A pitch deck is the crucial document used by startups and SMEs to encapsulate their business idea, and explain why it’s worth investing in. In any case, they’re worth having on file as an effective communication tool, but they become most important in the pursuit of funding.
Pitch decks are fundamental in making your case to investors, so they can hold an enormous amount of power!
Typically, pitch decks consist of between 10 to 20 slides. Before delving into the specific points of what to include in your pitch deck, here are some general tips to keep in mind:
👉🏽 Keep it concise.
Resist the urge to overload your pitch deck with information, a long background story, and irrelevant numbers. This can be difficult to stick to, considering that entrepreneurs are (hopefully) very passionate about their businesses. The way to get round this is to ask an impartial party to read over your pitch deck, and ensure that all content is straightforward, clearly explained, and generally jargon-free. In addition, infographics are an effective tool for presenting information in a digestible way.
👉🏽 Find the balance between story and statistics.
A panel of investors are looking to be engaged and excited! A list of facts and metrics – no matter how well-researched – could fail to have a lasting impact if not integrated with a compelling narrative. And vice versa! Entrepreneurs should provide stories about their companies that investors will find relatable, whilst justifying their aims with water-tight statistics.
👉🏽 Make sure your pitch deck has the power to stand-alone.
Your pitch deck should be totally sufficient without the input of a presenter. Why? Investors see a high number of pitches every week, so to make a final decision, they’re likely to look back at pitch decks on file. Therefore, vital information cannot be left out of a pitch deck and supplemented by the presenter. Of course, it’s important for presenters to add value, build rapport with the investors, and showcase themselves as a founder, but the pitch deck must be able to stand on its own.
👉🏽 Keep it up to date.
Often, it takes multiple pitches to different investor groups to secure funding throughout a business’ lifecycle. Make sure your pitch deck is regularly updated with the latest information - including critical metrics and recent growth milestones - before every pitch.
Now that we’ve explained the golden rules when it comes to creating your pitch deck, let’s run through the specific areas of content that they’re supposed to address...
1. Identify the problem
Start by presenting a clear and concise problem or inconvenience that limits at least one aspect of society. This pain point should be easy to understand and relatable. Often, entrepreneurs back-up the impact of this problem with a statistic. The best pitch decks can convey a sense of urgency that comes with their problem.
2. Provide the solution
Introduce your product, process, or service as the solution to the problem you previously identified. This instantly establishes the value in what you’re offering as a business, and breaks tension by offering the opportunity for resolution.
3. Show the opportunity
Every pitch deck should incorporate how the size of the market relates to a space for potential opportunity. These are crucial metrics, as this is your chance to convey a sense of FOMO to the investor panel. You want to use credible sources to illustrate an unmissable business opportunity that investors will later regret not getting on board with.
Conducting market research can be complex for beginners. You can use the help of specialist agencies to help build out your pitch deck, however it’s useful to have a basic understanding of the three following metrics for describing your target market:
Total Addressable Market (TAM) - the total market demand for a product, process, or service. TAM is the maximum amount of revenue a business can generate by selling their product or service in a specific market. Total addressable market is most useful for businesses to objectively estimate a specific market’s potential for growth.
Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM) - Limitations of your business model (such as specialisation or geographic limitations) mean that you will not likely be able to sell to your TAM. Serviceable addressable market is most useful for businesses to objectively estimate the portion of the market they can acquire.
Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) – Again, you most likely won’t be able to capture 100% of your SAM. Even with just one competitor, it would still be hugely challenging to motivate an entire market to exclusively buy your offering. Measuring your SOM is crucial in determining how many customers would realistically benefit from buying your product, process, or service. SOM is most useful for identifying short-term growth targets.
4. Business Model
By now you’ve introduced a problem, and how your product, process, or service offers a solution. Now’s the time to explain how your business is going to operate, and importantly – how you’re going to make money.
How are you going to acquire customers and generate revenue? What’s your pricing strategy? What are your sales and distribution plans? Keep in mind that business models can undergo change throughout a business’ lifecycle, so be open to new ideas and new methods of monetisation.
The overarching structure of a great business plan should address three key areas:
Desirability – Do customers want it?
Feasibility – Can your business deliver it?
Viability – What is it worth?
Don’t shy away from talking about established players in your sector. Approach this section by giving examples of your business’ competitive advantages, and how they separate you from other companies. What are you bringing to the table that’s unique? How can you optimise aspects such as customer experience and profitability?
6. Team Profile
Proving that you’re building a scalable team is a critical aspect of your pitch deck. Investors must believe that your team can be trusted to take their capital and generate return by executing the plans laid out.
Introduce your team members, their positions, relevant experience that qualifies them for these positions, and how, together, you constitute a multi-faceted, dynamic workforce.
Top Tip – Include professional headshots on this slide to humanise your team and show personality. Details such as these have a bigger impact than you might think!
Venture Capitalists (VCs) play a more hands-on role in your business compared to Angel and High-Net-Worth Investors, due to their larger equity share.
Should they choose to invest, they’ll work closely with your team over several years, so experience aside – you should build rapport and make the effort to come across as personable and open-minded.
How much money are you looking to raise? Don’t ball-park it, present a definitive figure – this represents that you have a clear understanding of your goals. From this, explain what you are going to do with these funds, and how it will fuel your business plan.
An additional point to consider here is is to clarify whether your business has obtained SEIS or EIS Advance Assurance. Certification of this fundraising scheme from HMRC allows potential investors to benefit from an income tax break of up to 50%, should they go ahead with the investment.
Our partners at Jump Accounting specialise in securing SEIS and EIS Advance Assurance for UK startups and SMEs, to help them attract investment. Click here to explore this service and book in a free consultation!
Finish by describing what stage your company is currently at, the traction you’ve experienced so far, such as how many clients you already have. Then, create a sense of excitement by outlining what your future roadmap looks like, and what you will be able to achieve with the investment.
For startup ventures to reach their full potential, they must nail their pitch deck.
By including the eight topics outlined above in appropriate detail and with credible support, you’ll be able to produce a pitch deck that stands a chance of winning over investors. Not only this, but a strong pitch deck also provides internal structure for your team, steering your entire workforce towards your common goals.
Here, we’ve focused purely on content, but bear in mind that design matters a great deal.
Don’t worry - you don’t need to be an expert in creative software to achieve a slick-looking pitch deck. Use PowerPoint if you aren’t familiar with Adobe InDesign/Illustrator.
Base your design off a set of cohesive branding guidelines, such as consistent typography, colour schemes, graphics, logo, and so on. You shouldn’t dress up your pitch deck to the point where focus is pulled away from text – your design should complement and emphasise your content.
Good luck with putting your pitch deck together or taking steps to improve it. Remember to let the passion for your business shine through. This is a truly exciting time!