In this short article Jose Cayasso, CEO of Slidebean shares his experience of taking an idea to realisation as a startup CEO. It’s a practical ‘been there, done that’ piece of advice useful to the would be entrepreneur, and anyone who ever has to sell an idea to a, potentially, critical audience.
Think about the last time you made a major purchase. What drove you to charge an expensive item on your credit card or write out a check for thousands, all in good faith that you would be satisfied? The main goal behind presenting your pitch deck is to get investors excited about your product and confident enough to spend on your startup.
Here are some essential tips to writing a pitch deck that will make your startup stand out and pave the way to your company’s success in today’s competitive market.
Follow a Classic Storyline Plot
Outlining a successful pitch deck means relying on a classic storyline plot: Why, how, who, the climax, and finally, the epilogue. Thinking about your pitch deck in these basic terms will allow you to get a clear idea of how to structure your deck and what to focus on.
The ‘why’ refers to the problem you’re focusing on; the ‘how’ refers to how you intend to solve it; the ‘who’ draws you to focus on describing what makes you and your team unique; the climax will explain to investors what amazing things will come out of your partnership; and the epilogue gives you the chance to reiterate your goals by making a final statement about your funding needs.
Write with 3 Key Perspectives in Mind
When you write your pitch deck, you should have three perspectives in mind: entrepreneur, investor, consumer. Writing your pitch deck from all angles will allow you to reel in investors looking to fund startups that have genuine market appeal.
A great startup begins with the consumer in mind: what is the average man, woman or child looking for today? What will make consumers’ lives easier? What will bring consumers exceptional pleasure or excitement in a new and exciting way?
Use Exciting Words and Phrases
Dry, boring language won’t get investors talking about your product. Focus on utilizing exciting language and power phrases like ‘best’, ‘latest’ and ‘proven’ that will intrigue investors and sell your startup. Color.xxx’s pitch deck stands out for its use of impressive phrases like ‘Unlike any other’ and words like ‘unbeatable’ to communicate the company’s confidence and drive.
Make Sure Your Formatting is Flawless
How your pitch deck looks plays a huge role in creating a great first impression on potential investors. You might have some fantastic ideas, great visuals and awesome diagrams and charts — but if your pitch deck doesn’t look up to snuff, your investors will struggle to take you seriously. Check out Slidebean’s presentation software to create a stunning pitch deck that will turn investors’ heads.
Focus on Metrics in Your Initial Slides
Everyone loves a great idea, especially an investor looking for his next big startup. But selling ideas alone can be tough, especially in larger markets where investors might worry about how your product will perform. That’s why it’s important to focus on metrics in your first few slides to back up your ideas.
Balance Words with Outstanding Visuals
A polished and professional pitch deck shouldn’t look like a PPT project you did in college. Scattering bullet points throughout your pitch deck is a red flag that you’re being too wordy. Visuals always make a stronger impact on your audience, and using charts and diagrams makes it easier to communicate facts and figures in a more creative way.
Keep it Simple
Remember: the average pitch deck contains between 12-20 slides, and the average person has the attention span of a goldfish (thank you, social media!). Using overly complex language and ideas may make you seem like a genius, but even the smartest high profile investor wants a clear, simple idea of what your product is, what it’s solving and how consumers can use it.
Make Your First Slide Short and Sweet
In our technology-driven society, information is now delivered at rapid speeds, and we expect to be able to get the scoop in a few sentences or less. With pitch decks, it’s no different — a drawn out initial description of your startup won’t generate interest in investors, and your pitch deck will go flying to the bottom of the pile. Instead, captivate investors right off the bat with a powerful opening statement that describes the purpose of your startup and what makes it stand out in just one sentence.
Immediately Focus on the Problem
An inventive product that drives solutions is what sells. Investors are more interested in pitch decks that emphasize how a product can solve a problem and why this problem is important enough to spend on. One of your first slides should focus on the problem your looking to solve that’s faced by society, your community or a specific demographic.
To make your pitch deck relatable, draw from real life and tell a brief story about how you came to recognize this problem and how you’ve seen it affect your community. Later, you can describe how your company will trump competitors on the market also looking to solve this problem.
Solutions, Solutions, Solutions
A product can look fantastic, but if it doesn’t offer a viable solution, investors will quickly move on. In your slides, make sure to use language that communicates to your investors that the problem you want to solve is extremely important and that your company has the most unique and profitable way to solve it. Keep it creative by using diagrams and charts to drive the point home.
Define Your Target Market
Break down your target market: how large is it? Can you describe kind of consumer who might purchase your product? Communicate how big of a problem your company is facing — the bigger the problem, the more potential for your product. For example: in 2012, ABC News found that roughly 108 million Americans are on diets. For a diet pill startup, that’s an enormous target market with a lot of potential!
It’s a no brainer why so many investors are willing to back weight loss-driven startups. The larger your market, the greater your chances of success — and failure, if you lag behind your competitors. If your startup is in a medium or large sized market, narrow your focus. Show investors how your startup is unique and will profit by appealing to a specific niche or demographic in your market.
Answer Key Questions about Finances
Financial facts and figures may not be exciting, but every successful pitch deck has them. Investors want to understand where your company’s resources are coming from and how your company currently makes money.
It’s also a good idea to focus on the pricing behind your product. How expensive is your product compared to similar products in your market? How are you delivering value to your consumers?
Stand Out Among Your Competitors
Think about every time you take a trip to the supermarket for an everyday item, like soup. What makes you choose Campbell’s over Progresso? Chances are, an advertisement you saw online, in print or on TV convinced you that Campbell’s is better than Progresso.
With tens upon hundreds or even thousands of other companies in your market, it’s essential you show investors you have a unique plan to successfully market your product. Focus on how your product delivers a unique solution to a problem.
Identify your company’s strengths and how you trump your competitors’ weaknesses. Answer the question: what proven marketing strategies will you use to generate millions in revenue?
Sell Yourself (and Your Team)
Giving your pitch deck a personalized touch is the perfect way to stand out among others fighting for the same precious funding. Give a brief background story explaining why you and your team are passionate about this startup.
Explain to investors why you’re interested in solving this problem because of how it’s affected you and your community; above all, write something that investors can personally identify with.
Highlight how outstanding your team members are and what makes them experts in their field. Give a nod to your mentors if they’re well known in your market; take notes from Intercom’s pitch deck and add photos of you and your team on your team slide.
Infusing some charisma and putting your personality into your pitch deck will help convince investors that you and your team are great people to work with.
Read Your Pitch Deck to Someone Else
You only get one shot to present your pitch deck to important investors. Sharing your pitch deck and receiving feedback is highly important. Have a colleague or mentor listen to your pitch deck, then take note of any questions or concerns they had during the revision process. Can your pitch deck be read and understood in 5 minutes or less?
Give a Realistic Prediction About Potential Earnings
Make sure to focus on creating a solid financial plan. Create a chart that explains your sales forecast and what your earnings will look like over the next 2-3 years. The key here is to not get too cocky. While it’s obvious you’re aiming to impress, one of the worst mistakes you can make is promising more than you can deliver. Investors appreciate realistic estimations.
Make it Clear About How Much You Need
While this may seem like the most painful part of the pitch deck process, it’s important to be upfront about what you’re looking to receive from your investors – and more importantly, how their cash will be spent. Present a solid outline explaining how their investment will improve your startup. Point out innovative ways you intend to use their funding to improve areas where your company is struggling.
Forbes keeps it real: 9 out of 10 startups today will fail. Yours doesn’t have to be one of them — success begins with a solid plan, and by creating a pitch deck that focuses on problem solving, looks professional and shows off your personality, you’ll be one step closer to achieving the success you’ve dreamed of.
Not sure where to begin? Check out Slidebean’s step-by-step guide on outlining your first pitch deck.