This sequence of slides below tell a story
(Continued from ‘The decisive 25 minutes of your life’).
I am writing this blog post to help you understand the perspective with which the investors are going to assess your business plan and why you should consider assessing it the same way anyway.
“This sequence of slides below tell a story:
We have a mission and a team that is taking us there. Why? We discovered a large problem and solved it with a product that has this amazing technology inside. We’re going to market and sell it to these customers, with these advantages over our competitors. In particular, we’re working towards these milestones over the next few quarters. In conclusion, this financing is a great investment opportunity.
The product isn’t revealed until the fifth slide of this methodical sequence—that’s annoying. Fortunately, the elevator pitch / summary slide kill the suspense by summarising your company and product before an investor jumps into the deck”. — Nivi, cofounder AngelList and Venture Hacks.
And please always keep in mind: your pitch-deck is not just a couple of slides that represent your solution but rather the visualization of your business plan.
Slide 1 — Cover
The cover slide should offer complete contact info, your logo and a tagline if you've got it right. This should be the shortest way of projecting your business.
(You want your contact information well established right on the cover so that you can be reached well enough and very simply too)
Imagine this was the only thing that the investor was going to look at from your deck for he suffers from lack of time. So, try to capture your business in most intriguing ways through just an image and no more than 2 lines.
Slide 2 — Mission
Find one interesting picture that summarizes your mission statement and write your mission statement on it.
Bad mission statements:
“To create the world’s largest software company.” [too broad and unrealistic to practically guide decision-making]
“To develop the world’s best technology for defending DNS servers from worm attacks.” [er, you said you’ve already done that, right? Mission accomplished!]
It helps when you just sit around the table and work on defining what you do to see where you agree and disagree about what the company is all about. It helps new hires understand what the company is about.It helps when you try and pivot to decide which direction to go or more importantly which direction not to go. It helps you decide when you are successful and see new opportunities which ones to consider and which ones to ignore.
Above all, it would tell the investor where are you aspiring to take your company. What should your company be known to have done. This slide will capture your big vision. Do you plan only tackling this one market your start operating in or are your plans to operate internationally or maybe even expanding your portfolio. All of these questions should be answered here. It’s important for us to see where you want to go with your product in the long run even if you have to focus on more urgent and pressing topics in everyday work.
Slide 3 — Summary/Elevator Pitch
Summarize the key, compelling facts of the company. This slide is to make up for the delay in introducing the product and your startup’s achievements in this slide deck methodology. It gives enough reason to your investor on why they should listen to you (or not) further.
Earlier this was called the management/executive summary. Today it’s the elevator pitch — and it’s literally a pitch! Tell us in 30 seconds who you are, what you do, what problem you solve and how you do it. Nothing more, nothing less! Short, precise and to the point. Thanks.
Slide 4 — Team
The team slide features right up here as your team is going to be the single biggest factor for an investor taking a keen interest in your proposition beyond your idea (your idea has briefly been spoken about in the summary slide already).
This slide should introduce upto 5 key members of your team.
The next 3 slides 5, 6,7 are the slides you should work on first
Slide 5 — Problem
If you had the idea to come up with your solution, there must be a problem you want to solve. Sounds simple? Well it is. Describe why there is a concrete need in society, tech or elsewhere that calls for exactly your solution — something that has never been there. And although we know, you are super eager to show us what you got — follow the rule: First the problem, then the solution!
A good moment to tell the investor of what is the problem this incredible team is looking to solve. The problem should be presented in a way that the investors sees it as his own. There is no better valdation for the problem you are looking to solve than the investor himself feeling that pain. If this is established you can be sure that you are connecting well with the investor at this point. Describe the inability of others for having solved this problem.
Your problem also indicates the size of your market and the potential usefulness of your following solution.
Slide 6 — Solution
And now the solution to remedy the above mentioned problem.
Include a demo such as a screencast, a link to working software, or pictures. This slide should clearly indicate how your solution is solving the above mentioned problem.
Walking the investor through a video of your working product would be a good thing to do.
Yes, please demo your product. A prototype would be nice, but it’s also ok, if you don’t have one yet, to give us a visual presentation of how your solution works. Thanks.
Slide 7 — Competition
There must be competition. Please, don’t take the liberty of saying there is no competition, for the chances of that are second to none. Also, it would reflect very bad on you if your investors find out that there are similar operators like you in your market and you have been either lying to them or have been clueless about your own market. The result of this would be that they are going to start discounting most of your words so far and there after for your perceived lack of knowledge of your own domain.
On this slide it would be very important for you to compare with your competition to clearly suggest why you have the advantage of doing it better than your competition.
It will do good for you to make a comparison in a 2 by 2 matrix diagram comparing the two most important factors of you business.
You should definitely convey clearly that you are open to anticipating your remote competitor trying to do what you are doing for they have the capability and the muscle to do the same, and in all likeliness, better.
Slide 8 — USP
Listing your USP will be a part of this slide based on the conclusions of your Slide 7 where you are drawing comparison between your product and your competitors products.
What’s your biggest advantage in comparison to the others out there? Are it hard facts like patents, kick-ass experience, a core feature, a super strong brand or are you already the market leader? Is your technology one-of-a-kind or are you simply working twice as hard as the others? What distincts you from the rest, is what makes you special to us and attractive to us!
Slide 9 — Technology / methodology
The exact unique advantage you have over others for doing what you are doing to continue to do it better than others who may be doing this or may be looking to do this.
Basically you need to delve deeper into your unique technology or other back end elements that give you a unique advantage over anyone in the future who may be looking to do exactly this.
Slide 10— Market opportunity and Marketing Strategy
Show off early customer or distribution progress: numbers, logos, testimonials. Discuss your plan to acquire users or customers.
Getting customers to buy your solution? Sounds crazy, but…yeah, you have to do that too! You need to show us how you approach the market you’re tackling and how you position your product in it. And have you considered that this burns quite some cash? Are you aware which channels make sense for you to activate? What are your conversion rates? Covering all Social Media Channels or doing only Tele-Sales will most likely not get you to close the deal. Be clear about which efforts you have to pursue and what they will cost. Yes…we are clearly looking for your Cost of Acquisition for customers.
Of course bigger is better and more volume is even better. But focus on a relevant market for your product and stay realistic. We want to see nice numbers, but always be sure, skyrocketing market shares and volumes happen only once in a million (hello @instagram) What part of the cake is for you and when will you get there? What does that mean translated into €’s. It might make sense to follow the top-down / bottom-up approach to validate your assumptions immediately.
Rather than speaking volumes about the size of the market, sum that up in one line, to put more focus on real user/customer case. Take one real customer and tell the investor how is he benefiting from you.
Why is now the time for you and your solution?
Slide 11 — Sales
Show your business model here. The per customer acquisition cost and what does it translate into — revenue, usage or whatever else.
Let’s not kid ourselves — in the end it’s all about how you make money and generate revenues. Do you make money through retail stores, by charging fees for ads or by taking commissions? There are so many models, that’s whywe want you to be as precise about your revenue-model as possible. Of course we know, pivots are always possible. So having 1 or 2 different revenue plans as a backup never hurts.
Slide 12 — Milestone
Include your current status and milestones for the next 1-3 quarters for product, team, marketing, sales, and quarterly and cumulative burn. Don’t build a detailed financial model if you don’t have past earnings, a significant financial history, or insight into the issue.
Slide 13 — Conclusion
This will have 2 components -
- This slide should be inspirational like how you can conclude the spirit of your business. For e.g. 1 For Preseed I would write on this slide — Those who will be touched by us will be transformed. They won’t care about how much money they are making, all they would care about is the difference they are making and how much they are learning in the process. They would stop being in a hurry and would rather give creativity its due time. They would create only that which is worthy of their time. They would believe rather than dismiss. e.g. 2 for Todoed I will write on this slide — Todoed can make the world more productive.
- Conclusion as a business opportunity in valuation terms. e.g. Todoed can be a billion dollar product in less than 3 years for it can have millions of users for it’s 0 learning curve and real gap fulfillment.
Slide 14 — Financing
Dates, amounts, and sources of money raised. How much money are you raising in this round?
Yes, a complex topic to talk about, but isn’t that why you are here? Let’s talk business. Show us what you have achieved till date. We’re happy to see first customers that act as a proof of concept or even first profits. This adds quite some credibility to you as a company and your product.
On the other hand you want something from us, so don’t hesitate to point that out. We know why you are here. Just tell us, how much money you need, how much you have raised so far and what you will use the cash for. A rough milestone planning for the next 6–12 months with concrete use for the funds you are about to raise is the non-plus-ultra here.
Also read other important details along the slide deck.
The sources that have influenced this blog post hugely -:
1. David Cowan’s blog post on almost the same topic.
2. A blog post on exactly this topic by Nivi on Venture Hacks. Infact this is the post which I have taken the maximum from for drafting this.
3. A post by Brad Feld almost similar to David Cowan’s post
4. A blog post by Dave Mclure on why you should pitch the problem first.
5. http://themacro.com/articles/2016/07/how-to-pitch-your-company/ a post by Michael Seibel, a YC partner. He sums it up in 7 questions.
6. And numerous slide decks that I have gone through myself.
9. I strongly recommend you to read this tiny blog post by Sequoia Capital.
10. Www.pitchdeckcoach.com is a useful website for learning about the art of making pitch decks.
11. Airbnb pitch deck – https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/PitchDeckCoach/airbnb-first-pitch-deck-editable
12. YC+Stripe – guide to startup pitching – https://stripe.com/atlas/guides/pitching
You can further dig these link below for insightful examples on how some of the very successful startups created/strategized their pitch deck.
On this site (http://www.pitchenvy.com/) you will find some more useful slide decks of popular startups.
And finally to sum it all here
Please review your slide decks without personal bias. Empathise with those who you may be showing your slide deck to. Anyway, remember, the only 2 things of importance here are ‘your startup story’ and ‘your execution’!
If you want to learn about pitching in greater detail read this PDF.
And once you are done with reading all of the above, download this bible and print it out. Keep it with you at all times and keep learning about your startup as a venture poised for millions of dollars in venture money backing.