What are the best hacks to improve your pitch deck? Ready to create a winning pitch deck that attracts the capital and investors your startup needs to be successful? Check out these hacks and smart tips for building a better pitch deck…
Your pitch deck is the key to raising the financial fuel your venture needs, as well as enrolling your ideal investors who will become pivotal stakeholders and business partners. Unfortunately, this is one area in which entrepreneurs still really struggle with nailing.
Whether you are just preparing to craft a pitch deck for the first time, or you aren’t getting the results you hoped for, these tips and hacks will help improve your chances of fundraising success.
Recognize that you will often only have one chance to get your pitch deck right when approaching investors. These are the essentials and improvements you need to make so that you don’t blow that all-important first impression and connection.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
What Makes A Good Pitch Deck?
Make sure you are sticking to these golden rules for acceptable and investor approved pitch decks. If you can’t nail these basics, don’t expect investors to take you seriously.
Simplicity & Clarity
The number one foundational principle of a successful pitch deck that 99% of entrepreneurs fail at is trying to cram in too much information.
They think more information and detail is better. They think they can make up for their lack of self-confidence or established credibility with more text and data and explanation of their technology. That just isn’t true. It not only does the opposite in showing how inexperienced you are and how little confidence you have, but it will also sabotage your fundraising efforts at every turn.
It also leads to that other critical mistake, demanding NDAs before showing the deck to anyone. That just isn’t going to happen when you are approaching serious investors that actually have the capital and experience to help you build this business to its full potential.
If in doubt, leave it out.
A great pitch deck is simple, clean, and displays the few most important points you need to convey very crisply and clearly.
Think big fonts. At least 30 points. Embrace more white space. This is one of the key hacks to improve your pitch deck.
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Failure at the above typically shows up as either cramming too much onto slides, or having too many slides in your deck.
As an early-stage startup, you do not need more than ten slides. No ifs, and, or buts.
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There may be a few exceptions for later-stage startups that do have a lot of data to report, and whose businesses are more complex due to a broad existing menu of products or having acquired several subsidiary businesses as part of a roll-up.
In these cases, you may go to 12, 16, or at the extreme 20 slides. Only go this long if you absolutely must. Don’t use this leeway as an excuse to be lazy and use extra slides because you lack the discipline of keeping it short and simple.
Looking for more tips on how to share information with investors? Take a look at this video where I have explained in detail how it is done.
The Right Order
One of the basic hacks to improve your pitch deck is to get your slides in the right order. Investors expect the story, rationale, and facts to flow in a certain order. Nail this or you’ll throw them off. They will become focused on how bad your deck is instead of the points you really want to get across.
This is not the place to try and innovate and disrupt. Save that for your product, solution, and business model. Otherwise, it would be like refusing to fill out a bank’s loan application form and insisting on sending them your information written out on a paper napkin. It’s just not going to get you funded.
The nine stages of a pitch are:
1. The Problem: What problem is your startup is setting out to solve?
2. The Solution: How will you solve this problem?
3. Market: What market you are in, how big is it, what is your slice of that?
4. Product: What is the product or products you will be selling to solve this problem?
5. Traction: How much progress have you made so far? What has been achieved?
6. Team: Who is on the team and will be helping to champion this mission and business?
7. Competition: Who are your competitors, and how do you compare with them?
8. Financials: What type of revenue and profit is this business making and going to make?
9. The Ask: How much money are you asking for in this fundraising round, and what will you be using the money for?
When it comes to putting this on slides, and in a pitch deck format you may add a cover slide, and if needed, an appendix to back up your claims, data, and assumptions. Remember this is another of the important hacks to improve your pitch deck.
Focus On Your Most Important Slides
Be sure to really put the effort in on your most important slides. The ones which investors will pay the most attention to, and are most pivotal in their decision to fund you or pass and finance one of your competitors instead.
The Cover Slide: The first impression sets the tone and decides whether they keep swiping and listening or not.
The Problem Slide: You can get just about everything else wrong and get funded, but not this slide. Investors will expect your product to evolve, your customer base to shift, marketing to take new tangents, your team to change, and even your business model and pricing to be altered significantly. However, a viable startup is all built on the right problem and clarity on that.
The Financials Slide: Investors will spend the most time on your finances slide if you include one. Make sure you have done your homework on your assumptions and can back up your projections with authoritative sources. Don’t give them more than you need to, so they aren’t hung up on additional questions and concerns that you are causing, versus streamline their decision in your favor.
How To Improve Your Pitch Deck
So, whether you aren’t 100% sure your deck isn’t going to nail it with your ideal investors, or you have been trying to pitch and the capital isn’t coming in, here are some of the top tips and hacks for improving your pitch deck and getting funded.
Use A Proven Pitch Deck Template
Don’t try to wing it or reinvent the wheel here or simple guess. Success leaves clues. Use them.
There are more and more companies offering pitch deck creation services or selling their own templates. Some of their websites may look great. Just be careful if you can’t prove they are really getting big rounds funded with great conversion rates.
A good and free place to start is looking at some of the past pitch decks of startups that have been funded. Especially look at those of companies in your space, at the rounds you are raising at now, and from your target investors.
Even better, check out proven pitch deck templates. It’s one of the simplest hacks to improve your pitch deck. Those vouched for by notable and serious angel investors and VC funds, and active fundraising advisors who have been helping get deals funded.
Get A Fundraising Consultant
Consult a professional and reputable fundraising advisor who specializes in helping startups of your size get funding. They know the investor and what they are looking for in a deck and are actually funding, versus the 99% of pitch attempts they turn down.
Get Pro Help Creating Your Pitch Deck
If you don’t want to spend big bucks on an agency that handles your whole pitch deck creation, then at least avail yourself of professional on-demand freelance help to polish your deck for you. Specifically, this includes professional copywriters and graphic designers. Your images should look flawless in your deck on all screen sizes. Every word of your text can make a difference in telling the right story and convincing investors to put in their capital.
Financial Modeling Software
Take advantage of financial modeling software to quickly run the numbers, and display them in the best way, accurately. Good software can help your data look great quickly, and can give you dynamic tools to play with the numbers based on different scenarios, and be prepared for investor questions. Using software is another of the most effective hacks to improve your pitch deck.
Back It Up With A Strong Data Room
If like most entrepreneurs you are struggling with creating a tight pitch deck, use your data room to provide all the supporting information you want to convey.
You can load it with a more in-depth pitch deck, additional financials, your executive summary, business plan, action plan, and latest investor update.
Google Drive works just fine for this. Though other fundraising-specific virtual data room tools may give you even more tools for tracking who has viewed your data, how often, when, and for how long. It can also make it easy to grant and revoke access as needed.
Strengthen Your Team
Next to your problem, your team is one of the most pivotal factors in whether you get funded or not. Maybe even more so. They may be willing to fund your team, even if they don’t believe you have the rest right. Though, it doesn’t matter how great your ideas are if you don’t have the best team to execute on it. Someone else will come in and pass you with a better team.
Use this time to enroll more credible and accomplished advisors, build out your cofounding team with a complementary skill set that covers both domain expertise and business acumen. Hire executive management and department heads as needed to fill the gaps.
Bring them all together crisply on your team slide with headshots and brief highlights of their accomplishments.
Test It & Compile Feedback
You already know you should be testing everything in your business before betting all of your capital and blowing vital sales opportunities. It is no different when it comes to selling investors with your pitch deck. Given you may not survive without this capital, testing and compiling feedback on your pitch deck before you attempt to show it to your ideal target investors is far more important.
Run it by friends and family, trusted advisors, those with fundraising campaign experience, and even other entrepreneurs who have recently run a process with investors you plan to approach.
Compile the feedback, look for the common threads, and polish your pitch deck before really putting it out there.
Work On Your Pitch
In many cases, an even shorter teaser pitch deck may be your key to getting investor meetings and pitch opportunities, but your verbal pitch and presentation are still intertwined with the success of your deck of slides.
Specifically, work on the following.
- The Timing: In tandem with your slides, and not running more than 20 minutes long
- Rehearsing: Get your pitch so natural that you don’t need to read a script, notes, or prompts
- The Setting: Practice in the actual setting you’ll be pitching investors
- The Presentation Technology: Whether meeting on Zoom or a startup demo day, be sure you are flawless with flowing through the slides, microphones, and switching screens
- The Q&A: Make sure you know the questions investors will be asking and practice answering them well
- Storytelling: Have a good story to tell and anecdotes that fit into your presentation
- Practice Listening: Your listening skills are going to be even more important than your speaking skills, practice them
Your pitch deck is what will make or break your fundraising opportunities. You don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression and pitch. Use these tips to ace this critical part of your venture. Employ the hacks to improve your pitch deck.
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