During a recent fundraising conversation, the startup Founder questioned…
“I wonder whether we could have managed to raise the money without the flashy deck?!”
Can you raise money without a pitch deck? Sure. Can you have a great investor meeting that is purely conversation? Absolutely. But it is important to separate the possible from the optimal. If you are the next Google and everyone knows that you are in the driver’s seat, you should certainly do as you please. But if you are one of the thousands and thousands of startups that merely want to have an optimal fundraising process, I highly recommend that you develop a killer pitch deck.
This got me thinking… What do I personally look for? What do I find impressive? And how much do I judge a business purely on its deck?!
Considering that VC’s spend on average 3mins and 44 seconds reading a pitch deck, you want to ensure your one stands out…
Startup founders are usually self-titled ‘innovators’, the new cool kids on the block, it is interesting to witness how many of these disruptive companies are surprisingly conservative and sometimes sloppy with their pitch deck. So how do you make an impact and not get it wrong?!
1) What’s the story in Balamory?
Make sure the presentation tells a story, your story. Bring the investor along on your journey to make them believe your vision and narrative. The purpose of a deck is to enable entrepreneurs to effectively tell the story of their business.
2) The only ten slides you need
Check out Guy Kawasaki’s ‘the only 10 slides you need in your pitch’. Most investors are prepared for this format, and when you go off-piste, they will try and direct you back to conformity with their questions. Just cater to them, they can be sheep… but at least you can prepare for 90% of potential questions about your business.
3) A sharp dichotomy
The world before us, the world after us. Show a substantial, practical impact, not just marginal improvements of the now.
4) Pitch deck Design
Personally, I’d pay the cash for a designer if you don’t have the skill set internally. It makes you look professional and is an immediate tick, rather than bringing doubt over the team’s execution ability. I’ll notice that unaligned text box…trust me!
5) Keep it simple
Pitch decks shouldn’t exceed 20 words per slide. Slides are scripts, and using visual guides can help. You don’t want an investor sitting there, reading the presentation and not focusing on what you are saying. Make the conversation interactive.
Now my friends/colleagues reading this will scoff, but make sure there are no typos in the text. Please… (Cue incoming feedback).
You will not find a single definition of “entrepreneur” that does not include the word “business”. Startups are businesses, and businesses run on numbers… complex commercials are difficult to explain in words, be comfortable to use charts, graphs or visuals.
Make sure you have prepared which member of the team is talking to which slides. Even if you do not think your colleague has explained a slide well, do not interrupt him/add-on. The same goes for questions, one team member takes the lead (i.e. in their ‘court’) and goes for the slam dunk.
9) Supplementary slides
Use an appendix for slides which do not fit into your story. The idea here is to anticipate questions and provide visual support for your answers.
Write-up your talk over notes either on the deck or in the powerpoint notes section. When the investor asks you the methodology behind how you got to that market size, you don’t want to stumble. Remembering everything off by heart is challenging to most in times of pressure. No one looks down on presentation notes; if anything you are considered well prepared…
Now after reviewing my own post checking for typos, I realised that I really should be finishing off my own story, so…as for the Founder I mentioned at the beginning … unfortunately, he’ll never know the outcome if he just turned up and tried his charm… Would it have got him the same £10m valuation result?! Would he have closed at all?! We’ll never know, but why take the risk, right?
Look forward to hearing from you!
If you’re lost, in a rush, and need something to get you started immediately, try this template from Crowdfunder.