Here we go again with what to include in your pitch deck. Must be the pitch season. But Alejandro Cremades Forbes article Pitch Deck Template: Exactly What To Include is not only the most comprehensive, but each item is also well-commented. But I’ll attempt to add a few annotations of my own. His article includes links to two decks worth reviewing: one from Peter Thiel and the other from an Uber competitor that raised $400 million.
1) Your Company Information
It continues to surprise me how many founders forget something slightly more specific that company information: your contact information. They get the company name, tag line, and even logo on the first slide, but often forget the rest. But I suggest leaving the contact info for the last slide. You don’t want the audience trying to scribble down your email and web site while you are trying to present to them.
2) The Concept
Others call this The Idea or even The Big Idea. Your tag line ought to be the teaser for the big idea, which has to be engaging. The rest of your pitch consists of convincing your audience you will make them a lot of money by implementing your big idea, assuming they will fund you, of course!
3) The Problem
As I’ve noticed elsewhere, this needs to be a both a big and a prevalent problem if there’s going to be a big market in solving it.
4) The Solution
Enough has been said about this!
5) Market Size
Many founders either forget or just don’t know that VCs are aiming to build billion dollar companies, not million dollar or even 100 million dollar companies. The big winners need to pay for all the losers, which can be 70% of a portfolio. Think big or don’t even bother to pitch VCs. And may founders also neglect to include the growth factor of the market. Yes, the market for family sedans is large, but it’s shrinking! Investors want a growing market, not a static or shrinking one.
6) The Competition
Don’t forget to include how your customers are attempting to solve the problem now, especially if it’s a home-brew or cobbled together solution. The status quo is your biggest competitor, not some other company. People hate change. Why? They are scared of it. The devil they know is preferable to the devil they don’t.
7) Competitive Advantages
Here’s your chance to explain why those customers who hate change are going to love your product so much that they will adopt your product by the zillions, at least. What clearly differentiates your product or service and why does that differentiation appeal to the market enough so that they will pay you enough for it to make at a profit?
8) The Product
Very short videos have begun to replace live demos (usually too risky) and static images (too dull ). You shouldn’t need more than 60 to 90 seconds. And keep in mind, years of TV watching has conditioned viewers to expect broadcast level quality. Either deliver that quality or purposefully make it look home-made, like the back of the napkin sketch that raised $10 million. Don’t get lost in features or benefits. Focus on how your product solves your customer’s problem in amazing fashion!
If I only had one slide besides the Team it would be this one. Investors are risk averse. Few have the guts to take a flyer on any idea, even a ground-breaking one. They want and need validation. Validation comes first from users. They are the most important. Get enough of them, as Google and dozens of other companies proved, and you will make money. But it’s important that they use your product early and often. And the key to traction is virality, either through social media or good old fashioned word of mouth. Without virality the cost of customer acquisition usually make a consumer product unprofitable. If you have an enterprise product you can worry less about virality and more about having testimonials from influential customers.
10) Business Model
The important thing is you have a model! Precision is less important than logic. Your model needs to make sense. Innovate with your product or service; attempting an innovative business model as well is a very high risk path.
11) Basic Financial Forecast
Metrics are much more important than spreadsheets. Key metrics are cost of customer acquisition, lifetime value of a customer, customer churn rate, your burn rate, break even point, amount of capital needed to reach profitability, etc. As written elsewhere, the assumptions behind these numbers are more important than the numbers themselves.
12) Other Investors
Again, investors are risks averse. Again, they are looking for validation of your business. Aside from paying customers, other investment in your venture shows validation. Even friends and family is much better than just your sweat equity.
13) Use of Funds
This is a highly strategic slide, as it depends on how much money you are trying to raise. The rule of thumb is your raise should last you 12 to 18 months, but projecting your burn rate can be very difficult, as the cost of marketing and sales – customer acquisition – can grow very quickly. And when your product or service is mature enough is another tough judgement call, as is what you consider compelling traction. Spend a lot of time figuring out how much you need to raise and how you will invest (not spend) it in your venture.
14) Who is Involved
My only difference with the author is that in my experience investors want to know who the team is long before sitting through 13 other slides! Putting this right after the solution gives you the opportunity to explain why the experience and expertise of your team is ideally suited to delivering the solution you have just described.
15) Thank You
Yep, here’s the place for your contact info. And I agree with the author you want to end your presentation on a positive note, be that a testimonial from a beta tester or a good quote from an analyst or the media.
Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and author of best-selling book The Art of Startup Fundraising.