A not so long time ago, in a galaxy not far away at all, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Uber and other well-known tech companies were struggling startups trying to get funding. The founders had amazing ideas and hoped their solutions would be huge successes. But they needed money to grow. They needed a way to pitch their idea to venture capitalists in order to get them to invest. They needed…the perfect pitch deck.
A pitch deck is simply a PowerPoint presentation that explains a startup company’s business plan to a group of potential investors. Facebook’s original pitch deck was only 7 pages long and was filled with typos and bad graphics. However, it contained the right information and was presented in such a way that investors hoped it would become the juggernaut that it is today.
While there is no magic formula when it comes to overall pitch deck design, there are a few best practices you can certainly follow. Here are 5 tips that will help you create a pitch deck that will impress your audience and hopefully get you the funding you’ll need to become the next great success story.
Tip #1: Keep it short.
Mark Twain said, "It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog." Consider that quote when creating your pitch deck.
Investors don’t dole out money because of elaborately long PowerPoint presentations. They invest because of the idea and the "size of the fight" in a company and its founders.
As mentioned previously, Facebook’s original pitch deck was only seven pages. YouTube’s was fifteen. What made them so successful in securing funding was the fact that they clearly stated how they solved an everyday problem in a unique way that nobody had ever done before.
Try to limit your presentation to 20 slides or less and remember not to focus on the size of your pitch deck. Focus on the size of the "fight" in your "dog."
Tip #2: Cover the basics.
A successful pitch deck must cover the following themes: your business model, a competitive analysis, information about your team, and financials.
The business model slide is basically your elevator pitch. It should clearly define the problem you solve, how you solve it, and your target audience. This is the slide you will use to talk about your mission and your vision.
It’s important to include a detailed competitive analysis to demonstrate your knowledge of the market. Define key players and state how your product is different than that of your competitors.
Dedicate at least one slide to introducing your team. Talk about their background, relevant technical experience, their role in your organization and whether or not they’ve been involved in other successful launches.
Your financial slides should include everything about your current cash flow, including cash-on-hand, burn rate, income/expenses, key metrics and 3 to 5-year projections.
Tip #3: Provide proof.
This is the section of the pitch deck where you get to brag. And you should brag.
Brag about the number of users, downloads and social media followers. Show and provide links to any press or customer reviews. Give a detailed analysis of website traffic and engagement.
The more you can prove to investors that your audience is already excited about your product, the more of a chance you have at scoring significant funding.
Tip #4: Show them the money.
It is vitally important that you include an exit strategy slide in your presentation.
Investors are most interested in how your idea will make money for them down the road when your company reaches the point of IPO or has the potential to be bought by a larger organization.
The bulk of a company’s value is obtained at exit, so demonstrate to investors how you plan to grow the company, potential companies that may be interested in buying you out in the future, and what your ultimate idea of success will be.
Tip #5: Encourage Q&A
Your last slide should basically be one word: Questions?
Remember that the entire point of your pitch deck is to give a clear and creative overview of your idea in order to generate interest from investors. Leave your pitch deck with investors wanting more.
You should make it a point to focus not only on the quality of the pitch deck itself, but on the overall impact of your presentation. Prep for your meeting with investors the same way you would prep for an important job interview or if you were being grilled by congress. (Sorry, Zuckerberg.)
End your pitch deck on a high note and encourage more conversation. Engage with your potential investors one-on-one and prove to them that you are prepared, professional and passionate about your idea. Chances are, they’ll be passionate about it too.
In conclusion, not all pitch decks are created equal and there is no perfect formula that will guarantee funding. Your job is to be fully prepared, give the best possible presentation, and communicate clearly how your startup will change the world. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so take the time to carefully craft your pitch deck. It could be just as important as your idea itself.