As the above image depicts, the failure rate of startups is very high and for a variety of reasons.
4M Performance bases its business philosophy on the four cornerstones required by any business to accelerate revenues and expand market reach – Management (team building and development) Marketing (branding and promotion), Money (funding), Momentum (scaling).
To address the Money (funding) requisite requires that management craft a pitch deck (a visual presentation) which tells a story about the company and where it is going. However, what you include and how you assemble the components of that ‘pitch’ will determine whether or not the funding is acquired.
Here’s How to Do It
The best pitch decks are designed using a crescendo approach. By that I mean it builds up to the point where you are requesting the funding – how much, when needed, and how it will be applied. And you need two versions: one for presenting and one for emailing.
The presentation one has slides with graphics and images and few words – because you are narrating this presentation. It is an adjunct piece to a live presentation. The email version is one that can be interpreted on its own – so more words are required in the deck, and usually more slides.
Key Takeaway: Make sure you include contact information and list every possible way of getting in touch with key team members. This must be on the very first slide.
Now, Let’s Reach That All Important Crescendo.
After the company introduction slide with name and logo (yes you should have one at this point) along with contact information, the following major points should be covered in no more than 15-18 slides that can be delivered in 10-15 minutes or less.
- The Problem Being Solved. A describe the market ‘pain point’ and how you plan to solve it – the concept and its key elements.
- Product Overview: Detail your product or service. Who is your target market and why it is compelling for them to purchase.
- The Team: Who are the major players: founders, team members, key advisors, along with their backgrounds and expertise.
- The Market: Size, growth potential, and segmentation.
- Competition: Who are they? Their competitive features against your competitive value propositions
- Go-to-market Strategy. How will you sell your product – distribution and logistics.
- Stage of Development: How far along is the product/service developed. How do you intend to acquire customers and are you in any partner relationships.
- Failure Risks and Challenges: What can go wrong and how are you going manage potential obstacles.
- Financial Statements/Projections: How much time and money will it take to break-even. What will be the initial monthly expense run-rate. Have at least a three (or better, five) year projection in a worst, mid-case, best case ‘looks’ with key assumptions.
- Exit Options/Strategies: Who are likely buyers, what would be their rationale for purchase, and comparable valuation multiples.
- Funding: How much? How it is going to be used. In what increments it will be supplied, for example, based upon milestones to be hit and if a second round will be required.
Key Takeaway: Doing more than the above is not going to make your pitch more effective or persuasive. If fact, it may be detrimental if you can’t get through it in a reasonable amount of time. Any details the investors want will come out in Q&A or during (hopefully) follow up meetings.
I should note that complicated graphics or animations should be avoided, as should, videos. Also avoid uncommonly used presentation programs. Stick with PowerPoint or Google Slides which can be presented on just about any video projector and easily convert to a PDF file for email attachment.
For a first pitch, product demos are very iffy and may lead to more trouble than they provide.
Key Takeaway: Screen sizes vary so no small fonts and coloring makes a difference. Make sure your slides are the right ‘color’ for the product/service you’re pitching. Lastly, make sure you have multiple flash stick copies for handout, and bring your own remote.
Now – get to work on developing that ‘perfect’ pitch!