Taking a startup business to the next level can be difficult for founders. And it often involves pitching the business to potential investors in an attempt to raise the necessary funds that are needed to drive the company’s continued growth and expansion.
One of the tools that is essential for landing investment from private equity, venture capital or angel investors is the pitch deck – which gives investors a window into the company, it’s business, the market in which it operates and its potential for growth and success into the future. But investors see a lot of pitch decks. How can the founder of a small, entrepreneurial startup company make a pitch deck that stands out?
According to William Dyess of the Dyess Group, a company that helps founders build pitch decks that raise millions in investment dollars, it’s all about constructing a narrative flow, “…that induces and compels the reader to take the desired action.”
Mr. Dyess has analyzed and constructed incredibly successful pitch decks, and he recently shared three tips that companies utilizing the Sequoia Pitch Template should keep in mind when authoring the document that could mean the difference between getting necessary funding or doing without:
Tip #1: Make sure people understand what you do, as quickly as possible (don’t waste your title slide!)
We usually don’t hear about what the product or service does until the fifth slide.
The single most important thing you can do in your deck is to make sure people understand what you do. It needs to be in layman’s terms — meaning without using a lot of “marketing speak” and it needs to happen immediately.
When an investor, or any audience, clearly understands what you do, it provides much-needed context to the rest of your story. The following is a front slide example from a deck The Dyess Group created for its client company Guac:
Here is another example illustrating how a very small amount of information immediately helps the reader (e.g., investor, partner, customer) orient themselves properly for the rest of the deck. This is for our customer, Socrates:
By putting an easy-to-understand description of the company and what it does on the title slide, the audience has context early on and doesn’t have to wait until the fifth slide to get the most basic information about the company.
Tip #2: Find ways to combine key information into your narrative to make your deck more concise
Roughly 20 percent of the decks we review have the “Market Size” slide as one of the first three slides. And it almost always says one thing…the market is big. Unfortunately, putting this information so early is often disruptive to an effective narrative flow.
Although Market Size is important and relevant, it is tangential information that can be a distraction at odds with understanding the opportunity. An alternative technique for getting attention to the size of the market is to combine the information with more important aspects of the narrative flow.
Tip #3: Combine traction and the solution to drive conviction to invest early
Only 15 percent of the decks we review feature customer referrals or actual market traction in the first three slides. A solution without traction is really just an idea. You haven’t proven that you’ve solved anything.
You want to eliminate as much risk from your offering as early as possible by enhancing the reader’s conviction. Introducing your product without any supporting traction in the same slide, or soon thereafter, doesn’t help the reader understand how far you’ve come in solving your problem. In-line with embedding statistics into the narrative, consider including some of the following along with your product:
- Customer Testimonials
- Success Rates
- Total Users
- Growth Rates