For first time founders, a pitch deck equals ‘brand’. As your business is yet to prove its lasting success, you need to present its reputation, before it’s even earned any reputation.
So there is a heightened sense of importance to build a great pitch deck. After all, the quality of your investor deck determines the amount of your next investment, as well as the lifespan of your venture, at least for the short- and mid-term. This kicks off the cycle of trust, as the investment sends signals to the market, industry thought leaders, and ultimately the customer.
That’s why today we look at what makes a great investor deck and how to prepare it to ensure investors pay attention and lend you their trust.
By the end of this article, you will know:
- How to prepare a pitch deck that gets the attention
- How to present your ideas with clarity and brevity
- What to include in your pitch deck
Starting with why…
Simon Sinek’s talk, ‘Start with why’, is likely the most quoted and a best-known crash course on how pitch decks should work.
Dissecting Apple’s success, Sinek told the basic principle of starting and running a business — there has to be a story, the why behind what you’re doing. This applies to any segment of your venture — your business plan, your market positioning, your customer targeting, and of course — your pitch deck.
How does this apply to a pitch deck?
If you think of a pitch deck as a collection of LEGO bricks, then studs (tiny bits that protrude from a LEGO brick) would be the storytelling element of your investor deck. They keep all the bricks and plates together, as you go on building a castle.
The truth is that a pitch deck exists to sell a story. The story is about what you plan to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, who will help you along the way, what are you going to do next.
Think of a band of superheroes. They’re on a mission to accomplish a quest, each of them has some superpowers, they will need some aides along the way, there are some secret artifacts (investments) to propel them faster to the goal.
So, your pitch deck needs to tell a coherent story.
A pitch deck is not a sum of individual parts. It’s a tapestry of interwoven parts, one flowing from the other. So instead of simply listing information under bullet points, tell a story that’s memorable.
…but remembering the what
Sinek’s storytelling approach can do wonders for your next pitch. However, you should also think back to what your business is or what your product does.
Some startup founders fall into the trap of overselling the story, without even bothering with the what’s and how’s of your business.
And this is not enough.
A good pitch deck needs to be based on rock-solid information. You should tell a story about how you plan to revolutionize eCommerce or sustainable beef farming, but your market research and financial projections need to be based on hard data.
Plus, the story has to provide sufficient information for the whole picture to work.
Some information you need to include is:
- Target market
- Marketing and sales strategy
- Investment and funding needs
Think like an investor
The secret to a good pitch deck is not only what you say, but how you say it.
And for investors, whose inboxes are flooded with pitches and ideas, it’s essential that your pitch deck talks to their pain points and its solutions.
In short, investors look for two things — profit and reliability. And your pitch deck should hit the sweet spot between these two ends of the spectrum.
Let’s think back to the purpose of your pitch deck and talk about profit.
As you know, the pitch deck serves to secure funds, so you can go back and build and improve the product and expand your business.
So, the deck should be about the investor, not you.
Often, less experienced startup founders are eager to present their ideas to the world, but become so engrossed in that idea, that they forget to sell it to investors.
What we mean is that your pitch deck needs to speak to the investors. It needs to capture their attention, by showing the benefits they will get, not your business. This is where thorough market research comes in handy — it helps you grasp the future benefits of investing in your venture. That’s the key information you need to present. Investors always want to know what’s in it for them.
But there is also the matter of reliability.
Besides knowing which information is critical for inventors, you also need to demonstrate that you have done your homework and built a plan to smash your goal.
Remember, your pitch deck should earn you funds from investors. But from their perspective, they are taking a risk and voluntarily injecting funds into a business that is yet to grow. While there is always risk in business, some businesses are riskier than others.
And your pitch deck should alleviate that fear.
It needs to present proof of your determination, expertise, and feasibility.
So it’s always best to take your pitch deck and dissect it as if you were an investor, to make sure you iron out all potential glitches.
Iterate through rejection
Now, the not-so-pleasant part.
Many startup founders face rejection when pitching their ideas.
Rejection is an integral part of your pitch deck, and quite possibly the most important one.
The more you practice, the more stamina you will have and your presentations, your pitch deck, and your presence will improve. This will in time help you become a better presenter, speak with confidence with investors and know exactly what to expect and how to prepare your pitch deck.
No matter how much you practice at home, no piece of feedback is as valuable as the actual feedback you get from investors. So take as many opportunities to deliver your pitches, without hesitation, but with plenty of preparation.
Making your pitch deck work
Now that you know the key ingredients for a great pitch deck, it’s time to start building.
First, remember to include the building blocks of your business ventures. Then, weave a compelling story around them, being mindful of benefits for investors. Keep on refining and practicing, work through small improvements, and incorporate the feedback.
After a couple of pitches, you will start feeling more confident about how to improve your pitch, and in time, you will know exactly what to say and what questions to ask to secure the funds for your venture.
Have a lot of pitch ideas but not sure how to best deliver them? Grab our one-page business model canvas and build a brief, punchy plan as a blueprint for your next pitch.