Do’s and Don’ts for your Pitch Deck

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We have already established how important your Pitch Deck is. It is your way of introducing your venture and your team to potential investors.

Getting it right and making it compelling and accurate, are fundamental to establishing credibility and trust with your future stakeholders.

With that in mind, and after sifting through thousands of pitch decks over the years, here are some of the key “Do’s and Don’ts” when putting your pitch deck together.

Firstly, let’s look at the “Do’s”…

  • Before doing anything, look at examples of past successful pitch decks to get some other ideas that you may not have considered.
  • Be smart about the number of slides in the deck. Are they all really necessary? Generally, 15-20 slides is ample. Remember, you can always place further due diligence materials in a Data Room for investors to peruse at a later time.
  • Have one idea per slide. Make it easy to read and understand that the objective of your deck is to get investors believing in your project and wanting to hear more from you and get under the bonnet of the opportunity, by delving into your Data Room.
  • Tell your story. Headings should read as a continuous narrative and your pitch deck should clearly outline your roadmap.
  • Have a definite and identifiable pain-point that you are solving and show how you are solving it. Your deck needs to resonate with your potential investors.
  • Demonstrate your product in an exciting way – a short product demonstration video can help here.
  • Spend time identifying your customer profile and back this up with robust data. Explain the competitive landscape and outline your USP’s. Whatever you do, do not expect investors to know your market!
  • Have a clear view on your pipeline and your cash flow over the next 12 months. Have a really good grasp of your key metrics/KPI’s and how these relate to your financials, your roadmap and the narrative you are building.
  • Be clear on your investment criteria. Are you looking for passive investors or strategic investors? What sort of expertise are you looking for from your investors?
  • Show what your team has done previously and how their background, education and experience are relevant to what you are doing. Investors buy into good people as much as, if not more than they buy into good ideas.
  • Demonstrate that you are not afraid, and indeed extremely enthusiastic, to hire better people than you.
  • Know exactly how much money you need to raise, clearly outlining your use of funds, runway and key milestone to get to your next funding event.
  • Before you release it to the investment world, send it to your friends and ask them to summarise what you are trying to say. Get their feedback and make any necessary adjustments.

Now to the common mistakes people make when compiling their deck. Don’t…

  • Start with your design before you have finalised your research and copy to get your story across.
  • Make the deck too text-heavy or fall into the trap of providing excessive explanations.
  • Use irrelevant photos, diagrams and graphics without informative titles and captions.
  • Use out-of-date figures or statistics.
  • Use screenshots, without explaining what they are and certainly if they are not relevant to the story.
  • Overcomplicate it – do your research, find evidence and statistics to back your story up, and lay your thoughts down clearly and logically.
  • Have a rigid timeline for your fundraising process — you will raise the funds when you raise the funds!
  • Pretend your proposition is unique if it is not! It is natural to have competitors – indeed they justify the reason for your existence in most cases. There is no point hiding from that fact. Instead, focus on what makes you different.
  • Embellish your numbers, including market size and so forth. Be very specific and accurate with your target market and your numbers.
  • Tell potential shareholders you have big name investors or terms sheets on the table, unless they are signed! A deal is not a deal until the ink is dry and the money is in the bank!
  • The same goes with customer/user traction. Be honest in your numbers or you will lose trust and investors will walk away.
  • Ask for too much money! Think of your funding requirement as a ratio of capital vs current traction and what is needed to get the business to its next funding round. By outlining your total funding plan and asking for less funds in the early rounds, you will impress investors and create competition amongst them.

Trust and credibility can be won and lost in your pitch deck. Follow these guidelines and you will keep things simple, factual, logical and succinct – all vital to ensuring a compelling and successful pitch deck.

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