Today we are helping you through the hurdles in creating the perfect pitch deck, with true advice from actual Nordic investors from Innoventure, FinBan, Galora and Katapult.
At the end of this post you will find TheHub.io’s custom made pitch deck template ready for you to download and adjust to your own business!
Always keep in mind that investors receive loads of pitch decks every day and go through a lot of pitches. Through constant outreaches on email, social media and even to the extent of being physically stopped on the streets. So, you do want to stand out from the crowd. In a good way.
To be realistic, the perfect pitch deck doesn’t exist since investors, venture capitalists etc. look for different things when investing. Depending on the stage of your company (early-stage, seed-stage etc.) the focus changes in many aspects. Are you in the idea-phase, do you have an MVP version, have you shown promising sales yet? Also, investors have different backgrounds and their expertise varies a lot. This generally means that you want to make sure to have done your homework before pitching to an investor. Make an in-depth due diligence to better understand your investors and their previous investments. Is the investor the best match for your start-up? Will the investor be able to provide the advice your company needs? This will help you design your pitch deck to the individual investor and help steal some of the attention.
An investor pitch deck is the deck you use to present your startup to the investor. According to the majority of investors, approximately 10 slides is an optimal length for a pitch deck. They also enjoy seeing a good balance of written text with imagery that communicates your product idea and business model concisely.
On the other hand, you can send it out to the investors to read for themselves beforehand. This deck can be a little longer, even up to 20 slides, as long as you make sure the investor can skim the main points through in a few minutes.
Either way the rule of thumb is to not make your deck into a novel. The important part is not the number of slides but how intuitive and cohesive your content is.
It is important to balance your visual content with your written content: find the best ways to communicate different aspects of your pitch.
In this blog post we introduce the top 3 things investors look for in a pitch, and their best tips to compiling your next deck pitch deck.
1st Base: Feature the strengths of your team members
Often in early-stage start-up companies, you don’t have all the numbers yet to show exact estimates/projections for profitable growth. This means the investor is more likely to invest in the people behind the project. Does the team have what it takes to meet the required milestones?
A start-up is as strong as its core team. This is no secret when looking at the ex-Google Founder of Pinterest or ex-Oracle founder of SalesForce.
According to the investors, the key is not to only have the right skills and experience within the team – but complementary ones. It is very much a chemistry thing. Coachability is something all investors look for when investing in a start-up. A team needs to have sufficient experience and competencies in their domain, so that all key bases are covered to ensure a maximized collective efficiency.
Some of the most important things to cover are how mission-driven and passionate the team is, how their personalities and their competencies fit together as well as their ability to attract more talent.
No great idea ever succeeded without an amazing team backing it. The team is everything in start-ups, especially in the seed-stage. As earlier mentioned, very early investments are almost fully team investments. When investors speak to founders, they seek to understand their background, their work ethic, their motivation and ambition level.
One of the investors we spoke to also noted that having the core tech development or intellectual development outsourced would be a huge red flag. It is a great strength to have the most important competencies in-house. So if you want to create the next big digital company based on software development with heavy focus on AI – make sure at least one of you is an experienced software developer who is able to carry the load. Investors do not invest in words and dreams. But what hopefully could give a satisfactory internal rate of return (IRR) of 25% over 5 years.
Furthermore, the investors encourage you to list not only your founding team or employees in your deck, but also the possible advisors, mentors or investors you already have onboard.
2nd Base: Define a real, clear problem – and a unique solution.
This is the thing all investors we talked to emphasized: it is not enough to have a cool idea. You need to have a real, clear problem you’ve identified and a unique way to solve it. A product or service can look and sound great! But it is no secret that it makes it way easier if it actually solves a real urging problem.
This also means doing your market research right, and knowing what is it that makes you unique in relation to your competition. And do not even bother thinking you have no competition. There is always competition. You just have to know who and where. Do the work required in market research. Understanding your market is fundamental in building a business idea from the bottom. Is there really a need & demand?
Resources for market research
As the lean start-up life goes. Resources are scarce pre funding. But thankfully the digital age has brought a long list of cheap, if not even free, tools to help us do market research. Even on a more in-depth level. Here are two great tools that every start-up should consider utilizing:
- A great tool that is actually free of charge is Google’s Think with Google that provides quality market insights and multiple tools to analyze consumer behavior, competitive analysis etc.
- One of the most proven methods in market research is questionnaires. Often underestimated, the questionnaire gives you response directly from the consumer. With digital tools such as SurveyMonkey, you can access a global group of consumers with your questionnaires with multiple solutions that fits your need to gain better market understanding.
3rd base: Get Your Specs Right
We cannot emphasize this enough: the figures matter. Really think through how much you ask and what is your argumentation for it – what are you going to use it for and what is your valuation? Investors are looking to understand what stage you are in and the minimum amount of capital that will help get you to the next. Too big investments result in comfortability and overspending which the investors are not looking for – they want you to be focused on growing as fast as possible without any unnecessary distractions. So to be clear, seek only the capital needed to get you to the next stage or inflection point.
Investors take a high risk on every pre-profit start-up, so you want to make sure that you clarify what the requested capital will be invested in and how it will help the company get to that next stage and potentially become a sustainable business. Some investors are even interested in seeing your considerations regarding future exit strategy to see your thoughts on how you’ve planned on getting the investors their money back and even more.
Know what you’re worth! When evaluating your business don’t evaluate the potential and don’t overestimate. You need to evaluate your business where it is right now. You might think that your idea is a bullet proof, right-in-the-bullseye business that without a doubt will be the next big thing. But that potential hasn’t been unlocked yet and for that to happen you are very much dependent on investors to get you there.
If you haven’t shown promising sales yet and haven’t put in the effort to get deal agreements on the board, don’t come asking for two million dollars for 2,5% of the business despite the idea and potential sounding cool. Business has always been about relationships. Be humble, realistic and professional when engaging with investors.
Clear, concise communication is key. Gather feedback and optimize. In some cases the the first pitch will lead to investment, but in most cases you will have to do your pitch quite a bit. That is why it is important that you seek feedback and you implement changes to align with what the investors are looking for. Remember that some focal points can subjectively vary from investor to investor.
When you step into pitch for the first time, remember to have some excerpts of your deck ready: e.g. Go to Market strategy, financial model, business model. Not having the documents ready can reflect poorly on you. And remember, there is no need to be deadly nervous. Most investors were once entrepreneurs, so they have literally been where you stand.
Remember, it’s usually a lot of money you are asking for, so your aim for the pitch is not only to catch the attention and interest, but to make the investor feel comfortable investing in you when handing over the pile of cash.
We at TheHub.io have made a complete pitch deck template to get you off the brakes right away. Have a look for yourself and adjust it to make it your own and go get that investment!