What exactly do startup entrepreneurs need to include in a pitch deck that leads to a successful fundraising round?
Throwing together a dozen slides with a couple of bullet points in exchange for landing millions of dollars in startup capital may not sound that challenging. Yet, with thousands of startups competing for capital and one shot at pitching and presenting to the investors that are the best match for your venture, it’s vital to get this asset right.
There are two main factors in acing the pitch deck challenge and crafting a document worthy of attention and substantial investment. The first is design. That is nailing the right number of slides and style. The second and most confusing and important, is what to include in your deck.
Not long ago I covered the pitch deck template that was created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here)
Don’t hit send or step up on stage unless you’ve incorporated these 15 items…
1) Your Company Information
This should include your logo and startup name, as well as your contact info so investors can follow up and set a meeting to write you a check. Don’t hide this information. You phone (ideally your cell number) and email should be big and easy to find.
2) The Concept
What is this? Show viewers what it is all about upfront so they know it is something they are interested in. Typically this could be included in the cover slide with a nice high resolution photo and a powerful tag line.
3) The Problem
What is the problem that your startup or service is solving? During the deck you need to bring together the what, why, why now (urgency) and why you have the team to accomplish it.
4) The Solution
How is your startup solving this problem? How is you company a part of the solution?
5) Market Size
Every single pitch deck should incorporate the size of the market and potential size of the opportunity. These are must have metrics. Think in billions and always add credible sources. This slide is really important as it will determine the potential outcome to investors that express interest.
6) The Competition
Every business has competition. If you don’t know who they are, there is a good chance you haven’t done adequate research. Pause everything and find out.
7) Competitive Advantages
What are your startup’s competitive advantages in the marketplace and over your competition? What’s unique? What can you do better that really matters to consumers or profitability?
8) The Product
What are the features and benefits? This is a great place to use images to show your product or service in action. Screenshots are smart if you have an online product or app.
You don’t have to be profitable or even have many paying customers to raise capital. Yet, the one thing every potential investor is going to want to know is what traction you have so far. What testing have you done? What is the feedback from user engagement? What is the trajectory of your growth?
10) Business Model
What is the basic business model for acquiring customers and generating revenues? Don’t get too bogged down here as strategies and tactics will change. Yet, investors want to see that you’ve really thought this through and have something that makes sense.
11) Basic Financial Forecast
The financials slide is one that investors will spend the most time on. It’s one of the three most important slides in your pitch deck, according to the data in this Forbes article. Key points include your burn rate, break even point and how many users you need to make a profit.
12) Other Investors
Who are your other current and previous investors? In early stage funding rounds investors are very encouraged by success in raising money from angel investors and even friends and family. It shows someone else believes in you and has put their money on the line. It serves as social proof. In later rounds, having some well known VCs on your deck can fast track funding and help in negotiating better terms.
13) Use of Funds
What are you going to do with the money? Spend it on rent or buy up customers and squeeze the competition out of business?
14) Who is Involved
Remember that investors are really investing in you, not the business or idea. Or they would just buy you out on the spot or recreate it for themselves. What makes you the entrepreneur or founding team to bet on driving a home run with this valuable solution? What is your industry and business experience? If you are weak in this area, include one or two key staff members who really round out and strengthen the team. Assemble a strong and well respected board of advisors who are sure to make this a success.
15) Thank You
This slide includes your contact information and perhaps some quotes from the press or other influencers where they say good things about your company.
If startup ventures are to have any chance of reaching their full potential and raising the capital they need on beneficial terms, they have to nail the pitch deck.
Design definitely matters. Yet, design only opens the door long enough to deliver the real meat and show the value.
Showing you have put in the effort to learn what information to include may be even more important than wowing angels and VCs with edgy strategies, test results, and a great looking product. Don’t pitch until you’ve incorporated this data in your deck.
Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and author of best-seller The Art of Startup Fundraising, a book that offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.