One size does not fit all when it comes to a pitch deck. The best way to get started with creating a pitch deck is assessing your audience. They are one of the most important factors to consider. Start by asking yourself how familiar is your audience with your market? If they’re industry investors, you shouldn’t spend time educating them about the market opportunity and the pain points that your product is solving.
What kinds of businesses are they looking at? What model/criteria/triggers do they use to judge whether a project will be successful or not? If you don’t have some sense of their points of view, your likelihood of making the pitch go well is more random. You may happen to emphasize the right points that pique an investor’s interest, but you shouldn’t leave your financing up to chance.
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn Co-Founder
Secondly, how will you deliver this pitch deck? A document that is being emailed to an investor will “read” very differently from one that is presented to the same investor in a one-on-one meeting. Likewise, a deck used to present to a big room in a “one way presentation” will play very differently from a presentation to a room full of VCs.
Having said that, a good pitch deck should cover each of the following areas, in varying detail depending on your audience and your presentation setting:
- The problem/pain
- Market Opportunity
- Business Model
- Marketing Strategy
- Call to action
Let’s go through each of these steps:
Lay out what your vision for the product is. Start with answering the key question “What problem does your product/service solve and for whom?” The pain point that you’re trying to solve needs to be clear and simple to understand, meaning it has to be a real problem.
What is your unique solution to this problem? Talk about your product or service and the value that it will bring to your customers.
If you are just starting to build an “Uber for X or AirBnB for Y” you are 3 years too late.
If you are replicating a business model that already has significant funding, Pets, Food Delivery, Uber for X, IOT, Parking, Jobs and you don’t have something highly proprietary/competitive that solves their problems forget it.
Which brings us to the next essential factor - your market. Show that you know you target market by using accurate, real data. Demonstrate how your product/service will fit into this market space.
This also means talking about your competitors and what will differentiate your business. Another key point to address here is market timing, believed to be one of the biggest reasons why startups succeed. Why is now the right time to launch your business?
How do you intend to generate revenue from your business? Are you building a marketplace or a software-as-a-service? What's your pricing strategy? Orange County Founder Institute Director Henri Duong outlines the essentials of revenue models for aspiring founders in his Startup Guide to Revenue Models, check it out here.
Talk about the average account size and lifetime value of your customers. Having a sales and distribution model can also be helpful, as is a customer pipeline list.
Probably one of the biggest challenges of any startup - traction. Describe what stage your company is at, what you've achieved so far, how many clients you already have and where you want to be in the nearest future.
If you have traction you can get away with anything. Crappy looking business plan, no idea how to make money, team with no track record, all can be forgiven in the presence of a user base who has adopted the product and is really using it, paying users are even better.
Validate your startup by showing it solves a genuine problem that your market has. Back it up with numbers.
Talk about the marketing strategy and growth plan that's going to bring you (more) clients. Your product/service has to have distribution baked into it from the beginning.
Although spending on marketing might not seem like a priority, your idea needs momentum. And that’s brought on by a holistic approach to marketing and distribution.
Address key indicators such as:
- Cash and Burn
- Cap-Table Breakdown
- Current Use of Funds
- CAC Breakdown
- Realistic projections for the next 6–12 months
Include what you intend to do with the proceeds and how you plan to maximize this investment. A risk analysis and a mitigation strategy can also come in handy at this point.
Who are you and what makes you and your team the right people to bring this idea to life?
Talk about your story and your experience. If you're on your own, it’s important that you at least have a team of advisors to guide you.
Call to action
How much money do you want them to give you? Ask for it. The key to effective communication is communicating.
You can reiterate the use of funds here as well if you feel like the conversation requires it.
One thing you should keep in mind is that the best pitch decks don't feel like they were created for the benefit of investors or venture capitalists. They feel like an outgrowth of the work you’re already doing. Don’t use your deck to ask permission to start your business, use it to show how you’re going to create a successful company.
If a pitch deck can stand alone, you're on your way to secure those funds you need. So start writing, make it clear, design it for your audience and get feedback from as many people as you can.
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Learn how you can create a successful pitch guide that will convince investors and VCs.