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| 3 minutes read

The Anatomy of a Pitch Deck

Do you have questions about what it takes to get funding? 

Have you ever considered what happens to everyone who does not end up in a pitch competition or on Shark Tank? 

Ever wonder how companies raise millions, tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars? 

The answer is they usually use a pitch deck to share a compelling story in order to influence an audience (typically investors) to fund their business. 

What is a pitch deck?

For those unfamiliar with the term, a pitch deck is a presentation used to present a business plan to potential investors in person or via an online meeting. A pitch deck is usually a well-thought-out presentation laid out in an intentionally designed way to showcase a product or service. 

Why is a pitch deck important?

So, the first question is often why the need for a pitch deck? Pitch decks are important because after initially meeting your potential investor they are your first impression  A pitch deck tells your story, and if you have the right story in place, it can help you secure funding. While there are many variations to a pitch deck, there are certain presentation keys that will guarantee success.

It is important to understand that you are telling a story, and that story needs to be told in just minutes. Content quality is more important than quantity. While investors have a high interest in the financials, they want to know to whom they are giving their money, the leadership, and the team. (For more statistics and analysis around the art of the pitch deck, check out this great article by TechCrunch).

How do you create a successful pitch deck?

When creating a pitch deck, you want to focus on telling YOUR story - do not worry about selling or about saying the right thing. Rather focus on sharing your passion, demonstrating your deep knowledge, and expressing yourself and your team's skills. 

One question I always get asked is how much information to include, and my response is it depends. I tend to follow Steve Job's Rule of 3 - no slide should have more than 3 bullet points on a page. (Here is a great article on 11 presentation lessons from Steve Jobs) Personally, I also never give someone my pitch deck. If they want more information, I send them to a website and send them an Executive Summary (for more information on an Executive Summary, see this article). However, for me, the pitch deck is only part of the presentation, it is the backdrop for the show they are about to experience. (You will find some people who suggest putting more on a slide, however, generally speaking, the feedback I get from funding sources follows the K.I.S.S. model.)

The other question I always get asked is in regards to how many slides to have in the pitch deck. I have heard all types of numbers, and my recommendation is to have a pitch deck that allows you to speak to your audience in the time allotted. Personally, I want something I can talk over in 5-7 minutes. This usually means the deck is 10-15 slides long, and if there is some additional information, I create an Appendix. 

So what could you include in those slides? 

1. Cover Slide

2. Your Vision

3. The Problem

4. How Big the Problem is

5. Your Solution

6. Why is Now the Right Time to Solve the Problem

7. Why are you the Right Team to Solve the Solution

8. What Makes you Different / Unique

9. What does the Landscape Look Like

10. How do you Make Money?

11. Financial Summary

12. The ASK

13. Summary

14. Q & A

15. Appendix (optional)

I tend to advise companies to plan to spend 1-5 hours per slide to ensure they have captured the essence of the topic, made sure it is the most impactful it can be, and have done the work to make sure they understand the information at a deeper level. 

Another important point, while the format and design is not the most important, a picture is worth 1000% words. Great design and graphics allows more detail to be shared about your story without having to create more bullet points. You want your presentation to look polished and professional. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. One great resource to use is Concept Drop.

Finally, I tend to keep it short and demonstrate there is a deep knowledge base and immense skills to execute the vision. Ultimately I want to get my audience to ask questions.

And do not forget the legal stuff . . . 

When you put together your pitch deck, you should include disclaimers regarding the nature of the fundraising and address any securities issues that could arise as part of your efforts. It is important to take the time to talk with your legal counsel regarding these aspects of fundraising and the distribution of a pitch deck prior to beginning the fundraising process. 

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emerging companies, insights, melfi_michael
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