John Auckland, crowdfunding specialist and founder of TribeFirst, a global crowdfunding communications agency, shares his five stages to creating a funding pitch deck to get you to the 'yes' you want to hear from an investor.
There are lots of opinions on what makes a good pitch deck, much of it misguided. This article takes my experience of successfully funding around 50 companies and combines this knowledge with research completed by DocSend to find the perfect formula for an engaging, compelling and ultimately easy to digest deck.
1. Create more than one deck
The first misconception is that you should have just one deck. As a bare minimum you should prepare three different documents before you start reaching out to investors:
2. Put your deck together in the right order
Primarily, it’s important that you get the investor deck in the right order. Rather than employing guesswork, you can build your deck around a DocSend/Harvard Business School study into 200 startups that completed their Seed or Series A rounds. This study tracked the effectiveness of these 200 decks, and arrived at the following as an optimised order in which to put your slides:
1. The purpose - i.e. a summary of what you do and why they should care.
2. The problem - the problem you’re solving, or more accurately, the market opportunity you’re meeting.
3. The solution - how your solution is uniquely placed in the market to solve this problem.
4. Why now? - why is this urgent now?
5. Market - a deeper dive into the size of the market, its trends and your potential penetration.
6. Competition - who else is tackling this problem? Make sure you do extensive research because if your investor finds a competitor you missed, it’s a surefire way of them exiting the opportunity.
7. Product - a deeper dive into the product and any sales you’ve made so far.
8. Business model - how do you make money now? How do you make it in the future? How do you market your product/services and how do those costs fit into the overall model?
9. Team - show how every team member is relevant, and if they don’t add value take them out.
10. Financials - a financial summary, not ten pages of your entire financial model.
3. Tell a story
Investors are people, and the final decision as to whether they should invest is ultimately an emotional one. People relate to stories and narratives. They provide so much more flavour and texture to your pitch, which helps the investor form an opinion about you.
4. Make it about them, not about you
Your pitch documents are essentially marketing materials, and even experienced marketers make the mistake of talking from their perspective rather than the customer’s (in your case the investor). Here are some tips to help you deploy more empathy in your writing:
Finally, do your research on the investor you’re meeting with and personalise your materials accordingly. It’s amazing how much you can find out from LinkedIn. If they seem like the type who invests more on a gut feeling, then put your team slides and backstory at the start. If they come across as more analytical, or are known for having a scoring system for appraising new investment opportunities, focus more on the numbers, statistics and evidence.
If you follow these five steps then your chances of successfully finding an investor will increase.
John Auckland is a crowdfunding specialist and founder of TribeFirst, a global crowdfunding communications agency that has helped raise in excess of £14.5m for over 50 companies on platforms such as Crowdcube, Seedrs, Indiegogo and Kickstarter – with a greater than 90% success rate.
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