How to present the team slide in a pitch deck when team is non-existent.
The team slide is incredibly important when it comes to creating a pitch deck that secures funding. It is easily one of the most pivotal decision points for potential investors.
This is perhaps most critical during the early stages of a startup. Which can also be the stages in which the team is the leanest and least developed. So, how can you present your current team in the best light? What can you do to augment your team to fill in the gaps, and give investors more confidence?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
The Importance Of The Team Slide In A Pitch Deck
The team slide is easily one of the top three most important and pivotal slides in your pitch deck.
This is alongside your problem slide, and your financials slide. Of course, you need a great cover slide, too, otherwise, no one will click through or hang around to see any of the others.
Still, you can get everything else perfect, yet fail to get funded due to your team slide. Or you can be weak everywhere else, and can still get funded based on the strength of your team.
If you can just get your cover slide good enough to spark their interest, have a strong problem, and show them that you are the best team to take this on, then you can get funded.
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.
Why Is The Team So Important?
Experienced investors know that it really all comes down to the team. A weak team will waste the best opportunities and ideas, and all of the capital they are given. A great team can make a weak idea, and a little money goes a long way.
The team is also the greatest predictor of success. Especially, as an early-stage startup with little history of hard metrics and financials to bet on.
Business is competitive, and for a startup to truly have the best chances of winning enough market share to go big enough to deliver on investor returns, they really need to have an incredibly strong team, if not the best in their industry, and every facet of operations.
Entrepreneurship is also anything but easy. It brings all new challenges all day, every day. Not everyone is cut out for it. Investors can’t afford to bet on founders that will give up.
You are probably not going to be the only one bringing a similar idea to investors this week. What is really unique only to your venture is your team. So, it isn’t that uncommon for investors to make their bet based on the team, even if the entire product and business model changes over the next couple of months and years. So, read ahead to understand how to present the team slide in a pitch deck when team is non-existent.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
What Investors Want To See In A Fundable Team
So, what do investors want and need when it comes to a team they can put their money into?
Credentials can help, but practical experience is more relevant than paper degrees or initials after your name.
What real-world experience do you have in managing and growing a business? What about the experience in this industry? Of course, if you have started and sold a company before, that may be the best resume you can have, though every serial entrepreneur has to start somewhere.
What have you done, or been through that shows that you have the tenacity and staying power to stick with this? What have you endured or conquered that demonstrates this? What have you personally invested, or why is this so deeply important to you that you won’t quit?
While startup funding is a financial transaction, and the math has to work, it is also far more about trust and human relationships than many get at first. It is hard and takes time to build. It is easy and fast to lose.
The best way to do this is to get a head start on making the right connections and prove you can deliver over time, ahead of your need.
It is business, and you need to maintain a professional relationship. Yet, you don’t want to be locked into a relationship with investors and board members you just don’t like and can’t get along with. It is a recipe for disaster and a failed business. It could be a decade-long journey, and you need to enjoy the journey.
One of the great ways to accelerate both trust and likability is to show you have connections to other people they like and trust.
How To Layout Your Team Slide In A Pitch Deck
While you must demonstrate the strength of your team in your pitch deck, you are working with limited space.
You don’t want to waste this opportunity that could make or break your startup, just because you didn’t convey how great of a team you really have.
You also can’t afford to blow your pitch by overloading this slide in your deck with too much text and detail.
Remember that simplicity and a clean presentation come first, and is the overriding deciding factor in your pitch deck design.
The best option is to simply display your key team members with high-quality profile pictures, a simple one-line bio, and their names and title. The text should show off what is so great about them, that is most relevant to this venture and its success.
You can also augment this with off-slide information.
You may include links to LinkedIn bios to further strengthen your team profiles. Be sure to have these profiles and bios updated to be most relevant to your startup and fundraising campaign.
It is a great time to ask for reviews and recommendations from others, ask for introductions, and build out your network of connections.
Optimize For Google
Make sure you Google all of the team members you will include in your team slide. Clean up any old digital dirt. Get new content published that ranks higher than outdated information. Use Google to establish your credibility and trust.
Your team’s full resumes can and should be included in your virtual data room. This is where your serious investors can get all the additional information and answers that don’t fit in an effective pitch deck.
Be sure these resumes are updated and skillfully written, in a way that is most effective for your fundraising efforts. Using these tips will help you work out how to present the team slide in a pitch deck when team is non-existent.
What If You Can’t Afford To Hire The Best Team In The Business?
It’s not uncommon for early-stage startups to see challenges with hiring a large and best-in-class team. After all, that may be one of the chief reasons that you are seeking funding in the first place.
It is the best team that is going to win the funding that is up for grabs in the market. So, what if you are feeling lean on cash to offer big sign-on bonuses or salaries, or may even be running close to empty on making existing payroll?
First, take stock of where you need to supplement your team to truly stand out to investors. Decide what gaps you need to fill. Then consider these more creative and perhaps wiser ways to bring in the team you need.
Offer Equity To Great Talent
Salaries and office perks aren’t the only way to draw top-notch hires to your startup. Equity is a common way to compensate talent in this space, without a big upfront cash-out lay or committing to a monthly debt you can’t afford to keep up with. Investors will expect you to be creating an employee stock option pool anyway.
This also has many ongoing benefits. It can increase employee retention and loyalty. While also encouraging them to work their hardest, and think about the long-term value of your business.
Remote & Fractional Talent
Remote and fractional workers can be a lot more affordable, and provide a lot more value on your dollar. You can begin with fractional CMOs and other department leaders. Just pay on what you need, not a full-time salary, which often just covers a lot of downtimes and unproductive time. This way, you can get a lot higher caliber of hire, which is far more credible too.
You can also augment your founding team and key employees by showing notable advisors on your team slide.
Who do you know that fills the gaps and would be a strong advisor? Perhaps someone who also knows investors? Who will add value to this role, and credibility for investors?
The best may need to be compensated for their time. Though this may be achieved by offering equity and options.
What board members do you already have? If you have notable board members that have joined from investors you’ve already brought on in early rounds, you can show them off as well.
Bring In More Cofounders
Having too many cofounders can bring additional problems or be a turn-off to investors. Though if you are still working solo, or have just two or three cofounders, then you still have room to bring in more.
While the skills and other value that they can bring to the table is most important when it comes to cofounders, you may even run a process to see which can also bring the most capital to the table themselves.
When you don’t have a team, you need to understand what investors look for in founding teams, and work out how to reassure them. Check out this video I have created where I explain in detail what investors focus on. It will help you create a compelling pitch deck.
Detail Who You Plan To Hire With This Round Of Funding
You may not be able to bring in everyone you would like to in time. So, you can also use this fundraising round to help get there.
Mention the key hires this round will enable you to make. If you haven’t already vetted these candidates and have them on call, then use the opportunity to ask investors to refer top candidates to you.
So, who should you be hiring?
The Most Important Hires For Startups
Experienced founders consistently say that they wish they had recruited more outside executives earlier, rather than trying to play these roles. Even including bringing in a CEO. You can then have them build out their teams under the CTO, CFO, etc.
Focus on those with authority and credibility in your industry, and on the scale of company you need to get to with this next round of funding.
Going beyond the most common executive titles you should continue delegating down and bringing in people to take charge of your various functions. A CMO can be one of the most important if you are a technical founder.
Fundraising can be incredibly consuming. It takes a lot of work to master, can be very distracting, and eats up an enormous amount of time. Bringing in experts to help with design, content creation, and advisors for fundraising strategy and introductions can help fast-track all of this, and deliver greater results.
Other People To Free Up Your Time
To be successful you have to think and work like a business owner. Get as much off your plate as you can. This may include hiring an assistant or two just to handle the daily busy work that prevents you from working on the highest level, and greatest ROI tasks. And, use these tips to learn how to present the team slide in a pitch deck when team is non-existent.
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