Slides to put in your pitch deck
Also known as “how to pitch for money from VC.”
There are 571,000 results for that exact question on Google, yet we get asked for advice almost daily.
Some of the articles online are filled with spectacular advice; other results are absolute nonsense.
Sorting through the chaos-that-is-the-internet to get to the good stuff is a swirling black hole of a time sink.
So, we’ve done it for you.
Below is what we look for in a pitch deck, and then below that is a list of other articles we think are excellent and you should read. For some extra context, here’s a companion article about Square Peg’s investment process.
Build your deck
Your deck is the catalyst which transforms a VC from someone who doesn’t know or understand your business, into someone who is interested in what you’re doing. That’s its job.
At Square Peg, we’re excited by exceptional founders who have identified a really huge problem (pain and market size) and are solving it in a way that is unique. Your deck needs to tell this story.
We don’t believe that a perfect template for this process exists, but there are common questions that all VCs look to answer.
In simple terms, answer these questions:
Zoom out and explain it at a high level in a sentence or two. Then zoom in and show us that you understand it in detail.
Zoom out and explain it at a high level in a sentence or two. Then zoom in and show us that you understand it in detail. AKA “what you do”.
Who are you building for? How and when do they pay you?
- Vital signs AKA “The traction slide’.
Show us what core business metrics you’re tracking and why. Ideally, this will show that the model you outlined above is working (even if it’s early days).
- Competitive analysis
Resist the temptation to draw a graph and put your competitors’ logos in the bottom left and yours in the top-right. This is not analysis. It impresses zero people. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how deeply you understand the market in which you operate. Outline who your main competitors are and explain the landscape: what are they focused on? Why is your framing of the problem better? Do you serve the same customers? Do you win customers from your competitors? Are they a realistic threat? Are they well-funded? How would your customers describe them?
- Management Team
Ultimately, VCs back people, then ideas — while no VC can say yes from a slide deck, don’t underestimate the importance of this page. For this reason, reframe this page in your mind as your “right to win”. Of all the billions of humans in the world, why do you and your team have the skills, expertise and passion to win with this business? Logos under names are pretty, but that tells us sweet FA about whether you were the intern or the CEO. Has your team grown a tech startup internationally? Do you have connections in all the right places? Be explicit.
If you want to include this slide because you’re remarkably ship-shape, then fine. But avoid ludicrous projections.
- The grand plan
How much are you raising and what milestones will you hit with the $$? Be prepared to explain how you got to that number and why you made those assumptions/decisions.
To make this simple, we’ve pulled these questions into a super simple pitch deck template that you can download. Note: you will need to edit, add, remove, finesse it for your business.
The review process:
- Get feedback
Send it to friends who are neither a) an expert in your business, nor b) a Luddite. If they can understand what you do and why it’s exciting, you’re on the right track. If you can’t explain it, you probably don’t understand it well enough.
- Use correct terminology
Don’t fill your deck with buzzwords or jargon. It is every VC’s pet peeve. Unless you are genuinely building a blockchain-enabled, deep-learning AI, these words aren’t for you.
- Keep the design simple
You’re aiming for clarity and legibility on phones, tablets, laptops. Don’t trade clarity for swish graphics.
- Exit strategies
If you create real value, exit ‘opportunities’ will litter your doorstep. Your goal is to build a billion-dollar business… you’ll need to spend your time saying “no, thank you” on your way to success.
- Valuation slide
Typically, valuation is arrived at following a conversation between the investor and the entrepreneur; this makes the most sense as investors value businesses on a regular basis and have a healthy dataset to provide insight.
- An NDA
It’s a VC’s role to look at and discuss businesses; don’t present a document that will stop them from doing that — no one will sign it.
Take the meeting
- In attendance
The founder/management team dynamic is absolutely critical to get right. In many ways, it is the most important part of the meeting. If your co-founder is with you, prep how you will tell your story together — it’s very different to being a solo presenter — but don’t bring warm bodies for the sake of it. Similarly, thank advisors but leave them at home.
- It’s your show
At Square Peg, we prefer open conversations over a rehearsed monologue. We won’t ask you to present in front of a panel with a pitch deck unless you really want to. Instead, we strongly encourage you to think about (and practice) how you have a focused conversation about your business.
- Know your stuff
You’ll be expected to know your metrics (the important ones, that you’ve identified, at least), the market, trends and your own decision drivers. It’s less about having the perfect answer, and more about being able to recognise that if you don’t have one, you have a rough idea of how to start solving for one.
- Don’t panic
It’s a stressful environment, so if a stat slips your mind, saying you will send it through later is okay, too (this happens all the time).
- Share your passion
After the meeting
- Follow up
Think standard, non-offensive and gracious. Send a short note to wrap up the conversation, recap the things you’d promised to send through and when you expect to do that, if not right away.
Reflect on what went well, what the VC was excited about or was nervous about and what you need to work on. Write it down, share it with your co-founder or an advisor. Then learn from this experience so that you compound the good.
- Download Square Peg’s simple pitch deck template (make it your own)
- Read about simple design principals here or here
- Why self-reflection is excellent
- How to create your story pitch or how to the use narrative fallacy to your advantage
- Fundraising approaches (though watch for US specific context)
- Struggling to build a cap table? Read this or this.