What Makes A Compelling Pitch Deck?

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 2.49.42 PMA few weeks ago I posted some thoughts on Q’s I think you should be prepared to answer when raising your first round of capital. I thought it might be helpful if I shared inputs on what you might want to include in your pitch deck.

I’ve seen several thousand pitches at this point as an investor. When raising seed capital, your first meeting is your most important. Most investors will know within 20-30 minutes if your idea is something they’re excited to pursue. Creating a compelling deck is relatively straight forward if you have a great vision and team. Before we dig into what your deck should cover, let’s talk about two small things I highly recommend you do to get a more focused/ engaged investor during your pitch:

  • Build trust and establish a rapport quickly. Typically, your first meeting with an investor will be a 1 on 1 pitch. It’s easier than ever to know background details of the person you’re pitching and find something you have in common (school, entrepreneurs, etc) – it’s a proven ice breaker. Another trick I learned from about.me co-founder Tim Young is to avoid projecting your pitch and use your laptop screen to walk through the slides which creates a more comfortable and relaxed environment.
  • Establish a time-frame for your pitch. Investors are notoriously a bit A.D.D. and love it when Founders state up front that they’ve got a short deck of 5-6 slides, needing about 20 minutes to cover the introductory material. our deck needs to be crisp and avoid unnecessary slides. Your deck should reinforce this point by numbering each of your slides, 1 of 6, 2 of 6, etc. 

Now to the deck. Most initial meetings last 30 – 45 minutes. You want to make sure you have enough time at the end of your pitch to dig into the investors input as well as better understand what’s important to them when making an investment. A good pitch deck should be crisp and complete, thorough enough that it conveys the big vision and current traction.  You should be able to accomplish this in these 5 recommended slides:

Cover Slide – Company Logo, Meeting Date and Name of the Investor you’re pitching. Use a beautiful full screen picture that captures your idea. Since you’ll likely be in the room early, have this slide displayed when the investor walks in – it’s your first impression. 

Slide 1 – Team & Company Snapshot: I think this is one of the two most important slides in your pitch deck. This slide should include the amount of capital you’re raising and the date you founded the company. Bring your team to life by Including pictures of all the key people currently involved including Founders, Team Members, Investors & Advisors. As mentioned last week, if you can effectively sell the investor on why you, your team, investors & advisors are uniquely qualified to solve the problem you’re tackling, they’ll begin to lean in and give you a fair listen. 

Slide 2 Numbers & Traction to Date: Share early performance data if your product/ service is live. If you’re pre-launch, no problem, include development milestones, user test data, anything that might demonstrate momentum. Also include # of Twitter, Instagram, etc, followers.

Slide 3Vision & Market Opportunity: This is the other most important slide in your deck, it’s your opportunity to tell investors about the future of your space and how it will evolve. Investors love patterns and if you can create a narrative that shows how your vision has happened in other categories, you’ll have a better shot at moving the investor from skeptical to believer.  

Slide 4Product Demo: This is your shot to demonstrate how your product/ service is addressing the market opportunity. If you don’t have a working product, you still need to show visuals of what you’re building. Hand drawn images are totally fine if you don’t have visuals developed. You should rehearse your demo 25+ times until it flows naturally. 

Slide 5 – Go-to-Market Strategy:  You want to clearly demonstrate the fact that you have thought about how to roll out your product and how to capture market share. 

Other Slides – if you feel like you need additional backup, and you likely will, include those slides in the appendix. 

The last thing that you’ll want to think about in pulling together your deck is the tone that you want to convey.  Be engaging and try to avoid a dry, mind-numbing presentation.  At the end of the day, great content makes a great deck.  But if you can sprinkle in some creativity and personality on top of great content, then you have a winning combination.

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