5 Tips for Pitching a Deck that Captures an Investor’s Attention
For a founder, fundraising can be an overwhelming process. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make it less time-consuming and more successful. Putting together a strong pitch deck that tells your story, introduces your team and company, and showcases the value of what you offer is one of them.
Not sure where to start when it comes to telling a compelling and interesting story? Here are five tips for creating a thoughtful and engaging pitch deck you’ll be confident to present to any investor.
1. Pitching begins before the actual presentation
Founders wait too long to start building a real relationship with potential investors. When it’s time for their fundraise, they’re then forced to spend concentrated amounts of time with a number of firms to “get to know them.” I believe this is a terrible way to really get to know a firm. If there are investors pinging you to learn more about what you’re building, and if you respect them and like their firm, meet them outside of their office for a coffee or lunch. Ask them questions about who they are, why they joined the firm they are at, which entrepreneurs they have worked with in the past and why, and what they’ve done for companies that have struggled.
Don’t wait until you have term sheets on the table to spend this quality time because the decision making experience is rushed and often times leads to inaccurate assessments.
2. Tout Your Team
Talking about your team and the deep experience each person brings can go a long way with an investor. While many founders try and protect the time of their executive team during a fundraise, the strength of your team is a big part of the reason why investors will want to back you. In my experience, talking about team and culture in a pitch correlates highly with having a good culture. In your slides, include titles and pictures of key team members, along with logos from companies where they had top experiences. Throw in a few pictures of your team hanging out or some pictures from the office, too! Investors want to see your culture in action.
While you don’t have to bring your team to every meeting, it’s a smart idea to offer to set up conversations between an investor and key executives at your company. This is a great way to show how your team is balanced with different strengths and areas of focus, along with how effective you are at hiring.
3. Include a Product Demo (Even if It’s Not Perfect)
If you have a product that a number of customers are using — or even beta testing — show the investor! I’ve been in several situations where a founder is caught off guard when I ask to see a product demo, and that’s s always a red flag for me. Your product should be the center of your fundraise, so show it off. There are situations in which a founder is worried about a product not looking or performing perfectly in a fundraising process, and that’s okay. We expect products to not be perfect.
It’s always better to show a product demo (and outline where you’d like to inevitably improve it), than not show a demo at all.
4. Nail the Market Slide
Lots of founders spend weeks building their market slide and deciding whether to include a top down or bottom up market analysis. The reality is that while those numbers are important to crunch, a VC will likely do their own analysis and haircut some of your assumptions. Instead, I’ve found including precedent transactions in the market that relate to your company are more valuable. For example, if you’re raising capital for an open source company, including revenue multiples for public companies like Pivotal Labs or Elastic will be helpful. Additionally, if you or your team has heard about valuations given to recent open source companies in the private markets — it would be helpful to include those as well. That will help set the expectation of what valuation and dilution you’re willing to take. Making a case for why your business is valuable due to your own underlying traction is critical, but including valuations and capital raises that other companies with similar traction have gotten from the market help make your case even stronger.
5. Pitch Your Deck in Person
A deck with a unified look and feel will help tell your story and highlight your vision, but I never suggest sending a deck in advance. Instead, I advise founders to present in person whenever they can. The full power of your pitch — and presenting your deck — includes you as the founder. You’re a key part of what’s exciting about the deal, and so much of that power is lost in a first phone call.
Once you’ve finished your presentation, make the most of your time in front of a VC answering any questions they may have. Whenever you can, bring the conversation back to your core values — your presentation may be great, but your values are what will ultimately determine your success and inspire a VC to invest. Best of luck!