Are you looking to raise money?
Whether you’re a pre-seed, seed, or Series A startup, we can all agree that it is so much easier to talk to investors when they ‘get’ what it is that your company does. As an entrepreneur, you will have to pitch your company often. A poorly executed pitch can leave prospective investors unconvinced, even if you do have an incredible product.
That said, how you present your company is incredibly important and that begins with your pitch deck — it’s the first touchpoint for prospective investors and for better or worse it sets the tone for how your company will likely be perceived . A great pitch deck is one that tells a story that is both clear and concise. [more on this notion of storytelling shortly]
At Oui Capital, we’ve received and reviewed hundreds of pitch decks and see a lot of the same mistakes being repeated. So, in an effort to help you put your best foot forward and make our lives a tad bit easier, we have put together an overview of how to build a great pitch deck.
As we go through the key components of an effective pitch deck, we want you to remember that It’s not just about the slides, but the story.
Let’s Get started….
The Structure of Your Story
Your cover page
For your opening slide, you want to capture the audience’s interest so they pay attention. To capture that attention and to help them remember you, always open your pitch with the single most memorable line about your startup or business.
This could be a tagline or a short description of your Company. Which would come after your:
- Company’s Name
- Logo; and
The Need or Problem
Your next slide should discuss the problem that needs to be solved.
In this slide, discuss what pain points you have identified and the affected demographic(s).
In this section, try to:
- Underline the problems that your target audience faces and how they are negatively impacted. (i.e. time, money, frustration)
- It usually starts with a shift! Articulate succinctly what has changed and why the current solutions do not work.
Through this, you provide context for why the problem needs to be solved.
After setting up the problem, it is time to present the solution.
In your solution, talk about the company’s unique and compelling value proposition. Your solution should present a deep understanding of your customer’s wants and needs.
More specifically, Use cases — ‘narrative’ is important here. A great way to think of this is clarity of purpose, spend time in articulating a strong narrative. It helps to use actual examples that people can relate to, this way you increase the likelihood that your solution resonates with your prospective investors.
Another key thing to communicate on this slide, is that the company is in fact scalable. With this in mind, you should show that 1) your product(s) or service(s) can generate additional value through continued development; and 2) your company has a growable customer base.
How It Works
Drive home your product’s value by making sure your audience understands what your product or service does.
Create a 1–2 min demo showing off your solution — it could be a short film, screenshots, a ScreenFlow or even a mock-up. Guide prospective investors through the first-time user experience and highlight 4–5 of the standout features. Make us go wow — but don’t overwhelm us with the details.
Now that you’ve talked about your product or service, this next slide should layout how your business generates revenue.
Prospective investors want to see a clear path towards profitability, as it increases the likelihood that they receive a return on their investment. Business models should be broken down by product/ service with pricing details — by tiers and or volume. As you put this information together, consider how it compares to other companies in the industry, such analysis will help your reader gain better context.
For your traction slide, you need to answer the question — What has your company accomplished to date?
You would also need to emphasise the significant milestones you’ve hit in: funding, product, users, downloads, revenue, growth, endorsements, partnerships, etc. since launch or beta. If you are yet to launch, then talk about your sign-up or proof-of-concept studies. The more mature the company is, the more metrics you will be expected to provide.
When weighing in on your market opportunity, there are two ways to go:
Top-down and bottom-up.
The top-down approach determines the total market and estimates your possible share of it. The bottom-up method ascertains the market for similar products, the number sold, and what percentage of those sales could be yours.
Either way, you go, it is crucial to highlight your market.
Two key things to consider as you go about estimating your market:
- Don’t conflate addressable and/or serviceable addressable with obtainable:
- Total addressable market (total demand in market for your product/service)
- Serviceable available market (segment of total demand targeted by your product/service)
- Serviceable obtainable market ( the portion of the segment demand you can realistically obtain)
2. Cite sources for key assumptions, and be prepared to defend your estimates — a high-level build-up of the calculations provides more transparency into how you, the founder see the market opportunity.
An important question asked at almost every pitch meeting is: “Are there other companies that provide/offer similar services or products?”
The question usually creates the most friction and if not answered correctly, it gives off the impression that the founder lacks awareness. The competition slide presents an opportunity to a) demonstrate an understanding of the competitive landscape, and b) emphasise how you intend to set your company apart from the crowd.
The team is presumably one of the most relevant slides in any pitch deck. Why? prospective investors want to know who is running the company and what makes them uniquely qualified.
This is particularly important if you are working on a complex or regulated problem. Having expertise in house to tackle these problems is crucial.
So when discussing your team, a few things of interest are:
- How many founders?
- Is there a technical co-founder?
- How long have you known each other?
- Is everyone working full time?
- What is the equity split among the founders?
We’ve got a sense of your company’s past and present, but where is this going in the future? Here we are looking to you, the founder to articulate product testing and launch timelines, customer and revenue growth targets. This is what your investors will measure you against in board meetings after you complete the raise.
What do you want from prospective investors? This is where you talk about how much you are looking to raise, and why. Funding the next stage of growth? Specify how the funds will be allocated by function, e.g sales, product development, marketing. This should align with your roadmap.
All that said, creating a great pitch deck is hard work — trust us, we know (VCs make pitches too, to prospective limited partners). For the best results, we recommend getting feedback on your braintrust and iterating accordingly. It goes without saying, you should not be soliciting prospective investors using the first draft of your pitch deck.
When you are done perfecting your pitch deck, be sure to send it to us in PDF format, from your company email address 😉.