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How to Craft an Effective Investor Pitch Deck

Pitch deck – A visual narrative D

When it comes to convincing new investors to get onboard a unique value proposition, the pitch deck is often a differentiating tool that stands between founders and their next round of much needed capital injection. The pitch deck is an important visual device that helps start-ups set the right tone for their product or service. As such, founders who can construct a compelling pitch deck often have a head start with VCs and angel investors in their process.  

Expressing your company’s story, vision, and value proposition in a compact slide deck is no easy task. Here are our tips on creating an engaging, informative slide deck that grabs the attention of investors and delivers the convincing numbers that get you funded.

  1. Framing the pitch

A deck that stands out from the rest will often provide a summary that highlights the key points in the entire pitch. This segment serves one key purpose – to invoke curiosity so that investors want to listen on. This should not be a space to solely repeat subsequent slides, but instead, be a teaser to outline the attractiveness of the business model and display enticing metrics that investors want to see. This slide can briefly state the problem and how your company is addressing it, followed by any significant data to prove business traction, and finally state the ask amount required, which is ultimately the key message for the pitch. 

Recommended slide count: 1 slide  

  1. Presenting your Problem 

The first order of business will have to be the investment thesis. When it comes to framing the thesis, the problem-solution approach is your bread and butter. Often, investors measure a problem in two ways:

  1. pain level experienced by consumers
  2. frequency of occurrence. 

The slide should express the inconvenience faced by consumers due to ineffective current solutions and the consequences of leaving the problem unaddressed. Present market research to emphasise the scale and persistence of the problem.

Good to include:

  • User Personas
  • Actual user feedback
  • Summary of gaps in existing solutions
Presenting Your Problem

Recommended slide count: 1 slide  

  1. Presenting your Solution 

Is your product a one-off cure to the problem or a recurring service? The solutions slide should clearly state the nature of your solution and express the key functions of your solution in a concise manner.

Any good pitch deck should complement your story by providing unique and innovative advantages of your product. Add in key words that symbolise value creation for your end user, e.g. “lower cost”, “speed up”, “more convenient” and the list goes on. 

This slide is usually accompanied by a product demonstration. Keep the solutions slide simple and impactful. Your slide should complement the product demonstration, highlighting the key benefits of your solution versus existing solutions.

Your Solution

Recommended slide count: 1 slide  

  1. Business Model Fit

For a start, investors have a few criteria before they buy into your problem-solution story; they have personally experienced the said pain point and understand the industry landscape well enough to empathise, and most importantly, they see a clear path of return on investment (ROI) down the road. Therefore, your slide must show that your business is scalable. Make full use of this slide to show how you plan to monetise your solution. Be clear where your revenue streams originate and the margins you can make from them. 

Investors want to be shown a model that makes sense in this current time period. Present a business model that is supported by the current industry landscape. Having a well-defined business model slide is essentially to show proof of scalability, timing, and clear investment potential for investors.  

Good to include:

  • Pricing models
  • Projected market share
  • Expected revenue targets
Business Model

Recommended slide count: 1 slide

  1. Address the competitive landscape

Showcase your competitors to shine light on your value proposition and competitive edge. Present real and direct competition (e.g. Grab vs. Comfort/Uber) to create a meaningful image of your position in the competitive landscape. A clear visualisation of market competition is crucial in demonstrating a founder’s understanding of competitive threats to the company and how they plan to position themselves against their competitors. 

Good to include:

  • Effective Visual Aids
  • Logos of competitors
  • Competing products 
Address the Competitive Landscape

Recommended slide count: 1 slide

  1. Well-researched market size

Whether you are raising capital for seed rounds or Series A and beyond, the definition of market size for your product will be scrutinised. There is a standard return multiple that investors set out to achieve at each funding round. Only a fraction of funded businesses succeed. Effective pitch decks must therefore justify a market size large enough to convince investors of that funding your business is worth the risk.

A good pitch deck will present a total addressable market (TAM) that is both large and realistic. A bottom-up approach in calculating TAM, while more tedious to calculate, provides a believable baseline for investors to begin evaluating the scalability of your business model. 

Click here to understand how to calculate different addressable markets (link to TAM blog post)

Recommended slide count: 1 slide

  1. Show-off your traction gained since establishment

For this part, your slides should display proof of product solution gaining traction. Two main points to cover here: business performance metrics and customer feedback (to show market acceptance). Display important metrics that are linked to your top line growth. 

For example, SaaS companies will look at net addition of users, churn rate and customer lifetime value. Some companies provide cash burn rate and the remaining months of cash to justify additional capital injection. Founders can refer to the famous “hockey stick” approach to enhance their credibility. This approach justifies the growth story of start-ups as it shows there is an acceleration of growth in the business attributed to something the company is doing right. 

Good to include:

  • Key growth milestones
  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Path to profitability
  • User reviews
  • Growth and churn rate
  • Product acceptance metrics
Hockey Stick Growth

Recommended slide count: 2 – 4 slides

  1. Capable Management Team

According to DocSend, team slides are where investors spend the second most amount of time on (DocSend, 2015). A good slide will include the co-founders’ past entrepreneurial success and leadership experiences.

Key team members are occasionally included to show hierarchy of roles and decision makers. Investors prefer a clear distinction in job functions and sign of team synergy from complementary skillsets. Investors care a lot about the scope of the founder’s ambition as well. It is worthwhile to include a business vision to remind investors of the vital question: “why you?” and the motivation of scaling this business. 

Good to include:

  • Founder and Co-Founders’ capabilities and experience
  • Team structure (Who’s in charge of What)
  • What each member brings to the team
  • Business vision and values

Recommended slide count: 1 – 2 slides

  1. Financial Projections

The slide that potential investors spend the most time on will be the financial slides. Ironically, only 57 percent of successful decks provide this section, according to DocSend (DocSend, 2015). As such, your financial projection is the most sensitive section of the pitch and can make or break a deal. Only include this slide when there has been significant market evidence to support presented models.

Impactful slide decks provide investors with a good idea of where founders foresee their business over a 2-year horizon at the minimum. This is where realistic financial projections will have to be made based on sound understanding of the business operations and management expectations of meeting key performance indicators (KPI). With that, it is safer to remain on the conservative side when projecting financials. The one thing founders want to avoid is to overpromise and underdeliver. 

Good to include:

  • Projected growth rate
  • Growth timeline
  • Conditions that support projected growth

Recommended slide count: 2 – 3 slides

  1. The Ask*

To wrap up the pitch and reiterate a call to action, the final slide in your main deck will have to be your asking price. At this stage, investors have a clearer idea of the quality of your business. By now, they want to know the quantitative aspect of it. This includes how much you are planning to raise, your plan to allocate these funds raised, and your concrete goals after a successful funding round.

The goal is both to express the financial, infrastructural, managerial support you hope to get from an investor, and to assure investors that you have a clear plan on how to most efficiently convert the invested dollars into astronomic growth.

* It is important to note that the level of support you are looking for varies from investor to investor. You should adjust the “ask” slide based on each pitch. Justification of funding amount is best done in person and this slide should not be present on a slide deck that is publicly shared. 

Recommended slide count: 1 slide

  1. Appendix 

While the main pitch deck is limited to a maximum of 15 slides, you need to be prepared for subsequent questions and clarifications from investors after the pitch. A comprehensive pitch deck should include supporting evidence to back up claims made at the front. 

The appendix provides deeper research data and supporting financials that are only briefly shown in the main deck. For example, you can choose to display more performance metrics or the logic supporting the choice of KPIs. Anticipate questions from investors, you should address potential business risks and how you intend to mitigate them. 

 Another area that investors may also question is the team’s history, simply to do their due diligence in ensuring they are investing in the right founders. You can consider further elaborating your team’s competencies to fully convince investors of your team’s ability to execute your business vision.

Good to include:

  • Derivation of any figure: Market Size, Potential Users, Project Growth Rate, etc.
  • Detailed financial records
  • Expenses structure and burn rate

Recommended slide count: 10 – 15 slides 

(prevent time wasting caused by sifting through multiple appendix slides just to find one information)

A succinct and visually appealing deck: Dos & Don’ts

With hundreds of pitches to sieve through, a deck that doesn’t meet the mental checkboxes of investors will get lost in the archives. 

  • A good deck should not have more than 15-20 slides in the main deck 
  • Limit visuals to 3 main colours to project professionalism while expressing your business values
  • Include an overview of the main message in each slide to align the audience to your talking points
  • Avoid any distracting photos or text as you want investors to focus on the main message in each slide
  • Check that every visual and figure embellishes your story; keep your pitch lean to allow investors to focus on the main takeaways

Professional looking slides capture the attention of your audience and reflect the credibility of your team, the latter being a key decision factor for investors.  When raising capital, it is critical to analyse all aspects of your pitch from the perspective of the investor. Empathise with their concerns and interests and craft your pitch to address them. The process of creating an outstanding pitch deck requires many rounds of fine-tuning and testing with different audiences. With that, we wish you the best of luck in your next pitch.

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