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How to show your competitor landscape in a pitch deck?

Intelligently displaying your startup’s competitor landscape is a critical part of a successful pitch deck and fundraising campaign. So, what is the best way to show your competition, how you compare, and leverage them into a better business of your own?

The Importance Of Competition In Your Pitch Deck

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    Knowing yourself in life and business is very important, but so is knowing and differentiating your competition.

    Your pitch deck is an important document for you, your internal team, hires, and consultants. It is often the clearest and most usable document for the direction of your company and business planning. Getting the competitive landscape right here can be pivotal for everything you do.

    In startup fundraising, the competition can play a much bigger role than most entrepreneurs can understand. Many go out of their way to deny and downplay competition. That is not the right strategy. It will hurt your credibility and close doors.

    Instead, look at the competitive landscape in your pitch deck as a tool for strategically maximizing urgency, appeal, and value. In many cases, this slide is one of the biggest tests investors will put you through.

    Here’s how to nail it. And, How to show your competitor landscape in your pitch deck?

    Who Is Your Competition?

    The number one mistake most entrepreneurs make in both starting a business and crafting their pitch decks is overlooking the competition.

    If you haven’t done your homework on fundraising and your space, and have completed your market research, then the odds of failure are overwhelming. It’s just a matter of how much time and money is going to be wasted before going back to start from scratch again.

    The second mistake in this respect is denying or believing you don’t have competition. The third is trying to hide or dismiss that competition.

    If you don’t find any active competition in the marketplace now, then a great starting point for any business is to go back and look at previous startup and business attempts in this space. Who else has tried it? Why did they give up? What wasn’t working? What did they discover that you may be overlooking? Talk to the founders if you can. They may be more generous at sharing than you expect. Finding out this information can go a long way to help you de-risk your venture and avoid the same pitfalls.

    Also, Identify Future Competitor Landscape in Your Pitch Deck

    Then consider future competitors. If you do start making progress, get funded, and clock some traction, you can be others who want to get in on that money train. Perhaps some are already quietly working on something similar in the lab. Who are they? It could be other brand new startups.

    Scrappy, fast-moving, bootstrapped ventures that may be willing to undercut you and over-promise to scoop your market share. Or it will be very big companies who want what you have, and can afford to price you out, sue you out, buy you out, or just out-market you.

    The other type of competition may be foreign competition in another market or region, who may want to move into your area.

    If there are current competitors in this space start building a list and database of them. Who are they? What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly? And, what are they planning? How are they different? How can you outperform them? Include this information when figuring out how to show your competitor landscape in 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.

    How To Use Your Competitors To Your Advantage In A Pitch Deck

    Competition can be a huge advantage when fundraising. Use them to frame and position your business, your investment opportunity, and get investors to take action.

    These are three of the top benefits of competition in your deck:

    Validation Of Your Startup Idea

    Contrary to the popular misconception, having a completely new and unique idea isn’t always best. In fact, if you are ahead of your time or it just doesn’t have any other foundation, that can be a big disadvantage.

    Having competitors means that other people believe in this idea too. Maybe they have already proven the problem and demand a solution. Or there may be big and smart companies and investors working on this, validating this is a worthy investment.

    Funding Amounts

    Competition is great for benchmarking funding asks. For example, you are claiming you are better and have an advantage over a competitor in this space, but they just raised a $9M Seed round from some respectable investors. Well then, shouldn’t your company be worth more? Shouldn’t you be able to justify at least a $10M or larger seed round?

    Exit Strategy & Potential

    If larger companies are entering or investing in this space, then that could be a sign there is a good M&A exit on the horizon. It may just be cheaper for them to acquire you. Or for a competitor to roll you up for an even larger public or private exit.

    Your Competitive Advantage

    Competition is fine, as long as you are clear about your competitive advantage. What is it that you do better? What is the one thing you can keep excelling at over the rest of the pack?

    Use your SWOT analysis for clarity on this, and for developing a very strong USP.

    The Competitor Landscape Slide

    In a pitch deck, the competitor landscape is typically best shown in an image or graph, with your company up and to the right.

    Choose your points of reference to plot out how you stand out from your top four or five most serious competitors.

    These factors also come into play as you show alignment with this slide through your solution, product, marketing, and competitive advantage slide, and even team slide.

    Keep Updating the Competition Overview in a Pitch Deck

    Your #1 focus should be on your own business and customers, but keep your eye on your competition, keep updating this slide as you go through your rounds, and plan your next milestones. And, when putting together a fundraising strategy, work out how to show your competitor landscape in your pitch deck?

    You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.

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    If you want to go deeper into the topic you may want to watch the video below where I cover how to show the competitor landscape in a pitch deck.

    * * *
    FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS VIDEO:

    Hi, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about how to show the competitor landscape in your pitch deck. Before we get started, make sure that you hit that Subscribe button, and this way, you will never miss out on any of the videos that we roll out every week.

    Displaying your landscape – the competitors, whether that is directly or indirectly, is a critical part of being able to raise money, showcasing, and putting your pitch deck in the best light possible toward investors. In today’s video, we’re going to be breaking it down and walking you step-by-step through how to put that landscape in motion. With that being said, let’s get into it.

    Who is your competition? At the end of the day, just like Mark Cuban says, there are at least 100 other people that have thought about your idea either directly or indirectly. So, you’re not the first one. Everything, for the most part, has been invented. Now, obviously, you can make it better; you can make it faster, but, for the most part, everything is out there.

    Now, it is a big turnoff for investors when you literally tell them, “We are the first ones to do this. There is no one that is competing with us.” This is the kind of stuff that really sounds the alarm for the investors. They’re going to run in the other direction if you do this. 

    What you want to do is you want to do the research. You want to go online. You want to go on Google. You want to ask people. You want to have those right conversations. You want to try to go to websites like Crunchbase, PitchBook, Mattermark to see who is competing in your own segment. Who is the closest one? And try to dig in as much information as possible because the more that you know, the better you’re going to be. 

    No, the other thing that you don’t want to do is either dismiss them or talk poorly about them because the world is small, and also for the investor, it’s a turnoff when you’re speaking poorly about certain competitors that could actually acquire your business in the future. So, whatever you do, just be polite about it; be diplomatic; don’t be dismissive, and always try to identify who the players are that could take the food off of your table and that are essentially competing directly or indirectly with what you have in mind executing.

    You should also look at potential future competitors because the truth of the matter is, is that when you’re about to launch a business or you’re already executing on a business, the way that you should always go about it is always: think big, but start small, which is essentially building a store into a mall rather than the other way around. Always, entrepreneurs try to go really big. They think too big, and it scares people off. So, you want to start small.

    Also, what you want to do is identify who could be future competitors. Maybe, right now, you want to start small, but as you continue to build, you’re going to be perhaps competing with other players. So, having those players identified and being able to talk about them during some of your discussions can actually really prove on your behalf and then help you so that investors are like, “Okay. Joe Smith or whatever your name is has done their homework, and this is good.”

    As part of the work that you’re going to be doing on researching those competitors is also knowing how much capital they have raised, meaning that you need to do your research and know at the same cycle that you’re in your business in this lifecycle of your business now. How much did they raise? At what valuation did they raise the money? 

    And what you can do is identify four or five competitors, and you literally put yourself right in the middle because that is going to help you during the discussion so that when they talk about valuations, and they even say, “Hey, your valuation is too expensive,” you can say, “Yes, but that is what the market is paying, and in fact, we’re right in the middle. We don’t believe in negotiations because, in negotiations, there’s always someone that wins and someone that loses. We believe in partnerships where everyone wins, and that’s why we did our research and we are exactly in the middle of what the market is paying.” By doing this, you’re going to come across in a very powerful light. So, again, do your homework and try to see all the people that are going up against you, directly or indirectly. How much money did they raise, and what were those valuations?

    As part of the research on the competitive landscape, you also need to take a look at who are the potential players that may be interested in acquiring your business? Typically, you can even put a slide at the end of the deck that talks about this.

    By the way, you can actually look at using the template below, the pitch deck template below that founders are using all over the world to raise millions.

    But here’s the thing: by identifying those potential players that can come in and offer you an acquisition, this is going to help the investor because in many cases, the investor is going to ask you: what is the potential exit? How am I going to be able to get my investment back with some returns? So by identifying some of those players that could potentially acquire you is going to put you in a very nice environment or light toward the investor because they’re going to see light at the end of the tunnel. They’re going to see the potential opportunity of getting that money back with return. So you need to help them to have that type of visibility.

    When it comes down to the competitive landscape slide, this is a very important slide, and people complicate this slide too much. You need to simplify it, and you need to make it clear for whoever is reviewing it. The way that you want to go about it is by putting a diagram where you’re putting all the different players. You put the Y-axis and the X-axis. Essentially, you’re putting the two labels – Y-axis and X-axis. They need to be your strengths that play to everyone else’s weaknesses. That could be something around your technology. It could be something around your distribution or whatever that is. But it needs to be your strengths, and clearly, you’re putting everyone on that diagram, and you’re putting yourself up on the top right because that’s where the eye always goes to. They need to be able to identify you and take a look at everyone else and be like, “You know what? I get it. I get why they’re different. I get why they have an unfair advantage, and that is what is going to get those investors super excited.

    Now, never try to avoid putting people in that slide. Maybe you are concerned about how it will look. Here’s the thing: if you don’t put everyone there on that slide that you should be putting, the investor is going to think that you’re either withholding information, that you’re lying, or that you have no idea about your own sector. So, avoid doing that because remember that the investor is always coming in with a lens of “Why should I not invest in this business?” So never give them extra reasons because fundraising is not about adding concerns. It’s about removing concerns. Ultimately, what separates you and the money are the concerns in-between.

    Remember that the pitch deck is never a complete project or work. The pitch deck is always a work in progress. It’s always a work in which you’re iterating based on the discussions that you’re having with customers, with employees, with investors, or potential investors. Also, what you want to do is keep iterating and keep adding either more players or try to identify how you differentiate yourself from everyone else.

    Again, hit a Like to this video; subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on any of the videos that we’re rolling out every week. Leave a comment underneath so that I know what you’re up to, and then if you’re raising money and you need any help, shoot me a note at alejandro@pantheraadvisors.com. We’d love to help out. Thank you so much for watching.

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want me to help you with your fundraising, just book a call.

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