Are you wondering how to create a clear pitch deck flow?
Flow is incredibly important when it comes to pitch decks for startup fundraising. How should you arrange your slides for the optical outcome?
You may have a fantastic startup idea. You may be a ninja at putting together data and have a fabulous designer on your team to make your slides look amazing. Though, without the right flow, your pitch deck may not produce any results at all. You can’t afford that.
Here’s what’s most important when creating a clear pitch deck, how to get the sequence right, and how to close the round.
What’s A Pitch Deck?
A pitch deck is a collection of slides used as a presentation for selling angel and venture capital investors on putting their money into your startup.
This is typically formatted as a PowerPoint style presentation. There are other presentation software options to use, though Google Slides seems to be one of the most versatile and useful of them.
A pitch deck is your venture’s business card and elevator pitch for investors. It says who you are, what you are doing, why you are so credible, why they should be a part of what you are doing, and what that opportunity looks like.
You’ll often be using your pitch deck to earn meetings with investors and the chance to present to them. During those opportunities you’ll be verbally pitching and presenting a variation of your deck live.
You may also be using your pitch deck to help recruit cofounders, executive talent and high level advisors. This is a critical aspect of how to create a clear pitch deck flow as these individuals need to also be enrolled in the future.
The Problem With Pitch Decks
The Y Combinator Seed pitch deck template they published to help founders with their 2018 Demo Day began with a cover slide stating “Founders build bad pitch decks,” and “this wastes a huge amount of time. Bad seed decks mean they don’t raise the money they need.”
When startups don’t bring in the money they need in capital they are forced into survival mode, and at best are moving a lot slower than they should. Which is a huge area of risk in itself. This also typically forces other bad decisions to survive in the short term at the expense of long term sustainability. This doesn’t just apply to Seed round funding either. It equally applies to pre-seed fundraising rounds, and every round after that.
So, why do founders typically do so poorly at creating effective pitch decks? On one hand it is a result of a lack of good quality information. While there has been a lot more published about fundraising in the past five years, and it now seems like everyone is popping up to put their hands out and make some money on this trend in startups, most of the information isn’t really helping. It is often fragmented at best. Or like any other subject on the internet the bulk of it is regurgitated misinformation or outdated tips recycled by amateurs trying to put out content cheaply, without really knowing current best practices themselves.
Many of the smartest and most talented and ultimately most successful startup founders are also highly technical. They are very left brained. While this can be invaluable in engineering, coding product, and even in operations, this doesn’t always make for the best pitch decks. In fact, the opposite often proves to be true. This is one of those areas where you can really benefit from getting out of your own way. If you can’t do that, then at least force yourself to have the discipline to do what works. Which can often be in direct contradiction to everything you want to mind dump onto a volume of slides. Like any other critical part of business it is best if you can employ the best pros here to design your deck and weave together some killer copy for it.
Next best is to grab a proven pitch deck template and use that. You want to do this anyway and feed it to your fundraising team to fill out.
Keep in mind when looking into how to create a clear pitch deck flow that even three years ago it was estimated that 1,000 pitch decks were being created by entrepreneurs each day, just in San Francisco alone. When you are up against those kinds of numbers and amount of competition, you can’t afford to get it wrong. You can’t afford to be mediocre. You’ve got to nail it.
What Makes A Winning Pitch Deck?
A great pitch deck is the combination of a formulaic foundation, and iced with customized creativity.
You’ve got to have the cake right. But you can decorate the top for the occasion and personal tastes. Like you probably wouldn’t substitute one of your dessert cake ingredients with onion and expect anyone to like it. Giving a blue iced cake with “Happy Birthday John,” on top to your wife Jane whose favorite color is red for your anniversary isn’t going to go down well or work, right?
Same concept here.
In this setting, the formula involves having the right number of slides, with the right data, but completing that with your unique startup’s information, and augmenting it with a little visual design.
Just like your product and solution and direct to consumer marketing, your pitch deck should also be tailored to your investor audience. You should know the target list of investors you plan to reach out to and present in front of, and make sure you are checking the boxes on their list.
A big part, and perhaps the most important, yet all too often underestimated is the flow of your pitch deck. You’ve got to have the flow right. Otherwise it’s like reversing through a maze of one way streets in your car at high speed. Technically, you are on the road, and your car is facing the right direction. Though you can imagine the outcome is going to be substantially different than if you followed the correct flow.
As part of how to create a clear pitch deck flow, 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.
Investors Want Proper Pitch Deck Flow
Some people like those movies that are constantly jumping back and forth in timelines. For many people it is just confusing and frustrating. They spend more time trying to figure out the timeline than getting the rest of the storyline.
This is not a scenario in which you want to risk any more confusion or frustration than you need to. You are already probably presenting a novel idea with quite a bit of risk as it is.
You have to be extremely clear in your pitch deck and simplify to the extreme.
You don’t want this to be like one of those two minute Youtube videos convoluted and constantly interrupted with ads. Getting them from introduction to convinced and taking action requires their focus and carefully curated flow.
You can inject clarity with simplicity in your slides. Limited amounts of large sized text, lots of white space and clear visuals. As well as staying disciplined in the number of slides you allow to make the cut in your final pitch deck. Shorter is better. Otherwise you inadvertently start going off on mental detours.
Anything which doesn’t neatly fit into the perimeters of this tight group of 10 to 20 slides should be aggregated in the appendix or a separate document in your virtual data room.
What Is The Right Flow For Your Pitch Deck?
Here is the correct flow that investors are expecting to see in your deck. Anything else is just going to get you dismissed or cause more friction that you don’t need.
Who are you? What is your company? What is this all about in one sentence? How do I get in touch with you if I’m interested in learning more about your startup or sending you a check?
In a sentence what is this problem your startup is solving? Why is this problem worthy of being addressed? How urgent is it? How have you derisked this and proven the demand for a solution to it?
What is the overarching thesis about how you will solve this problem? What is the vision and mission?
This is the most important section when you are addressing how to create a clear pitch deck flow. What market are you in? How big is this space in total? How does that relate to financial potential in dollars? Where will you start tackling this market to enter and gain traction? Is this a growing marketplace and customer base? If so, how much bigger is it going to get over the life of this investment. Capturing the market size is essential.
How are you bringing this solution to reality with a tangible commercial product? What is it? What is the one main USP? How is it 10x or more better than anything else out there? Can you provide screenshots of it in action or at least a prototype so investors know it is real?
Can you prove that you’ve been able to focus and execute? What progress have you made already that shows investors you can get things done and make the most of the resources you have? What notable milestones have been achieved that de-risk this investment? Have you been able to prove you can consistently push growth in hockey stick fashion?
Who is this team of heroes that is championing this mission? Who are they going to be joining on this journey? What special talent gap may be filled by investors who step into this round? How have you and your companions proven they are capable and have what it takes, and are the best champions to put into this fight?
Who else is in this market? How are they fairing on this journey? What about them suggests this is a smart investment to make? Where are they failing that you can step up and do better at? What makes you special and the team to bet on in this race?
What are your goals? What metrics are you focusing on pushing to make this happen? What do these projections mean in terms of value for investors who participate in this round?
How much money is needed to get this venture off the ground or take it to the next level? What categories of spending with these funds be dedicated to in order to make this progress? How long will it be before more capital is needed?
Call To Action
Why should they participate? Why is now the time they must act? What must they do right now to secure their place?
This flow is all weaved together as a cohesive story. If you have an impact focused startup, then you may make your story and interjected anecdotes more personal and emotion in nature. If it is not, then focus telling a strategic story of how these financial data points flow together to make a smart investment choice.
See the video below where I cover in detail how to create a pitch deck.
Present & Follow Up
Practice your verbal pitch to present your pitch deck with great clarity and the right flow. Be sure you can deliver this, and get your three main points across in 20 minutes or less. Ensure you are prepared to handle any additional questions that come up after your pitch.
Then start getting your pitch deck out there. Start putting it to work, getting investor meetings and put that funding in the bank to fuel your venture.
If you are doing this well, and still aren’t seeing the funds coming in, then make sure you are nailing the follow up and that you are tracking that your pitch deck is actually getting through and viewed when you are blasting it out there.
Hopefully this post provides value as you are looking into how to create a clear pitch deck flow.