Pitch decks are commonly used in the start-up world and for good reason. They present information to investors about the business proposition clearly and concisely. However, creating a good pitch deck can be challenging. There are so many elements to consider when making your pitch deck successful.
In this blog post, we've summarised the 7 essential elements to create a winning pitch deck. Following these top tips will help you give investors the confidence they need to invest in your business!
What do investors look for in a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a presentation that provides an overview of your company to prospective investors. Pitch decks need to be brief. Investors typically spend less than three minutes reading your pitch deck so try to make it stand out. If you listen to investors, the overwhelming feedback is that pitch decks are too long. Nick Telson from Horseplay Ventures regularly publishes his pitch deck insights to help founders. The average length of a pitch deck is 18 slides but you should be able to make your investment pitch in 8-10 slides. The deck must give a clear view of what your business is and what problem you solve. Your aim is to give investors all the information they need to make a decision on whether or not they will invest in your company.
There is a wealth of information and analysis from investors providing feedback on what works and what doesn’t. At GrowthBuilders we love this Founder’s use of pictures and diagrams to tell the company’s story visually rather than using hundreds of words. This blog provides a great analysis of the deck TransferWise used to secure $1.3m of funding to catapult their growth. We encourage all Founders to do their research before launching into writing, take advantage of all the feedback other Founders have received before you.
7 essential components of a high-quality pitch deck:
1) Strong storytelling ability
It's crucial to communicate what your company does and what problem it solves in a concise way. You need to outline what the world is like for your prospective customers now and show investors what the future looks like. How will you disrupt the status quo? Be descriptive, use examples of recent pilots and customer testimonials. Remember that a good pitch deck is short so get to the point quickly and avoid jargon.
2) Emphasise the problems you're solving
You need to clearly show what problem your business solves. It's important to understand what the pain points are for your target customer, what solution they're looking for and why they can't live without it.
Try and be as specific as possible rather than saying things take a long time or cost money. Validate your comments with customer feedback or industry awards.
3) Explain your solution clearly using exciting product shots
Investors will want to know what kind of product or service your business offers, what its key features are and what makes it unique. Demonstrate what you've done before, what accolades or achievements can you refer to? Use product shots, videos and prototypes to excite a potential investor and bring your product to life.
Pitch decks can get very stale if there is no captivating imagery. Consider the media you will use to deliver the pitch deck. The vast majority of Founders still use Microsoft Powerpoint for their pitch decks as it is easy to use and can provide a good standard of presentation. But can you do something different to make your product and pitch stand out? Would a video pitch be more relevant to your brand?
4) Outline your target addressable market
The next thing you need to do is describe your customer base. Make it clear how big the market is and what your business's share of that market will be at each stage of growth. Support these statements with clear financial projections and sales targets. Validate your projections with current pipeline metrics to demonstrate that what you say is achievable. Investors will want to know that you understand your sales journey and that you measure your team's performance at every stage.
You may also want to explain how your offer can evolve to target a new customer base. This will demonstrate longevity but be careful not to get too carried away as investors will be looking for a short investment payback period.
5) Validate your business model with existing traction and metrics
Emphasise what the business has managed to achieve in terms of traction and what metrics you track as a team. For instance, tell them how much annual recurring revenue (ARR) you've secured, how much you spend acquiring clients (CAC), what your cash runway is and how much you're spending on product development.
Investors will want to know that you understand the key performance indicators for your product and your market. They will want to see that you track these indicators and that you assess your performance against your competitors regularly. They won't invest if there is a lack of credibility in what you're saying or if they don't think the money will be well managed.
6) Set clear company milestones and your go-to-market strategy
It's vital to give investors a clear idea of what your company looks like now, what it will look like in the next three-six months and what it will look like in the future. By showing them what their money will be used for, you give them confidence that you are planning to grow efficiently and effectively.
If the majority of the money will be spent on people then set out your people plan. Include the key skills you need to drive the business forward and how you will secure them. Show how the company structure will evolve over time and show how you will incentivise and retain key talent in the business. Investors will want to know who you will bring into the team and how this might dilute their investment over time.
Your pitch deck needs to include your real-world growth plans and what strategies you'll use to drive new customers into your business. The more actionable and specific these plans are, the better.
7) Outline your competitive landscape and Unique Selling Point (USP)
Finally, you need to show a strong understanding of who your competitors are, what their strengths are and what makes your solution unique. Explain what makes you and your team different, what skills and expertise does your team have that makes them able to compete with, probably, much larger and more well-funded organisations?
Throughout the process, remember your audience and what you are trying to achieve. Stay true to your product and your brand. Bring it to life in an engaging way so your pitch is more memorable than any of the other decks that the investor receives that day. Have a strong message so the investor is clear what you are asking for.
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