Pitching an investor is much more about the conversation than presentation, the process of creating a pitch deck will help you get clarity on how to present your idea to a qualified investor. While your enthusiasm and knowledge are important components to pitching your business, your pitch deck will keep you on point so you don’t wander down rabbit trails. To that end I though it would be helpful to sort through the 20 million Google results for “pitch deck” and give you my two cents on where to invest your time.
The first site we examine is Forbes, which outlines the basic structure of an effective pitch deck and provides some useful tips to consider before embarking on your presentation. Forbes advises you to keep in mind that a pitch deck is not meant to answer every possible question and to dive into every excruciating detail regarding your business model. A well constructed pitch deck will get investors excited about your idea and will not flood the room with unnecessary detailed information. In fact, it is best to leave potential investors with questions in order to keep them interested. Also, be careful to not fill the presentation with claims that cannot be backed up. The art of the pitch deck is condensed into a succinct eleven slide structure on Forbes. The first slide is the elevator pitch which should be very succinct, incorporating a very brief one-line description of your product or service. The remainder of the presentation is composed in part of a few slides for financial information and a slide covering the problem that your business is attempting to solve. The sample PowerPoint provided on Forbes is an excellent tool to understand the basic structure of the pitch deck.
Pitchdeckcoach.com provides this framework as well, but also outlines some other useful information including a down to earth description of the components that investors are analyzing most in your presentation. A good pitch deck successfully convinces investors that your business model is low risk with a large return. A 10x to 20x return is most sought after by investors, so don’t forget to include this crucial information in your pitch. The slide structure described at pitchdeckcoach.com is a little different from the one found on Forbes. A cover slide which hooks the audience is a given, but four additional slides are also suggested, including an appendix slide which could possibly include information such as positive customer reviews. This 15 slide presentation may be too long for some pitches, but may be just right for others, so plan out your pitch accordingly based on your specific business idea.
Another site that can help to get your business pitch off the ground is LinkedIn’s slideshare.net. They also outline a 15 slide structure that makes an effective pitch deck. The presentation model is consistent with the outlines presented on the other sites that we have already analyzed; an elevator pitch, problem slide, and financials are all included in the structure. However, the explanations provided for each slide may be overwhelming for you, especially if you are looking to deliver your very first pitch. If you are a first timer, you may choose to turn to Forbes or pitchdeckcoach.com for some more succinct explanations. On the other hand, if you consider yourself to be more experienced when it comes to delivering a pitch, then slideshare.com may be the perfect site that will allow you to learn even more. In addition, slideshare.com provides a lengthy list of common investor questions. Anyone’s worst nightmare is standing in front of a panel of potential investors, only to find that you are unprepared for the myriad of questions that are thrown your way. Finally, you will find a useful list of general tips to consider when creating your pitch deck. Remember that there is no exact number of slides that are required, and also, prepare yourself for the possibility of failure.
Similar to the other sites mentioned Barcinno.com stresses the problem slide, explaining that in order to appeal to investors, your business idea must solve a problem, or fill a gap in the market. This is a perfect opportunity for a short anecdote. If you personally have the problem that your business is attempting to solve, then it is likely that someone else in the room also has the same problem. One of the most satisfying experiences when delivering a pitch is witnessing the head bobbing of an investor, indicating that they understand, and can relate to your product or service, and to the problem that you’re attempting to solve. Of course, no problem slide in complete without a solution slide following. This is where you describe the ways in which your product solves the problem presented on the previous slide. On barcinno.com, you will find a succinct yet detailed explanation for every slide that ought to be included in a pitch deck. Unfortunately, general advice and information regarding the need for an investor presentation are lacking on the site.
Finally there’s nothing like a real world example pitch deck presentation by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman – reifhoffman.org. Reid is generous enough to share LinkedIn’s series B presentation. While this is not something to be copied for a startup it gives you insight of how great companies think when making an investor presentation. The site allows you to view every slide, and even incorporates a detailed explanation for every aspect of the presentation. Hoffman’s site allows you to view the slideshow from an incredibly successful web based company; this is a highly valuable tool if you are looking to create a pitch deck for your own business. In many ways, this sample pitch is far more valuable then the general outlines seen on many of the other sites previously mentioned.
It is important to check out many sites to allow yourself to absorb as much knowledge and advice as possible before settling on a final pitch deck. A pitch deck can make or break any company, so design your presentation wisely, and incorporate only the most important information. Meanwhile, be sure to include enough detail so that you can accurately convey the goal of your business.
What are you favorite resources for developing a winning pitch deck?