When you sit down to start building out your investment pitch deck from scratch as a new digital startup, sometimes it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’re about to embark on one of the toughest uphill battles of your life. I mean, fundraising isn’t easy. We’ve all been there and know the process can be daunting. So where do you start?
Well, to put together a killer pitch deck, you need to follow a few key best practices we’ll walk through in this article. In essence, you need to focus on telling a compelling story that people actually care about listening to. You need to keep your deck simple, concise, and highly visual. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and try to make it a two way conversation. I mean, the investors do have a say in how you move forward, after all!
We know sometimes it can be pretty tempting to try to use a pitch deck to show investors everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) you’ve been tirelessly working on. But the truth is, investors don’t usually want the long winded story. Rather, they want an extended version of the elevator pitch that will allow them to quickly see the value proposition and the potential you have to capture market share.
Rather than composing a detailed set of complex pages that live deep in the weeds of the nuts and bolts of what you’ve been working on, keep your story simple. Tell a high level enticing narrative about the problem users face and the solution you plan to bring to market. Being complex just for the sake of being complex will just make investors and key stakeholders frustrated and will make them distracted, prompting them to lose interest in your story. Focus on getting your point across in the simplest way possible.
The most important aspect of a good pitch deck is you tell a convincing story. Investors are peeling through countless decks every single day, and you want the story that you tell through your pitch deck to stand out amongst the others.
So what actually makes a story compelling? First, you need a good hook. And what makes a strong hook? You need to anchor your story in a problem that feels urgent and important. You want to tie that problem to a specific anecdote or scenario that the person viewing the deck would have likely encountered or can relate to. Then when you position the solution in the pages to follow, investors will already be invested in the scenario since you set the stage for the big finale.
When you sit down to physically construct your pitch deck, don’t try to tell your whole story immediately on slide one. Start with an enticing hook, and slowly let the audience in on what you are working on one piece at a time. Let your story incrementally unravel as the investors reviewing your deck get increasingly more bought into your idea.
Limit yourself to one key topic per slide. Don’t make your slides overly busy, flooded with verbose language and tons of bullet points. Rather, limit the amount of text on the page. This will enable you to add color to your story when you present this deck to a room full of investors. It will also allow the investors to focus on you and what you’re saying while you’re presenting rather than reading the text on the slides.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, in some cases that might just be the case! After peeling through stacks of decks each day, you really need to make your story pop to stand out from the crowd and to attract investors’ attention. One effective tactic you can use to do that is to tell your story visually.
Rather than creating a deck full of text-heavy slides, let your narrative unravel through a visual storyboard. Create images that help to show rather than tell what the problem really is that you’re trying to solve. While you may not have fully fleshed out graphics from a live prototype, do your best to try to visually mock-up your solution and focus on visually engineering the most important features you’re planning to build out. Including enticing and eye-catching graphics throughout your deck can help to hold investors’ attention and keep them engaged in your story.
Another reason you may want to keep your deck highly visual is that you will leave them wanting more. What exactly do we mean by that? Well, if investors are flipping through your deck independently, a highly visual deck will draw them in — hopefully enough so that they will invite you in for a meeting so you can fill in the details. It’s always best to leave them wanting more rather than to craft a word-heavy deck that leaves no room for the imagination.
The best practice in writing a good pitch deck is to keep the messaging crisp and concise. On average, many investors spend a little under four minutes flipping through a pitch deck. That means if you take them too far into the weeds within the scope of your deck pages, your messaging is likely to get lost. And if your messaging gets lost, so will the prospect of meeting with that investor in person.
If you get the chance to actually get into the room with an investor, you’ll have the opportunity to elaborate on the pages the investor initially flipped through. However, you might not get the opportunity to get into the room in the first place if you don’t tell a tight story. When trying to flesh out what you need to include versus exclude in your deck, focus on telling a fairly high level story with just enough detail to show investors you’ve done your diligence and really understand the market you’re trying to enter and the problem you’re trying to solve. When you actually get into the room with investors, you’ll have plenty of time for them to ask you questions that will allow you to dive further into the nuts and bolts of the solution you’re working to build out.
While investors may flip through some iteration of your pitch deck before you have the chance to present your pitch to them in the room, you need to design your pitch deck with the intent of presenting it live in mind. When doing so, you’ll want to tell the story in a way that leaves room for investor engagement and sparks discussion throughout the presentation.
One way to do this is through starting with a hook you think the people in the room will be able to relate to. This will make them feel personally invested in the problem you are trying to solve, which will set them up to be an active participant in the discussion right from the get-go. Rather than standing up in front of the room flying through your deck while the investors fall asleep at the table, try to make it a two-way conversation as much as possible. This will give you the chance to increase investor buy-in at the point in the presentation when the investors are still trying to assess how they feel about your product or service idea. It will also make the conversation feel more casual, which will make the investors think you are a down-to-earth person who will be easy to work with if they decide to move forward with the investment.
So, once you have a killer pitch deck in hand that you’ve built following these best practices, what should you do next? Well, first, you may want to send it to a few friendly reviewers to flip through to give you some feedback. Once you work through any edits, you should start building out a targeted list of investors that typically fund similar products at your stage of venture development. Then, you’ll want to navigate actually reaching out to these investors to initiate the conversation, which we’ll address in a later post.
In the meantime, if you need some help building your pitch deck from scratch, optimizing your pitch deck, or building out a list of targeted investors, we’re here for you! Our audience and revenue team at Camber Creative is here to help you prepare your full set of materials for venture fundraising to help you get your venture off the ground.