Straight from an investing team and featuring a deck that landed a local entrepreneur an investment, Darshan Vyas, co-founder of LOUD Capital and Dave Hunegnaw, LOUD partner and founder of BYLINED, outlined what makes a strong pitch deck at a recent Startup Week event.
If you plan to approach an investor, “A pitch deck is essential,” Vyas says. “No investor is going to take you seriously if you have not invested time or resources into your own company, and the first thing you want to invest in is a pitch deck.”
Landing an investor is no easy task. Vyas cites statistics that find it takes an average of 40 meetings and 12 weeks to land a round of funding.
“You want make sure that your pitch deck is on point so you minimize the time you are fundraising,” he says. “Because while you’re fundraising, it’s a distraction from growing your business.”
On average, a pitch deck has 19 – 22 slides and takes an investor just 3 minutes and 44 seconds to go through. That’s 21 seconds per slide.
“I want something that’s engaging; I want something that’s fun, that catches my attention,” Vyas says.
What he doesn’t want is a “book” – the most common recurring weaknesses he says he sees in the some 80-100 decks he reviews a month. There’s a very short window of time to capture an investor’s attention.
As for what those slides should say, Vyas and Hunegnaw broke down BYLINED’s deck slide by slide, highlighting the fundamental questions each slide should answer.
Slide 1: Opening Slide
Create an engaging opening page with the business name and tagline.
Slide 2: Problem Statement
What problem is your business or service trying to fix?
“You want to illustrate a massive problem in the space that you’re serving,” Hunegnaw says.
Slide 3: Market Opportunity
What impact are you making in that market? What do you project?
“Be as bullish as you want with market opportunity,” Vyas recommends. “That’s what gets investors excited.”
Slide 4: Solution
How are you addressing that problem?
In a quick, simple way, explain how your business solves the problem.
Slide 5: Benefits
What value is your solution providing to the market?
Slide 6: Clients / Partners
Who are you working with?
This shows investors you are gaining traction, the network you’re involved with and who your business is working with.
Slide 7: Competitive Landscape
Who are your competitors?
There’s always some kind of competitor. Vyas says it’s a red flag when a business says there’s no competition – it makes it seem like a business owner hasn’t done their due diligence and research. Demonstrate to investors where your value proposition is amongst your competitors.
Slide 8: Investment Opportunity
How much money are you raising? What is your goal?
Whether seed or Series A, your business is raising money to perform a specific task. Demonstrate ‘I’m raising this much money and this is what that money is going to do.’
Slide 9: Business Model
How are you making money as a business?
Shareholders want a return. Investors, especially in the Midwest, are revenue-focused.
Slide 10: Projections
Looking at the bigger picture, where is your head at with the growth of the business?
Projections are an opportunity to show an investor how hungry your business is.
Slide 11: Team
Who are the people you are surrounding yourself with as you grow the business?
No matter what venture, the strength of the team will dictate the confidence investors will have in your company. If it’s your first venture, surround yourself with individuals that have experience and success. If no one on the team has experience, Vyas says that’s a red flag.
Slide 12: Testimonials / Press
How is your business gaining traction?
This slide demonstrates what value your service or product is providing to clients and the community, and can include links.
Slide 13: Go Out With a Bang!
Find an exciting and interesting way to summarize your business in one slide.
BYLINED opted for a checklist on their last slide – a visual representation that they had done their research; that they had already checked all the boxes an investor would be looking for.
What slides matter most?
Solution, right? Not so fast. Several other slides take prominence over the problem and solution – two things that will likely pivot over time. In Vyas’ opinion from highest to lowest importance, the slides that matter most are:
- Business model
- Market size
Advice & Additional Slides
While it may feel like there is so much more to your business than the 13 slides listed above, that key information will pique an investor’s interest. An appendix to your slide deck can provide investors a place for a deeper dive once you’ve made them curious and can include additional information like product visuals.
It is also important to do your research on the investors you are approaching.
“You want to make sure you are getting smart money, not just money from whomever,” Vyas says.
Every investor will have a different strategy, and Hunegnaw says to have that conversation, “Find what excites them, whether its market size, whether its revenue.”
That also goes for understanding how your investor might be viewing your pitch deck (and thereby will influence its design). Do they want it printed out? Are the colors and font sizes visible on paper and on a projector? Make sure the file size is sendable, and always save as a PDF to avoid formatting headaches.
The final piece of advice? Practice, practice, practice.
“Even if it’s presenting it to friends and family or colleagues, it’s critical to practice your pitch,” Hunegnaw says. The efficiency with which you can eloquently convey your message will impress investors.