Avid viewers of Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den will be familiar with how entrepreneurs and business owners pitch their ideas. But outside of reality television, this pitch is often done through a series of slides compiled together to make a (hopefully) comprehensive and compelling presentation.
Unfortunately, the stark reality is that, as with any presentation or slide deck, many tend to be quite dull as many great innovators spend most of their time and effort perfecting their product, service, and business. So to help those of you who need a pitch deck as impressive as your million-dollar idea, we are here to offer some advice and to even furnish you with some examples from which you can draw inspiration.
But before we dive right into all that, and for the benefit of those budding and not yet fully-grown entrepreneurs, let’s answer one not-so-simple question.
A pitch deck is a sales pitch in the form of a presentation that you present to potential investors in the hopes that they will see its value and choose to invest capital and resources. Your pitch deck will highlight a variety of things about your business, including the problem you are solving, the unique product you have developed, information about the market, and your prospects.
Just like any good story, a pitch needs an introduction. A brief overview of the business's history, the product, and what has brought you to this point can be a great way to start. Feel free to include information about your early years and anything you may think will best introduce yourselves.
So why exactly are you here? What is the gap in the market that this product is filling? What problem is your app solving? Here is your chance to highlight customer pain points, and how you can make their life easier, while also revolutionizing or turning the market on its head.
Now that you have described your product or service, time to give an overview of the current market. How many users do you currently have? How much money do they spend annually? Who are the main market players, and who your primary competitor is you are trying to match? Likewise, where do you fall on the spectrum, and what will make you unique are some questions you can thoroughly answer here in this.
So now that you have examined the current situation, it’s time to look to the future. What do your forecasts predict? How many users could you potentially reach or, with some expansion thanks to investment, how many people will be availing themselves of your product or service in the next 2-5 years?
These potential investors will want you to provide them with a realistic outlook on what to expect in the coming years. You will also need to do market research and leverage data to avoid making outlandish or inaccurate claims. Your data and forecasting will come in handy here.
Now that you have spoken at length about why you are here, best present a bit about yourself and your team. Who are you and the team behind this business? Consider this a mini interview.
Go through your background (education, relevant experience) and highlight why you are the perfect people to invest in - what makes you trustworthy, what makes you experts, how you know about what users or the market want and need, etc.
So how long have you been trading? How have the last few years of sales, growth, and development gone? Have there been significant changes and adaptations recently, or is growth steady and slowly gaining traction quarter by quarter?
Here is the chance to provide a comprehensive history of the business's performance as well as key moments such as product developments, other investments, hiring, expansion, or something else that indicates the success you have had to this point.
Time to underline what marketing efforts you want to implement in the upcoming months, or how your sales strategy may develop as you grow from a startup to scale up with some investment. Feel free to include information on how you plan to scale up, how you have hired for marketing a sales roles up to this point, and where you think additional investment could have the most impact - new hires, product development, advertising, or influencer marketing for example.
By proof, we mean testimonials, reviews, and financial reports. Countless successful and iconic pitch decks have included some form of each. Facebook’s original pitch deck (back when it was known as thefacebook) included numerous quotes from prominent newspapers such as The Stanford Daily and The Harvard Independent that reported on its initial success. These served to highlight how it was achieving its goals and how thefacebook effect it had on users.
There will be a time for questions from your audience; naturally, they will be curious about your presentation, especially when money is at stake. Dedicate some time to a Q&A section during the pitch and at the end so you can spread out the questions and keep you and your team from becoming inundated with inquiries right at the end.
Now that we have gone through what a traditional pitch deck includes and what you should too, we cannot examine what you can do to show off your creative flair with your presentation.
A great pitch will impress your audience and have them hanging on your every word. To achieve this, you need to give them a reason to be excited - if your product, service, or business is innovative and forward-thinking, be sure that your presentation emphasizes just that. A boring set of slides won’t convey the type of sentiment you want. So best get interactive.
Why not ask your audience how they would use your product or what feature excited them the most? Is there some pain point they have that you will undoubtedly relieve? Do they have any particular needs that your product or service could help to meet? Posing these questions will encourage investors to envisage themselves using the product, better understand its potential, and engage with your pitch.
Get creative with this interactive element and try to drum up some excitement. For example, when designing a start-up pitch deck, we added a Word Cloud slide asking audience members what annoys them most as potential users. We want to draw the audience in, get them excited about using the service, and then imagine themselves benefiting from it.
Not all of your meetings will go as well as you hope. The likelihood is that the very first meeting will not be the one. It will take time and require you to have patience. In saying that, you may begin to wonder what is causing potential investors to pass or mull things over longer than you anticipated. Well, why not ask them?
Perhaps there are elements of your pitch that need improving. Maybe there are holes in your business plans that you need to address. It can be awkward to ask for feedback and have audience members relay it to you in person. Thankfully you can embed in your presentation a way for anyone to submit feedback on how the meeting went and how they viewed the product or service.
Here we have an example from our redesign of the old Uber pitch deck in which we have added some feedback slides to help the team better understand how their meeting went, rather than relying on intuition and guesswork. Remember, the more you know the more you can improve.
While Q&As are integral to any pitch, they are not without drawbacks and issues. Many will only ask the audience for questions right at the end of the presentation. While this may seem like the most natural course, it can lead to a jumbled mess of inquiries that requires the presenter to go back and forth between slides.
This jumping back and forth will be tough-to-follow and will only distance audience members from the presentation itself. A dedicated Q&A tool that doesn’t require your guests to note down questions or raise a hand one by one will go a long way to creating a more open and transparent environment. Ideally, they would be able to ask a question on the relevant slide when the question is clear in their mind.
Here is a screenshot from our Tinder (Matchbox as it was known) pitch deck that shows how you can run a better Q&A.
Anyone familiar with Shark Tank (Dragons’ Den for our British and Irish readers) will know well that a pitch deck needs to impress. You are here to impress investors with your product, idea, business, and yourself. If you want to impress everyone in the room, then the way you present needs to be equally impressive. Best ditch those boring old slides and design new ones as innovative and memorable as your pitch.
This wow factor could be unique, something no other company does. The interactive element could be one such way in which you are going to stand out from the crowd and showcase just how forward-thinking and creative you are. Perhaps it could be a way of incorporating your product into the presentation. Whatever it is, make sure it's memorable.
Think of this like any presentation. You don’t want to overload it with information but don’t want to be too Spartan to the point that you reveal nothing. Including all the relevant information mentioned above will be more than enough content. Not every single detail needs to be covered. Remember that the audience can ask you to go into more detail or to provide further documentation on things like the financial status of the company.
When we mention building any type of presentation or a slide deck, then PowerPoint is the first name that comes to mind. However, to create a more interactive and engaging pitch deck, we recommend using a tool that will allow you to design slides that impart all the essential information potential investors need, combined with the interactive elements we have mentioned earlier.
Mentimeter (yes, this is a shameless plug, I admit it) lets all of its users combine traditional content slides and is one of the best alternatives to PowerPoint. Word Clouds, Polls, and Quizzes can help you gain their attention, pique their interest, and, hopefully, make them all the more willing to invest.
To create a more interactive pitch, answer everyone's questions, and gather feedback all in one.