07 Sep Anatomy of a pitch deck: Your guide to investor presentations
Your pitch deck could mean the difference between winning over investors and walking home empty-handed. Your presentation needs to tell a story about who you are and why investors should care about what you do. You need to be able to explain your concept, business model, and more in such a short time frame, all while somehow managing to make people excited. When so much is on the line, where do you even start?
Meeting with investors is tough, but with a high-quality pitch deck on hand, you’ll be one giant step closer to making the right impression.
Keep it simple
Your job is to help investors to understand your vision, and get them excited to hear more. You don’t have much time for filler, and neither do your investors. Draw attention to the most important parts of your message with simple and straightforward language. Then, design work can do wonders to clarify and support your message.
Engagement is everything
The success of your pitch depends on the quality of the story you tell. Compelling decks are visual, straightforward, and tell a story that engages your potential investors. Think of it as a narrative instead of your standard presentation. A pitch deck can take your audience on a journey with you, and developing a solid structure is the first step.
Anatomy of a pitch deck
1. The attention-grabber
Think of the beginning of your sales pitch as the first act in a play. Your job is to grab your audience’s attention and help them get a sense of the setting. You’ll take care of that with the following slides.
2. Your vision
What’s the problem? This is your opportunity to set the scene and prove your startup’s real-world relevance. Think of this slide as your version of an elevator-pitch. You have to make sure the investor understands the pain point you’re resolving and help them empathize with it. And remember: You’re not diving into details at this point. Paint a picture and give your audience just enough intriguing information to want more.
3. Your solution
Who are you, and why do you matter? Now that your investors understand the setting, explain (or even better: show) the value of what you offer. Focus on benefits instead of features to clarify why someone would want to change their existing habits to purchase from you. At this point, a seasoned investor can already tell if you have the potential to be a game-changer.
4. Relevant traction
You’ve talked a big talk so far. This is where you start to prove it. How successful have you been so far? Incorporate testimonials, milestones, relevant press attention, or partnerships to grab attention and show the audience that interest already exists. This still isn’t the point where you delve into details and data. Drop some enticing, high-level information that supports your relevance, and keep things moving.
5. Supporting details
By now, you’ve piqued their interest. Now’s your chance to elaborate on the situation and prove why your team is the best to get things done. After the following slides, investors should believe in your startup practically and aspirationally.
6. Market opportunity
Give your investors an idea of the space you’re in. Use the most similar companies as a starting point and make sure you use credible sources for your research. Investors want to know the size of your market opportunity.
7. Business model
How will you make money? Investors ultimately want to make money within a reasonable timeframe, so you need to show that you have a viable business model and growth strategy. Show your audience what the next 3 to 5 years would reasonably look like for your business. This is all about setting manageable expectations.
Everyone has competitors. Don’t fall into the trap of saying otherwise. Even if your startup is one-of-a-kind, who’s to say that an industry giant won’t poach your idea. You need to paint a realistic picture of where your startup exists in the market and how you’ll be able to differentiate.
9. Marketing plan
Your customer base isn’t going to build itself. Investors need to see that you put some thought into acquiring customers, and the money it costs to get them. What’s your strategy for getting your brilliant idea in front of the people who will want it? You’ll need to figure out how you’ll stand out from the crowd.
10. Your brilliant team
What makes your team the best for the job? Be sure to highlight your core team and the skills you all bring to the table. The success of your idea will all come down to execution, so be sure to emphasize relevant experience and accomplishments.
11. What you really want
For your final act, you need to get to the point. You’ve spent your sales pitch building excitement about your idea and confidence in your team, so now is the time to get ready to ask and present a counteroffer. Why are you here? Do you need capital? Expertise? You need to have a clear understanding of what your company’s needs are. This is where you drive things home. Be clear about what you’re looking for, explain your valuation, and be prepared to discuss counter offers.
Put it all together
Raising money is hard enough, but a great pitch deck will help you tell a compelling story about your company. Once you have your structure down, storytelling will help you grab attention and the whole narrative to life. With a carefully crafted story and design work, you’ll be on your way to catching the eye of those investors.
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