Pitches are scary, even more so if you do not have an investment winning pitch deck. Here are a few ABCs to remember.
Let us start with what you should be thinking of when defining and defining your pitch.
• Aim of the pitch is to open up discussions about investments, mentoring and start up assistance.
• All investors receive thousands of applications a year, so getting in front of an investor is a great start.
• Always know your audience. Does your potential investor invest in your particular market and products? Do they invest at the investment level you are seeking? What are their investment priorities – for example do they invest in renewable products, pets, real estate etc.?
• Always remember your manners. Do not dive straight into your pitch without basic etiquette such as waiting to be introduced, asked about coffee etc. Do not take off your jacket unless others do and obviously dress to impress.
• Accentuate your business benefits. You are there to sell your business and its team – not have a sales pitch for its products.
Here we talk about what you should remember when setting out your pitch.
• Brief so that the potential investor is not bored. Most successful pitch decks are 10-12 slides long and your accompanying narration should be just as brief and at the maximum 20 minutes before sleepiness sets in for the investor who has probably heard a lot of it before. The key facts and information is what the potential investor is seeking and they do not want to have to dig it out from your story about how Aunt Mary suggested you solve her bunion problem. AirBnB pitch deck was very short at 12 slides yet they raised millions of dollars.
• To the point and do not waver from your pitch deck contents. Look at some sample pitch decks from some now massive companies and see how they did not waiver from the point.
• A story teller. Tell an interesting story as you weave your way through the slides and you will keep the attention of the potential investor.
• Accurate in all you say. No company can solve all business problems so try not to exaggerate the size of the market place or the effectiveness of your products. Be accurate in your financials and how established your company currently is. Be sure to get your pitch deck reviewed by someone you trust and get their opinion.
• Be truthful as down right untruths will be found at during the discovery process and you will be banned. Investors are a tight knit group and word will get around. Investors are also very skilled business people.
• Clear in your presentation. This means no distractions from over stuffed or over fussy slides and try to keep bullet points and multiple graphics on one screen to the minimum.
• Original: Investors must see so many potential pitches that say “Uber for X” or a “Google competitor” that they must get very bored. Remember the big companies became big very quickly because they found a niche and a window of opportunity, because they copied another breakthrough business model. All investors are looking for the next Unicorn – very rare which is why these types of investments are called Unicorn. Be the Unicorn not the zebra.
• Appropriate. Remember what you are there for. Keep your pitch deck pointed in the correct direction and ensure it tells just the story your want to tell.
• Precise as to what you will do with the investment. If you need it to seek better manufacturers in order to bring the price down then say so. Best not to be seeking investment so that the directors continue to be paid. Seed investment is for growing the company not keeping the status quo and founding investors are meant to get their benefits from growing their share values.
• Fair as to what investment is available elsewhere: if you are seeking investors elsewhere to top up the seed investment then state this. No Angel Investor wants to see their share value immediately diluted. Similarly if you already have investors on board then state this.
• Clear as to the investor’s responsibilities. What shares are you offering for investment? Are you expecting them to also mentor the directors? Open up their black book etc.?
• Sure to include an exit strategy. So the investor knows when and how they will get their investment back as well as what they remuneration and profit will be in response to their investment in your company.
• Readable. A slide is not the place for 10 or 12 point, 16 point and preferably 20 point of a clear and professional font should be used on your slides. Similarly have a light background and not too many graphics on one slide. Text should be to the minimum.
• Certain to use your headlines. Rather than standard headings such as “business model” use interesting and memorable titles such as “the magic that is us”. Try and tell as story just with your headlines before you add all the other texts.
• Memorable. In what you say and what you present. Stand out from the crowds. Try not to use recognisable stock images. Not all of us are great photographers or design gurus so when you do your search on the image directory, scroll down several pages rather than take from the top images.
Now let us look at the important part – creating your pitch deck.
The content of a great pitch deck should include these slides and preferably no other slides.
1. Cover Slide: showing the company name, logo, website address and an appropriate graphic. You could put a short tag line to pique interest in the coming presentation. Uber is a famous pitch deck and their tag line was “Next generation car service”. AirBnB’s was “Book rooms with locals rather than hotels”. Both of them were interesting, succinct and informative.
2. Vision and Value Proposition: Why your company exists and what it plans to do, what value it provides
3. The Problem: what business problem you are seeking to solve or have identified.
4. The Solution: how you are going to solve it with the products you have on hand.
5. Target Market and Opportunity: where you are going to solve problem and who is likely to buy the solution. You should include the size, shape and changes expected within the market place.
6. Competition: who else is in this market and may slow your growth and expansion. Show how you are better than them and include your USP.
7. Business Model: how you will operate within this market to bring in revenue. Here a Business Model Canvas is ideal.
8. Traction: how your revenue is doing so far, how many current customers you have, the rate of customer acquisition and your company’s roadmap to the future.
9. Marketing and Selling: how you will action this traction and attract customers to your company’s offerings?
10. Team: who will undertake the directorship of the business. Include any key advisors and key skilled staff.
11. Financials: sales forecast, revenue to date etc. Include some major KPIs
12. Investment: how much you want, when and how it will be used. The investors proposed ROI and shares being offered then their exit strategy.
13. Thank you: Thank them for the opportunity, show the way forward and most importantly your contact details. This is the slide that will stay on the screen as you discuss matters further so make it memorable.
Now you have done the hard part, you need to briefly summarise your pitch in a few words, emphasising how you will solve this business problem, grow your company and make best use of the investment.
Now take a breath and let the potential investor ask a few questions and make a short statement. Listen intently and be confident in your answers. Do not be defensive if they do not understand completely what you have said. Be ready to learn from them. Now shake hands all round and ask for a future meeting to discuss the future. This is your call to action so do not just walk out of the room and wonder what just happened. You may have got your investment after all.