Pitch Deck Golden Rules Part 1Jan 05, 2023
As an entrepreneur, you'll rightly be looking to break every rule in the book. Go get them tiger! But if you want to raise funds, leave these ones intact…
1. Make your thinking win the day
- Investor decks are not a design challenge. You also can’t copy and paste your way to victory. Great design or mimicking a 10 year old Airbnb deck can’t mask or make up for poor thinking.
- You need to convince investors by showing them you have thought deeply about how you are going to create something valuable, compete and win.
2. Project yourelf as a visionary leader
- Share your bold vision of the world you are going to create. People are drawn to optimistic, purposeful enterprises that are planning to have a big impact.
- You have to convince investors your vision is distinctive and that you can deliver it. If you believe it, they are more likely to. So don’t be shy.
- The best way of doing this is communicating an epic purpose on your first slide and telling a clear story of how you are going to deliver it.
- Your story climaxes with how big it can get (your market slide) and what you can deliver (your financials slide).
3. Sell the investment opportunity
- Investment decks are about what you can do for investors, not what they can do for you. What success can you achieve and enjoy together?
- Investors are spoilt for choice. You don’t have to convince them your product is better for customers. Or your start-up is better than another. You have to convince them they should back you over every other opportunity before them.
- You do this with a clear investment thesis and making sure everything in your deck sells it. The key to a good thesis is finding an epic problem you are going to solve and quantifying the commercial opportunity.
4. Tell your story
- The only way to get both customers and investors flocking to your cause is to captivate them with your story. No one should be able to tell it better than you.
- Each slide has its own mini-story. Be clear what the big message you want to get across is. Use your slide titles to communicate this.
- Together your slides should form a bigger narrative, that smoothly leads the investor to the conclusion that they must invest. Get your story right before you start the content of each slide.
5. Focus on the future
- Start-ups are works in progress. The current reality of your business matters far less than the potential opportunity and what you can deliver in the near future.
- Don’t let the limitations of an early stage business constrain your ambition or selling. If your start-up has a brilliant and believable plan to dominate a market, investors will back it.
6. Tailor to your audience
- Investors are not customers. They won’t be using your solution. They may not even be sector experts.
- Tailor your messaging so it is relevant to their interests and investment patterns. The way to do this is to ditch your creds or sales deck, and create a new one based on a clear investment thesis.
- You can then take it a stage further and tailor it to individual investors. Have they invested in something similar? Can you use similar language or show synergy?
7. Make it short and high impact
- Investors would rather you gave them only 10 slides, but they will stretch to 15. Beyond this you are in danger of trying their patience.
- If you can’t generate impact in 15, what is to say you will manage to do so in a longer deck? You have to hook them immediately, tell a powerful story and then finish quickly. If you leave them wanting more, they are more likely to contact you.
8. Prove your case
- Investors are programmed to doubt every claim made in decks. Past experience has taught them to be suspicious. They have been pitched millions of claims, most of which came to nothing.
- They don’t mind – it’s part of the reality of working with highly uncertain early stage businesses.
- You must share your best thinking with whatever proof points you have. The bigger the claims you make, the more proof you need to support them. Try to find multiple data points for everything and choose the strongest. Your internal data is especially powerful if it proves your concept, business model or product hypotheses.
There are a few key themes here:
- Understand what investors want and how they operate, then give it to them
- Sell your business as an investment opportunity
- Treat investors as people, not cash machines
- Tell a short, engaging story
- Dream big but get the detail right
- Take the time needed to get it right and make sure it really convinces
- Only promise what you know you can deliver
Read Part 2 of our Pitch Deck Golden Rules
Whenever you're ready...
There are three ways we can help you:
1. Get free actionable advice in your inbox every fortnight.
2. Create a winning pitch deck within a week with our online course. It gives you the insider knowledge we learned helping start-ups that raised over $1bn.
3. Get 1:1 coaching to solve your problems. We can share our own experiences of founding, growing and selling, as well as successfully advising hundreds of other founders.