If you are a seed or an early-stage startup entrepreneur looking to raise money, your pitch deck is your biggest weapon. It can be highly crucial in making or breaking a deal.
But you wonder how important is losing out one deal? Studies show most startups fail to raise money despite desperate measures. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.
There is a tremendous pressure on you to “raise money faster” to survive the apocalyptic 18 months period of your startup’s journey. So yes, every single opportunity to capture an investor’s attention is a big deal.
Again, investors are not your typical busy business people. They are insanely busy individuals. And inundated with pitches all around the year.
“A typical startup investor spends an average of 3 minutes and 44 seconds on each pitch deck, according to a study published recently.”
So, it’s time you get real and make sure you are ready to seal the deal in under 4 minutes. A big part of that effort is ensuring your pitch deck blows their minds off. You can’t aim for “just good” when your competitors are pushing for “insanely great”. Let’s take a shot at greatness. Here’s how you can re-think your pitch deck:
1. Stories > Slides
A good pitch is a deck but a great pitch is always a story. Stories help you communicate on an emotional front. Statistics are a rational side to the pitch but never ignore the emotional connect. Most investors use their “gut” as much as their “head” to make decisions. No matter how big or small the stage is, always bet on putting on a great show. Like a magician. Like Al Gore. Like Steve Jobs.
An image from the iconic presentation “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore (2008)
Steve Job’s world famous trick —”One more thing” at the end of every keynote
2. Everybody says more and shows less. Don’t be everybody.
One of the most annoying attributes of a devastating pitch deck is the lack of clarity and abundance of clutter. Most founders unfortunately and inadvertently lean towards adding more and more bullet points to prove a point. A great argument is usually always a “clean” argument. Sharp as a tool. Straight to the point. You don’t need to print your entire speech on the slide and read it from there. Make your slides look artful, invoking curiosity yet driving the point home.
Fill your deck with impeccable visuals and let the visuals do the talking. You simply orchestrate and take questions. That’s how it’s done.
An example of slides staying clean and creating curiosity. We designed these for a client in the gaming industry.
3. People sense care.
Lastly, when you actually put in the extra hours and carefully design every slide, it shows that you care. And investors, like most people, can sense care.
It speaks volumes about your resolve and commitment to greatness. It gives them the faith that you will “deliver” stunning results with your company. It makes you like-able, charming and compelling. Most importantly, distinct. In a world of “me-toos”, you will stand tall as “different”.
If you don’t have the time or the creative chops to design great presentations, be honest about it and get help. There are tons of great designers who’d love to share their gifts and help you rock. (We’re one.)
An example of a stunning canvas we designed for a client’s pitch deck
Remember at an early stage, they say the investors are betting on the jockey (you!) and not really the horse (your startup). So make them fall for you.
KP is a startup storyteller, a design advocate and the cofounder of BICAD. BICAD’s mighty clients have won 1st prizes at SXSW, 36|86, Rise of the Rest, World Prezi Challenge and impressed investors at conferences like CES and Venture Atlanta. They love to help great startups close great deals. If you one of them? Let them know.