Making the pitch

I’ve seen a lot of deal pitches with a lot of hair on them. I’ve also put a lot of pitches together, and fought the battle to make them clear and concise. To make my life easier, I’ve put together this simple and straightforward model for building a pitch deck:

  1. Vision: what’s your big idea, why are you doing it and why is it significant.The “Wow!” of what you’re doing should immediately come across. Get me right away for why I should be paying attention. If you don’t have this, you don’t have a pitch.
  2. Market: how big is the market and what is the pain point which you’re addressing?
  3. Product or service: what are you selling and why is it different?
  4. Go to market: who are you going to sell to, and how?
  5. Business model: how do you make money?
  6. Competition: including closest replacements or alternatives, and barriers to entry
  7. Team: who are the founders? Be open about any key missing elements of the team
  8. Timeline: where are you at, and what are your plans?
  9. Fund raising: how much do you want to raise and to accomplish what?
  10. Exit: who are you going to sell to, and why? Please don’t tell me you’re going to do an IPO.

Ten slides. That’s it. Short bullet points. If I can read everything I need to know in the deck, then I don’t need you.

After three or four pitches, you’ll know the common objections to your idea. Address the consistent ones, but don’t be tempted to answer every question in the deck, creating a monstrosity. Your audience (me) wants to feel smart by coming up with objections, and you’ll look smart by being able to respond.

 

Comments

  1. Strong article. Really like the conciseness of the deck and delivery. And never underestimate the value of having the deck spark great discussion to address open areas and any objections–that is your time to shine as a founder who knows his or her idea.

  2. Bill, your advice is on the mark and should give any entrepreneur a good starting point. Too often investor decks are overloaded with endless slides and material. It can be a challenge to condense the most relevant material down to a few easy to follow slides, but it shows that you know your material and your business well.

    I'd add the following advice for anyone looking to raise capital. First, understand the process. If you don't then find someone who does and get their advice and coaching.

    Then practice. Find friends or colleagues that will give you honest, constructive and relevant feedback. Don't try out your new pitch for the first time on your most promising investor prospect.

    Also, many entrepreneurs seem so excited to make a pitch that they make it a one way communication. The best pitches involve and engage the audience and invite questions. Along these lines, know your audience. Make sure what you are selling is what they are interested in buying. Too often I see entrepreneurs trying to pitch a start up idea to a later stage investor. It pays to do your homework. The worst case isn't that you'll waste your time, the worst case is you'll educate an investor who has an interest in your competitor.

    Try to use graphics and pics and even video when appropriate to tell your story. For companies that have some traction it can also be great to add to your outline some level of customer testimonial or third party validation. Of course you are going to say great things about your idea, product and team… it can be more compelling when you have a customer or third party singing your praises.

    Finally, have fun and enjoy the process. A good investor will add much more value than their capital. You should be selective about who you let invest in your deal just as good investors are picky about investing in only the best deals.

  3. Very clean approach; nicely done!

    I think the whole point of the pitch deck is to create intrigue, so it does not need to answer every question. Leaving some mystery can be a good thing, so long as the basics are in place. This one article could save every entrepreneur many hours of work, and greatly improve their chances of a follow-up meeting.

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