How to represent financials in a pitch deck?
Financial slides are the ones that investors spend the most time viewing when it comes to pitch decks. They can easily make or break your fundraising efforts. As well as determining how much you are able to raise, from whom, and on what terms.
So, what financial information should you include in your next pitch deck? How might that change at each round of fundraising? What is it that investors are actually looking for?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Here is the content that we will cover in this post. Let’s get started.
- 1. What Financials Belong In Your Pitch Deck?
- 2. Do You Even Need Financials In Your Pitch Deck?
- 3. Historical Financials
- 4. Financial Forecasts
- 5. The Ask
- 6. How Financials Change By Funding Round
- 7. How Much Financial Data Should Be Included In A Pitch Deck?
- 8. How To Provide Information That Doesn’t Fit On Your Slides
- 9. What Investors Are Looking For In Your Financial Slides
- 10. The Ability To Focus
- 11. How Much Traction You’ve Achieved
- 12. Ability To Maintain Positive Growth
- 13. Financial Responsibility
- 14. Tangible Value & Assets
- 15. Cash Flow
- 16. Break Even Point
- 17. Profit Margins
- 18. Customer Acquisition Costs
- 19. How Well You Know Your Industry
- 20. How You Are Balancing Being Bold Versus Realistic
- 21. Potential For Returns On Their Investment
- 22. Summary
What Financials Belong In Your Pitch Deck?
What financial information should you include about your startup in your pitch deck?
Do You Even Need Financials In Your Pitch Deck?
There may be times when the capital markets are booming, and you might be able to raise money on the idea with a great pitch deck and no financials.
Though even if you are a brand new pre-seed, pre-revenue startup, at least adding in financial projections can go a long way toward recruiting investors.
If you have been operating, then investors will certainly want to see your past financials.
You should at least include the basic high-level numbers for your past two to three years of operating history.
This can be presented in a simple table. Unless you have a more complex and longer running business with more assets and revenue streams, one slide is probably sufficient as an initial snapshot. Just enough to get them moving through your funnel.
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Both brand new and existing startups will want to paint a picture of what the financial forecast of their company looks like.
Again, a single slide, with a simple table, with just the high-level numbers and categories, will often be sufficient.
You do not want to bog potential investors down in detail and create more questions or objections at this point. Those that are serious can be shown additional data later.
You may or may not want to include the amount of your ask and proposed terms for investors on a slide in your pitch deck.
Always remember that savvy investors with great connections can often see far more potential and growth than you might from your perspective. It is sometimes more beneficial to allow them to connect the dots for themselves. They might perceive far more value and rapid growth than you can.
What all will certainly want to know is your intended use of funds from this round.
Don’t dive deep into detail. Rather bullet point the categories of your budget you plan to dedicate this funding to, and the milestones you expect it to enable you to achieve over the next six to 12 months.
Keep in mind that in fundraising and building a pitch deck, 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.
How Financials Change By Funding Round
As previously mentioned, how much is expected in terms of financials in a pitch deck will vary significantly by fundraising round. As well as the types of investors you are pitching.
If you are just launching an idea to friends and family, they might be happy with the rough numbers you throw out, and the dream of what’s possible.
Once you get serious Series A, VC, corporate, or private equity investors, then they are going to want to see tangible data and real numbers.
If you are seeking debt financing, those lenders often feel a lot better if your financials include data on tangible assets that can serve as collateral. Or at least revenue and cash flow data.
How Much Financial Data Should Be Included In A Pitch Deck?
One question that many entrepreneurs get stuck on is how much depth should be provided in financials in a pitch deck.
There are several guiding principles to keep in mind here. The first is that your pitch deck must remain simple and fast to digest. This means that you do not have space to include in-depth financials and many financial slides.
The second is that you want to be able to show your pitch deck to as many people as possible. The more you can get it out in the world, and get it shared, the higher your chances of getting funded. Some notable startups have their pitch decks publicly published online.
There is a lot of financial data that you may not want to put out in public. Especially if it is going to stay up on the internet for everyone forever.
You also do not want to limit yourself by putting in sensitive information that you feel you need an NDA signed to see it. No serious, in-demand investors, or even advisors, and potential hires are going to do that. They just don’t have the time, and can’t afford to be bound by 1,000 NDAs a week.
How To Provide Information That Doesn’t Fit On Your Slides
Since you are limited in volume and depth of what you can put on your pitch deck slides, you need other ways to provide access to more data for the serious investors ready to take the next steps, or who need a little more data to provide a term sheet.
One way to do this is by citing credible sources and using an appendix in your pitch deck. Link out to the sources where you got your data, and what you based your assumptions on.
Your virtual data room is also where you provide more in-depth information. This link can be shared with interested investors.
Inside your virtual data room, you can include:
- A longer form of your pitch deck with more slides
- More in-depth financial forecasts, including breakdowns of expenses and income
- Tax returns
- Cash flow statements
- Income statements
- Valuations of assets owned
What Investors Are Looking For In Your Financial Slides
What is it that investors are actually looking for, and are evaluating you on when it comes to the data on the financial slides in your pitch decks?
The Ability To Focus
One of the most important skills required for a successful startup is the founding entrepreneurs being able to focus intensely on the most important things.
The way you display your financials, and prioritize them in relation to information on your product and other slides will tell investors a lot about your ability to focus.
How Much Traction You’ve Achieved
The result of focus should be execution and the ability to drive traction. For investors, the amount of progress you’ve made so far is one of the best indicators that you will be able to multiply their money and put it to good use.
They are interested in the milestones you’ve achieved, the users you’ve signed up with, and what that means in terms of sales and revenues. Even better if you’ve found product market fit, and have that hockey stick graph. Keep that in mind when working out how to represent financials in a pitch deck.
Ability To Maintain Positive Growth
Success and growth are not organically a straight line. Not even for giant corporations with decades in business. Just look at their stock charts.
It takes strategy, talent, and hustle to be able to keep on driving and maintaining consistent growth over time.
No investors want down periods for their investments. So, show how you can keep up positive growth.
Although there often seems to be a growth at all costs approach in startups and venture capital, financial responsibility is important.
It is important to attract investors who are serious about building a lasting business with you. As well as for building a sustainable business that you will enjoy and be proud of being a part of.
This will show up in your spending in historical financials, and your burn rate. As well as in what you are forecasting in your financial projections.
Tangible Value & Assets
What real assets with value does your company own?
These provide important collateral and reduce the risk of investors losing their capital. Examples of assets may include real estate, equipment, and inventory.
Contracts that provide income are assets too.
Plus, goodwill and patented IP can have value as well.
How much cash flow is coming through your business? That’s a critical question to answer when understanding how to represent financials in a pitch deck.
Even if you are not net profitable yet, cash flow can make or break a startup. It can have a lot of value for investors, as well as potential acquirers.
This provides liquidity and enables investments to be made, and bills to be paid. It can be a big bonus if you have a sizable amount of recurring revenues and a low churn rate.
Your cash flow statement, history, and contracts will show how much money is moving through the business when it comes, and any disconnect between when it comes in, and money that needs to be paid out.
This can help secure a variety of types of equity and debt financing.
Break Even Point
Your break-even point is where your income covers your expenses. This may not provide all the surplus capital you want to make investments or expand yet. Though it means you are keeping the lights on and can sustain yourself, without outside capital.
If you are past the break-even point, then you will be in a much stronger negotiating position with investors.
If you are not there yet, they will want to know when you are forecasting you will hit it. In the meantime, they know you may be desperate for capital. Especially if you have a high burn rate and a short runway.
Adding financial data to a pitch deck is the easy part. But you’ll also want to learn how to present financials for a startup with no revenue. Check out this video, where I have explained how to add projected or estimated information based on facts. You’re sure to find it helpful.
How much profit margin is built into your business model and pricing?
This data point tells investors a variety of things about you and your business, including:
- How you compare to industry benchmarks and competitors
- If you have enough margin to expand with distribution deals
- If your business has enough margin to stay in business
- How much risk you are facing due to inflation or price wars
Customer Acquisition Costs
Customer acquisition costs are a significant metric in startup investing.
If they are too high, it can be a barrier to growth, and make your venture much riskier. The returns on investment in marketing and sales will be much lower for you and your investors.
Good unit economics are key to a scalable startup.
How Well You Know Your Industry
Aside from the math itself, your financial slides instantly tell investors a lot about how well you know your own industry, and business in general.
These slides quickly separate the experienced from the novices and the dreamers from those with the real possibility of success.
How You Are Balancing Being Bold Versus Realistic
Investors want you to be bold and aggressive when it comes to growth and multiplying their money. They need you to go big.
They also need entrepreneurs who understand the basic physics of what’s realistic.
Potential For Returns On Their Investment
Your financials paint a picture of the potential returns on investment for those you are pitching. As well as how soon a return on their capital may be possible. Plus, the amount of risk of complete loss of their capital in the meantime. This is why every entrepreneur must learn how to represent financials in a pitch deck
Financial slides are among the most important slides in your pitch deck.
Investors will typically spend more time on your financial slides than any other slides.
It is vital to understand what financial information to provide to satisfy investors, and maximize your pitching opportunities. As well as to get what exactly it is that investors are evaluating when looking at the numbers.
Get this right, and your next fundraising campaign will be much easier.
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