Pitch-Perfect Pitch Deck

By: Sheldon Hamburger, RTP Capital Associates, Inc.

Editor’s Note:

ACA member, Sheldon Hamburger of RTP Capital Associates, Inc. shares his opinion on creating the pitch-perfect pitch deck for entrepreneurs seeking capital from investors.  The article covers many key issues most angels would like to see addressed in a pitch deck, but the order of the topics may vary for other angels.  

Help Me Help You

I’ve lost track of how many pitch decks have come my way over the years and it still amazes me how often these requests for money are incomplete and missing even the most fundamental information such as: What is your product?  What are you asking for?  Why would anyone buy what you’re selling?

Investors are looking to invest – that’s why they’re called investors.  But entrepreneurs (often a generous term for those pitching to us) need to help us.  Your pitch deck is often the first and only chance you have to get us interested.  Please do us (and yourself) a favor put a little work into creating a simple but compelling deck.  Remember, we see lots of these.

Here’s a basic outline for what we’re expecting.  If you follow this outline, I won’t guarantee you’ll get funding, but you’ll dramatically improve the chances an investor won’t press the delete key at slide two.

Slide 1: Cover slide – Provide your company name, contact info (it is surprising how many decks don’t have contact info), and a logo/slogan.  Don’t use excessive graphics or color, particularly background graphics.

Slide 2: What is it? – Tell me what you’ve got and why it’s valuable.  This is often called the value proposition. Just give me one sentence that summarizes what you have, why it’s better, and why someone would part with money to buy it.  If you have to use multiple sentences, bullet points, or other verbiage, just set your presentation to auto-destruct at this point.

Slide 3: Your ask – I know you’re asking for money, so don’t hide – tell me now. How much do you want and what terms are you proposing?  I don’t what go through your whole deck only to learn (at the end) that you want $20M for a 2% stake in your non-revenue producing company.

Slide 4: Problem statement – What’s the problem you’re trying solve?  Hook me right here.  I want to feel that pain.  If there’s no problem, nobody needs a solution (that would be your product), and you don’t need my money.

Slide 5: The offering – Now tell more about what you have in a way that really makes the problem go away.  Keep this simple and direct.  Use of graphics/pictures is very appropriate here.  Sometimes a simple graphic or video tells the whole story.

Slide 6: The competition – Show me how and why you’re better than everyone else.  A straight-forward chart/matrix is great for this purpose.  It should show all the great attributes that your product has and that the competition lacks.

Slide 7: Intellectual property (IP) – This establishes barriers to entry and the more you have the better.  If you don’t have any IP, tell me why my dog couldn’t develop the same thing.

Slide 8: Sales/Marketing – Share how you intend to get this product into the marketplace and generate great revenue.  If this involves several channels, show me your current/initial focus and how you will ultimately expand your sales efforts.  You’re probably asking for money to fund this area, so be sure you have this nailed down.

Slide 9: Financials – Present revenue, expense, margins, and any other key performance indicators appropriate to your business (such as customer acquisition cost).  I want to see your performance to-date and your future direction.  For projections, show a best-case, conservative-case, and worst-case (other than bankruptcy) scenario.

Slide 10: Use of proceeds – What will you do with the money you’re seeking?  A pie chart is a good vehicle for presenting this vital information.

Slide 11: Team – Who’s running this thing?  Ultimately, I’m investing in you.  Do yourself a favor and get professional photos of your team.  They’re cheap, look good in your presentation, and are also nice on LinkedIn and your corporate website.  Hard as it is to believe, I’m not impressed with your fuzzy photo of you at the beach with your dog.

Slide 12: Your ask – Show me this again.  This time, I’ll be evaluating your offer in light of what you presented.  If you did your job, I’m more excited now than when we started.

Slide 13: Closing slide – Your closing slide looks like your cover slide.  If your presentation is effective and the “ask” looks good, I’m ready to contact someone so have your contact info right here, right now.

Appendix slides: Put all the other information here.  You can include additional background information, research, financial details, case studies, etc.  Consider putting hyperlinks in the presentation that link the reader to further info.  This is also very effective when delivering this presentation in person.

Other key points to remember include the following:

  • Keep it simple, simple, simple
  • Use short phrases, not long, run-on sentences
  • Slide titles help out a lot – keep them short and on point
  • Bullet points should be one line each
  • Use photos, videos, and animations to help get your point across
  • Send me a PowerPoint not a PDF.  This allows you to use PowerPoint animation features.
  • Use upper and lower case (i.e., not all caps) and spell check your deck!

It’s not that hard to create a pitch-perfect deck if you really understand your business.  Putting in the effort to make your presentation clear and compelling will pay big dividends.