Serial Entrepreneur | Founder of bonapp.eco | Philanthropist | Chief Dad Officer.
Having a strong and engaging pitch deck is essential. For a startup looking for investors, it’s like having a dating profile: Your pitch deck is the very first picture investors will get of your team and the business. And in business, first impressions do matter—a lot.
I have been an entrepreneur for 15 years, and for half of that time, I have also been an angel investor. I want to share my humble experience from both sides on what I think makes a great pitch deck.
Creating A Strong Pitch Deck
Be focused. Your goal with a pitch deck is to present your solution and convince investors your startup has a good chance of meeting customers’ needs and scaling.
Be short. Think 12 to 15 slides, not more. A pitch deck is not a full business analysis. It’s an amuse-bouche. You will have plenty of time to go into detail during the review of the business plan and the due diligence stages, which come later.
Use the power of storytelling. Remember that people love stories, and, in this case, investors want beautiful ones told with passion and conviction—backed by facts and figures.
Be confident and positive. Always end your pitch deck presentation on a high, bold and memorable note.
Do not reinvent the wheel. Angel investors and venture capitalists see many pitch decks. To grab their attention, do not reinvent the wheel. I recommend following a standard, 12-slide structure for your pitch deck.
Building Your Pitch Deck
Slide No. 1: Introduce the team. I always recommend the first slide of a pitch deck to be the one presenting the team because the team is a startup’s asset. In my experience, this often matters the most to any investor. Painting a perfect picture of your founding team is not the goal here. Do keep in mind, however, that investors want to see if the team members are strong, reliable and have the right expertise. In addition, it is important to show that the founders’ skills are complementary.
Slide No. 2: Reveal a painful problem. With no problem to solve, there is no startup. If your company does not solve an issue, it will not survive. The “problem” slide is about describing an issue or challenge. Usually, the bigger the issue, the bigger the solution. Describing this issue should sound like a drill or alert, as this can help get the investors interested in hearing about your solution.
Slide No. 3: Disclose your solution. Now, it is time to reveal your solution. Even if there are similar solutions already out there, explain how yours is different. Summarize your solution in one to two slides.
Slide No. 4: Expose the market potential. At this point, you described the “what” and the “how.” Now, it’s time to reveal the “where.” The potential market size is important to investors because they want to know right away the scalability opportunities—locally, regionally and internationally.
Slide No. 5: Use your 15 seconds of fame. If you have a product demo, then this is the right moment to continue stirring up curiosity and display the value proposition for the user. Photos are good, but I’ve found a short, one-minute video is even better.
Slide No. 6: Explain your business model. This is another important aspect of your pitch. Explain to investors how you plan to monetize your idea.
Slide No. 7: Share your go-to-market strategy. Explain how you envision the customer’s journey and what your marketing funnel looks like. Give examples of how you draw awareness, captivate interest and seal the deal.
Slide No. 8: Offer a competitive analysis. You should also show that you are aware of the competition. Present what they are doing and what you do differently or better than them. Show that you have a clear understanding of what your competitors do, what their plans are and what their threats and weaknesses are while focusing on your strengths and opportunities.
Slide No. 9: Give a timeline. This is the perfect time to do an overview of what you have achieved so far. You should then present what the next steps are, why you need funds and how you plan to expand. If you already have client reviews, use them.
Slide No. 10: Present your financial projections. Present a projection of your financial plan for the following 24 to 36 months. Explain what key performance indicators you will be implementing (e.g., customer numbers, conversion rates, etc.). Show you did your homework, and have a good answer to any question that might arise.
Slide No. 11: Specify the funds you aim to raise. On this slide, specify how much money you plan to raise and what your company valuation is. Here, I recommend mentioning the current valuation (the “pre-revenue” valuation) and the “post-revenue” valuation (which equals the pre-money valuation plus the money you will raise).
Slide No. 12: Explain how you’ll use the funds. Specify the areas of investment of the funds you will raise. Detail how you will split the money by category—such as technology, sales, marketing and operations—as well as other investment areas that depend on your type of business.
Keep in mind that the best pitch decks are simple and easy to understand, hence the importance of preparing yourself. Do not reinvent the wheel. Remember: Pitch decks are a great tool to execute your vision, not a colorful pompom to distract attention from what is missing. With a clear view of the problem you solve, how your solution works and when to expect their slice of cake back, investors will be more encouraged to take action.
Finally, yet importantly, be humble. Investors do not like a braggart. You might well believe that your solution is fantastic, but let’s not forget that the world of startups is highly competitive, so always be modest and careful. Never be arrogant or condescending. Good luck.