Being in this game for over four years means I’ve done my fair share of pitches and seen hundreds of decks. I believe there is a constant theme and with the right approach you can give yourself the best possible leg up on pitch day.
The first piece of advice I could give you is that the pitch is a story so spend some time writing, rewriting, and perfecting your story so your audience is engaged and wanting more — Just like a good book or a movie.
Second, is the most important part, the questions. You need to treat this like a televised political debate. Have a “red team” to really test the Founder(s) on commonly asked questions by potential investors but also the harder and somewhat unusual ones that can put the Founder(s) off their rhythm.
I like to say to Founders going through their first pitch that the story matters but the game truly begins in Q&A!
Your deck should be treated like a highlighter. It should be used to emphasise the key points, learnings so far, and the vision to reinforce the story you are sharing.
As much as you want to leave a pitch with a no questions asked cheque for $1m the likelihood of that happening is donut. The next step here is actually more questions to qualify your investor as much as they are qualifying you for investment.
Not all investment is created equal. I like to bucket investors into these categories:
- Blind Investor — Money without direction
- Equity Investor — Money for a %
- Board Investor — Money for equity / Board Seat
- Ownership Investor — Money for 51%
- Role Investor — Money with operational oversight / role
- Desk Investor — Money with desk to oversee but don’t do anything productive
I usually argue the top 4 are beneficial but the bottom 2 should be avoided in almost all circumstances.
The next meeting with the Investor and their team is always the next goal — Moving down the due diligence path and being ready for what they throw at you.
My worst experience was pitching to a room with a combined net worth of $200m. I was second and in the first pitch the guy got to the podium and said “I’m such and such and I sold my last startup to Intel for $500m”. It didn’t matter what I was offering!
Below, I’ve listed the 10 most important slides that I believe investors care about the most.
- Problem / Solution — Why is there a problem /How have you fixed it.
- Market — TAM / SAM / SOM.
- Product — Features / Demo or Screenshots.
- Team — What they do / What they have done before.
- Business / Revenue Model — How do you make money.
- Projections — Model of current / future state.
- Competitors — Graph your competitors by features. Show you’ve done your homework.
- Go-To-Market Plan / Current Traction — How you will acquire users / customers.
- Investment / Sources & Uses — How much do you want / Who has invested so far / Where will investment be spent.
- Summary — Key Milestones / Success so Far (I usually end my pitch on this slide so Investors see this during Q&A.
Remember that everyone has a great idea but it’s execution that truely matters.
And finally, here is collection of my fav pitch decks from the leading startups of the past few years.