The key slide missing from most pitch decks

You’ve just delivered your best investor pitch ever! Now what’s the conversation you want to have with the people in the room? Putting a milestones slide at the end of your pitch deck helps you with three important things:

  1. Show how far you’ve already come
  2. Provide your roadmap at a glance
  3. Frame your “ask”

You can grab our milestones slide template for free. Simply make a copy from the Google Docs File menu and assign a new theme or use View>Master to customize the one we’ve provided.

Constructing the Milestones Slide

The important thing is to show what you’ve already accomplished plus what you’re working on next. Two columns is easiest for people to understand, although it can also be done as a stack like this slide from Buffer:

The problem here is that it takes a minute to figure out that some of these Buffer items have already been accomplished — whereas others are slated for future milestones. Can you tell which is which?

The giveaway is the green text.

It’s easier to understand if you split the past vs. future into separate columns and then use checkmarks to indicate completed items.

Here’s the layout we recommend:

1. Show how far you’ve already come

Investors love entrepreneurs who are always hustling. You instill confidence that you’re the right team to reach the next set of milestones by showing how far you’ve already come.

Your ability to get things done is what separates you from the hundreds of other opportunities your investors are looking at — and it’s what convinces them that your startup is the right place to put their money and time.

List the few main items that you’ve already achieved in the first column. These typically include traction, product, and fundraising. You want to show investors that you’re a natural born hustler and that you’re already making the magic happen. Now they feel more comfortable giving you their money.

Here are some examples:

Traction:

  • 10,000 registered users with 3,000 weekly actives
  • $10,000 monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
  • Signed first three enterprise customers for $5,000 MRR

Product

  • Completed mock-up and pricing validation with 50 potential customers
  • Released minimum viable product (MVP) to first 1,000 users

Fundraising

  • Raised $50k from friends and family
  • Completed accelerator and received $25k

You should include everything that shows how awesome you are, but keep the list to five items or less so that people can read it quickly.

2. Provide your roadmap at a glance

Now that you’ve instilled confidence in your audience, you want to lay out your next steps. Start by time-boxing the list with something like, “Next Six Months.” You want to be aggressive, but keep it realistic because you’re making a promise to your investors.

Next, state what you’re asking for, such as “Raising $250k as a convertible note.” You might include the basic deal terms, such “Raising $500k equity at a $2M pre-money valuation.”

One of the most common mistakes we see in pitch decks is forgetting to include the “ask.” We get to the last slide and we still don’t know what you want. Always put what you’re asking for in writing on the last slide. Your audience will thank you. Remember that your ask can change depending on who you’re presenting to, like a strategic partnership, etc.

Scarcity and social proof are like catnip for investors, so if you’ve already closed some of the round you could say “Raising $250k as a convertible note ($80k remaining).”

You don’t need to provide too much detail on actual deal terms here, because if people are interested you’ll be able to talk them through the specifics.

Finally, list the milestones you’ll accomplish with the money. It’s best to focus on what you’ll accomplish (“$10k monthly recurring revenue”) vs. how you’ll accomplish it (“Hire 3 developers and a project manager, release version 2 of the product, ramp our spend on Facebook and Twitter ads”).

If you do want to get that specific then you can do a separate “Uses of Funds” slide with a more detailed list.

This is your promise to investors: “If you give us this money then we will hit these milestones.” So make sure you can do it.

3. Frame your “ask”

The goal is to stand out from every other deal these investors are looking at. You do this by spelling out how much you’ve already achieved, what you’re asking for, and what you’ll accomplish in the next phase along with how long you expect that to take.

Putting this all on one slide sums it up for your audience shapes the conversation you’re about to have with them.

You can also work backward from what people would need to see on this slide in order to invest. Then go out and do those things before you start raising your next round.

Expect to have multiple conversations with people before they put any money in. For best results, report new progress every time. Investors want to see momentum in order to feel comfortable putting money into your company.

So make sure you’re always moving the ball down the field.

More Milestones Slide Examples

Here a are a few examples of what works and what could be improved (although it’s true that all of these companies successfully raised money).

> This final slide from Buzzfeed is a missed opportunity because it only has contact info. We’re guessing that whoever Jonah was presenting to already knew how to contact him:

> This final slide from Moz is certainly aspirational, but it doesn’t shape the conversation around what they’re asking for and what they’re going to do with the money:

> This final slide from Mixpanel provides incredible social proof. If all of these amazing people have invested, then why shouldn’t you? In fact, you’re probably missing out if you don’t invest!

They did miss a chance to state what they’re asking for and what they’ll do with the money. We also recommend including a logo on all of your slides.

> This milestones slide from Intercom does a great job of laying out the ask and what they plan to do with the money. The only thing we would add is a short list of accomplishments.

Shape the conversation

You’ve just delivered the best pitch of your life. You get to this last slide, the investor looks at both columns and quickly understands where you’re coming from, where you’re going, and what you need to get there.

She immediately starts asking questions. This is exactly what you want!

Putting this milestones slide last in your pitch deck usually starts a conversation focused on whatever’s most important to you.

You can grab our milestones slide template here.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

Written by Mike Lingle — Find more practical suggestions and free webinars for entrepreneurs at 10xU or connect with me on LinkedIn.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.