetite and encourage them to devour the rest of the presentation. In addition, if you happen to catch them when they do not have a lot of time, this slide ensures that if they are not able to move on or finish, they get all the information they really need right at the beginning. This may allow them to determine they want to meet you in person and discuss things further, despite not being able to finish viewing all the slides.
Mission Statement or Vision for the Business
This is a crisp, concise statement of what the vision or mission of the business is. It could be what you want to become or what you intend to be. Some examples of mission statements from companies you may be familiar with include:
- Warby Parker-To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
- Honest Tea– To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
- Ikea– To create a better everyday life for the many people.
- Nordstrom– To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.
Don’t let this one trip you up. A strong mission statement is the backbone of your presentation and an essential part of a pitch deck.
This is where you introduce yourself and your team to potential investors. Don’t skip this part. It should not only include names, but also what each person contributes to the company. There should be pictures as well. Investors need to see who they are investing in. It really does make a difference.
The Need for a Business Like Yours
This is the “problem” slide. For a business to work, it needs to provide a solution to a problem. This is where you explain what that problem is that your business plans to solve. What need will your business fill?
How Your Business Will Solve the Problem
This is the “solution” slide. Right after you state the problem, you need to tell them what the solution to the problem is, and how your business will provide it. Go into details about statistics and how your product or service will actually make a different.
Did you create a new algorithm or patent some new technology? This is where you make that known.
What is Your Product?
This is where you introduce your specific product or service and explain how it solves the problem. What make it different from what is already out there? How will it the job done? It is best to have a prototype available, but if you cannot, then pictures are a must. If the product is still in development, use drawings.
Of course, if what you offer is a service it will be a little trickier. Do what you can to offer an example of what it is you offer and how it works. Diagrams, charts, screenshots if it is an online service, or whatever else you can come up with.
Is There a Market for It?
This is the “market” slide. It needs to do a few things. First, you should use this slide to define your market. Who exactly is it that will be using your product? Who is it that will benefit from your business? What is the dollar market size?
Include graphs and charts that show how your company will be reaching the defined market.
You Already Have Customers?
If you are a business that has early customers, this is a slide that can be very powerful. For example, if you are offering a food or beverage product and some local grocers are already selling it in their stores, you would say so here.
If you are looking at pitch deck examples, you will likely find that this slide has a simple heading, something like “customers.” Rather than a list, it will usually contain recognizable logos of well known customers.
Of course, if your customers aren’t so well-known, or they are individuals, then names and testimonies can work as well.
Want an Explosive Pitch Deck? Drop the Technology Bomb
If you are creating a pitch deck and want to blow their socks off, this is key. Major proprietary technology grabs attention, and this is where you drop that bomb. Make it a bang that counts. If it is still in development, use diagrams, graphs, and photographs to show the progress. If you have it completed, bring an example.
Be sure to include any proprietary rights such as patents and copyrights.
How to Handle Competition in a Pitch Deck
Do not ignore or underestimate your competition. There should be a “competition” slide that lays it all out here. It should address the following questions:
- Who are your competitors in the market?
- How is your business different?
- What gives your business a competitive advantage?
In addition to answering these questions when you prepare a pitch deck, be certain to research competitors thoroughly. You have to be able to answer questions about competition from potential investors. If you cannot answer the questions knowledgeably, it is possible they will conclude you actually do not adequately understand your market.
This is sometimes called a “traction” slide. If you have good stuff to put here, it can make a lasting impression. Using the fishing bait analogy, a great traction slide can make a worm look much juicier. Include any of these that may apply.
- Early sales
- Website traffic
- App downloads
- Growth metrics
- Praise from the press
If you have any of these things available to report, do so.
Business Model Explanation
Investors need to understand your business model. This slide is where you explain how the business makes money, if and how a customer retains value long-term, and what your pricing plan looks like.
How Will You Get the Word Out?
This is where you outline your marketing plan. Investors want to know how you are going to get the word out. You will need to define what marketing platforms and channels you intend to use, such as television, radio, social media, prints, etc.
If you have already used some of these channels, what have the results been like. Have you seen more success with one than the others? What is the cost to acquire a customer at this preliminary point? Compare and contrast that cost with the estimated lifetime value of a customer.
Has the business had any early press? You could list that here if you do not include a “traction” slide.
Prepare a Pitch Deck: Set the Hook With the Financials
When you are fishing and you get a bite, you have to give a solid jerk at just the right moment to set the hook. If not, you could lose the catch as you try to reel it in. This is especially true of a really big fish. You have to set the hook to ensure you won’t lose it before you get it to the boat.
Investors may love your business idea and be all about how it will work, but without the financials to show the business will be profitable over time, it will not matter. In general, they will want to see the following:
- Three- to five-year financial projections- this is basically a guess based on current numbers and trends as to how the company will do financially over the next 3 to 5 years.
- Unit economics
- Burn rate- how much money the company will lose, and how quickly, in the startup phase.
- Annual recurring revenue
- Total revenue and expenses
- Complete current financials if available and applicable.
- Key assumptions used to determine projections.
Prepare a Pitch Deck: Reel Them In With a Pitch Deck They Can’t Resist
Near the end of the slides should be a slide titled something like “The Ask.” This is where you tell potential investors exactly what you are looking for. So how much money you are trying to raise? You can use a range. It does not have to be a specific dollar amount. You will also need to tell them how long you think that amount of financing will last, and what milestones you think you will be able to reach with that funding.
You also need to detail how you plan to use the funds. Will you use them as working capital, for product development, or to hire new employee? This is where you show investors how their money will go to work for the business.
If you already have existing investors, reveal that at this time, being sure highlight any that may be well-known.
Investment Fishing Tips
Now that you know what you need for the bait, we have a few tips to help ensure you catch the big one.
Make it Visually Interesting
Use interesting fonts, mix up letter sizes, and add pictures. Utilize color and design to make your presentation pleasing to the eye. Keep in mind however, that it should maintain and air of professionalism. But there is a fine line between interesting and gaudy. Hence you may need to recruit a professional designer to prepare your pitch deck PowerPoint slides for you.
If you do take it on yourself, be sure it is appealing and professional. In addition, make certain the font and design are consistent from slide to slide.
Take a look at some of these pitch deck examples to get inspiration for making your pitch deck fabulous.
Make it Easy
Send the presentation in PDF format to prospective investors. Do not make them use a DropBox or Google Docs link. That is an extra step that they may not mind, but why take the risk? Just make it easy.
Keep it Short and Sweet
It really shouldn’t be more than 15 to 20 slides. After that, you may begin to lose their attention. You can always add more when you meet in person or add an appendix. Along these same lines, do not get too wordy on the slides. They will not read pages and pages, they want to be able to skim and get the information they need to make a decision as quickly as possible. Concise, sharp bullet points are best.
Don’t Add a Date
So there is really no need for it, and if you forget to change it will look bad. This is especially true if you have been at it for a while. Investors will know how long you have been trying to raise funds.
Don’t Underestimate the Competition
And give the competition their due. So take them seriously. Don’t trash talk or belittle them. Just do your research, understand them, and know how your product can gain the advantage.
Keep Acronyms to a Minimum
So you do not want potential investors to have to think too hard to understand what you are talking about. Too many acronyms they may or may not understand can form a barrier than is not helpful.
You Can Prepare a Pitch Deck that Will Help You Catch the Big Fish
Hence if you need angel investors or venture capitalist on your side, the pitch deck is where you start. It may seem daunting at first, but if you spend the time necessary research and gather all of your information, you are halfway there. So make sure the information is organized, and that the whole thing looks professional and visually appealing. If you do this, you are sure to hook the best of the best and reel them in to enjoy the success of your business with you. Here is a great guide that can help you make your pitch deck a winner.