There is an overwhelming amount of information about what it takes to make a “successful” pitch deck. With the help of three experts, we can help you wade through all the disinformation on what investors respond to. We’ll cover common misconceptions, how to prioritize, what makes a compelling presentation, and the most frequent mistakes we’ve seen.
The information that follows was pulled from the Austin Startup Week panel Gladiator Consulting moderated called “MythBusters – Pitch Deck Edition.” Continue reading to learn what our experts have to say.
This article features three experts:
Carolyn Jenkins: Serial Entrepreneur and C-Suite Consultant
Kurt Wilkin: Managing Partner of Bee Cave Capital
Jim Brown: Founder of Area Growth Partners
You should pitch to anyone that will take a meeting.
“I’ll give you two perspectives. The first one why this is a myth is because you need to know your audience. Not every investor is a fit for your business. If you’re a SAAS software company, for example, you’re not a fit for a CPG VC. So you’re wasting their time and you’re wasting yours.
On the flip side, you may want to get a few pitches under your belt so that you perfect your pitch before you go in front of the folks you think are great audiences. The challenge there is you may tick off some people on the way by wasting their time.”
Our suggestion is that you make sure to practice your pitch deck with “friendlies”. That’s friends, family, colleagues or peers, and other people with a personal interest in your success.
Then, when you are ready to speak with investors, make sure you do your research and choose the appropriate audience.
It doesn’t matter how your pitch deck looks as long as you have a great idea.
*laughing* “So wrong. So wrong. And in so many ways as well.”
“When you are presenting, a picture says more than a thousand words, right? We’ve all heard that. And that’s true with a pitch deck as well. You really do need to invest in someone who is going to help you do professional-looking graphics and design so that the visual tells the majority of the story very quickly. Then as you present, you can say all the words, but nobody wants you to read word for word from a slide. It’s insulting and boring.”
“I’m a busy guy so don’t dazzle me with a ton of words. If there’s a lot of words on the slide, I’m probably going to zone out on you. I like Carolyn’s idea of having some pretty pictures to paint the visual because it is a land of first impressions. But at the same time, it’s your story that you’re telling that makes the biggest impact.”
Send the pitch deck before you meet with the investor.
“Sending a pitch deck that is flexible enough to allow you to pivot and creative enough to tell a story is probably not sufficient enough as a pre-cursor. What you usually need is a one-pager or some sort of elevator pitch.”
“I’m an angel investor so I’m not going to read that anyway if I’m just being honest. Or you’re just not going to have the details and so I’m not going to know enough about your business. I’d rather you wait and tell the story in person. VCs will definitely look at the one-pager like Jim said but the pitch deck is not going to paint a full picture.”
Your pitch deck should be 10 slides or fewer.
“I prefer a shorter deck. I want to know enough about your product or service that I’m intrigued. “
“I would fairly agree that as someone that is giving a pitch you want to know your audience and know your timing. Your first pitch to anyone is really just to get the next meeting. No one’s going to open up their checkbook and write you a check for one meeting. So that first pitch has got to be short, crisp and get them interested. You might then show up to the second meeting with a much longer deck that reiterates what you’ve already said and expands on it.”
“I think that’s exactly right. I’ll borrow from a friend who is local and well known, Paul O’ Brien, one of the Co-Founders of MediaTechVentures, his view is who and why, then what, then how. Most companies get that wrong. They want to go straight into the what and the how. They don’t explain why it’s relevant.”
As long as the numbers look good, the story or mission don’t matter.
“Absolutely not. Anyone that has made investments knows that the numbers that you give, they’re assumptions. The investor wants to understand that YOU understand financials and that you understand what things you need to track and that you have some goals and some objectives. But none of those things are going to be achieved if you don’t have the passion, the right product-market fit, and the right team. So the financials, while important, are definitely not the most important thing.”
“I’ve never gone to a CEO or founder and scolded them because the original numbers they gave me were too conservative. Have the numbers be somewhat realistic and generally speaking, something that you can achieve. If you put up numbers make sure that you understand the economics of your business.”
You should ask for as much money as you can.
“My personal opinion, especially as a founder, is I want to stage my investments that I receive. Meaning I want to take a small enough amount to validate my product or service. Then once I prove that, I can go back and ask for another amount and then prove some other critical point. I want to do it in stages personally. That’s how I would approach it.”
“I would agree with that. When people put up a number, and I think you can do this in one slide very easily, you have to be able to put up a number that you can justify by knowing the why and what you’re going to use it for. You want to have some idea of your story arc to success and how much capital you’re going to need to raise over the life of the company. The idea of going out and raising as much as you can without any idea of how you’re going to spend it, that gets exposed fairly quickly. It’s worth doing your homework there and understanding your business.”
If you liked the advice in the above article there is a ton more in the full segment available on the Capital Factory Youtube channel or simply click through below: