Time is limited when delivering your startup pitch to investors and venture capitalists. Both your time slot and the attention span of your audience only allow you 10-20 minutes to deliver your most crucial points, but that’s only if you first get their attention. To do this, you’ll need to simplify your thoughts and your product.
A pitch deck (also known as a slide deck), containing around 10 pages, will help you organize the presentation, as well as separate individual thoughts to help investors focus. We’ve provided key talking points to include in your pitch presentation and tips on how to properly approach them.
- Cover Information
An effective cover page is informative and memorable, yet concise. You want all necessary information to be visible on the front page if your deck is forwarded. The front page should include your logo, business name, tagline, and contact information. Your tagline should summarize your startup idea in a catchy, but short manner. Ideally, the tag line on your cover page will spark the investor’s memory of your product and prompt him/her to use the contact information provided directly below it.
Grab and keep the attention of investors by summarizing key information before diving in. If you don’t get your audience’s attention right off the bat, they’re even less likely to be paying attention when you’re 10 minutes into your presentation. Mention your major accomplishments so far and present anything else you believe would get you interested in your company if you were the investor in this situation.
- Founders and Team Members
Products and concepts are only as promising as the team members behind them. Investors are backing you just as much, if not more, than your idea. Gain the trust of your audience by letting them get to know the experts behind your product. Any background experience you can provide about yourself or your team relating to your company’s industry or the startup industry in general will help you gain the interest of investors.
Let your audience know if members of your team have a history of working together, as well as any accomplishments stemming from it. Successful exits are great points to highlight to prove to investors you’re familiar with acquisition. If you plan on listing your team’s advisors, make sure to inform them first.
- Problem & Solution
Your solution is only as important as the problem it addresses. If investors are unable to understand it’s a problem that needs solving, you’ll have a hard time convincing them to fund your concept. The bigger the problem you address, the more urgent your solution becomes. And because your solution is your value proposition, a bigger problem also means a more valuable solution.
Any examples you can provide of your product solving this problem add to your value proposition, whether they are case studies, customer testimonials, or any other example you believe demonstrates the benefits of your product.
- Customer Acquisition
After informing investors of the size of your problem, you’ll need to translate this to market size. How many customers will benefit from your solution? And how much will it cost to acquire these customers? High acquisition costs are a turnoff to investors, so make sure to justify them or include your plans to minimize them. If you don’t have customers yet, investors will want to see how you plan to acquire them. If people are already paying for your product, you’ll need to show how you’re going to grow this customer base moving forward.
- Financial Projections
Forecasting future financials is a challenging task, especially with limited financial history. Your projections will carry more weight if they are based on existing achievements. Provide real numbers in regard to existing partnerships, customers, dates of acquisition, and other figures such as cash flows in order to give investors a reason to expect success moving forward.
No matter how unique your product may seem, there are competitors vying for the same space as you. The differences in your product and the competition are most likely bigger in your eyes than those of your potential investors, so make sure to compare your model with competing models without bias. Include other details about competitors such as if they’ve been acquired, for how much, and by whom.
You’ll have a hard time winning over any investor if you’re unable to show how you’ll generate the revenue necessary for them to get a return on their investment. Investors will appreciate seeing different revenue streams with corresponding timelines for each. Include pricing, customer lifetime values, and reasons those customers will continue to use your product. Lastly, compare your pricing to that of your competitors and explain any differences in numbers or approach.
What more to be prepared for when raising capital
Regardless of your intention to raise capital with this pitch, it’s important to talk about funding. Let the investors know how much money you’ve been working with, as well as who has provided it. If you’ve been working with little to no money, show them how resourceful you’ve been. If you have received previous funding, explain who gave it to you, how much they gave, and the progress you owe to it. Make sure to let investors know if you’ve been using your own money. Investors are more likely to believe you’ll spend their money as if it were your own if that’s exactly what you’ve done in the past. If you are pitching in hopes of raising capital, inform investors of how much you intend to raise and what that money will help you accomplish.
Even after a solid presentation and a strong close, audience members will more than likely have questions. Make sure you’re ready to settle their nerves with prepared and informative answers. Performing background research on your audience will help you predict the type of questions they may have. Prepare the following slides and leave them at the end of your presentation.
Include a slide with press for your product after the last slide shown in the presentation. Including this information in your presentation will make it too lengthy, but you’ll want to have it ready in case an investor asks.
Barriers to Entry
Investors may ask about barriers to entry because they want to know how much and how long you’ll benefit from being first-to-market. They also want to know if there’s a good chance competitors will already be in your space by the time to get to market. Each barrier to entry limits your competition and is an advantage for your product, but highlighting only the biggest ones will be the most efficient use of your time.
No matter how excited your audience is about investing in your product, many of them are already thinking about how to exit. Make sure you have an exit strategy in place and are ready to discuss it with investors. Listing companies that might be acquiring yours in the future and similar acquisitions that have already occurred will help ease apprehension.
Feel free to add additional slides after your presentation based on anticipated questions. Because these topics will only be triggered by investor questions, you can have as many as you want without filling up your time slot. However, including too many extra slides may make them hard to navigate, so add them with caution. If a particular investor wants more details on these topics or any other topic in your presentation, let them know they can follow-up with you after the presentation or at a later date.