What is the best pitch deck for seed rounds? In other words, what is the best formula for a seed round pitch deck?
The Seed round is one of the most important fundraising stages for startups. This is a pivotal moment that can make or break your startup. Getting funding at this stage will make all the difference in giving your venture the fuel it needs to become a true, fast-growing startup with big potential, versus just another small business attempt.
It may mean all the difference in whether you survive past this point. How efficiently you are at raising a Seed round will also dictate your survival, the shape of your business after the process is complete, the terms you can achieve, and the investors you are able to bring on board.
So, what are the keys to most successfully raising a Seed round for your startup? How would you identify the best practices for great Seed round pitch decks? What slides do you need to include? What do you do with it once your deck is polished?
Seed Rounds For Startups
This is when the first meaningful outside money often comes in for a startup. It’s seeding the company to really get going. Getting the financial start and fuel to really have a chance, and to have a chance to do things well.
These rounds can range from as little as $10,000 to tens of millions of dollars.
Experienced entrepreneurs seem to be increasingly skipping the pre-seed round, and are bootstrapping up to a larger Seed round, where they have more power in raising from investors.
Though as a brand new, first-time entrepreneur, you may need a pre-seed, and benefit not only from the financing but the investors and credibility an earlier round can provide.
Preparing For Your Seed Round
Unless you are a serial entrepreneur with a few big rounds and startup exits under your belt there is a lot of work to do. You need to build your credibility, network, get introductions, build relationships, and work that marketing and PR. and, you’ll need to devise the best pitch deck for seed rounds.
At this stage investors expect you to have done sufficient research and have enough data to warrant pursuing this and taking up their time to listen to you. They also know that it is early days, there is going to be a lot of iterating ahead, though you’ve also done a lot of the groundwork already.
They are looking for validation of the problem. That you are in a really big space with lots of room to provide super-sized returns, and that you have the best team to bet on in this race.
Perhaps most importantly, they are looking for proof of execution, ability to push progress, and that you understand the startup game and future raising and exiting as much as your field of business. This is what will serve their investment well.
Types of investors can vary widely at this phase of the fundraising game. They may consist of individual angel investors, startup accelerators, college grants, and even big well-known VC firms.
Sometimes you just need the money. Though repeat founders who don’t even need the cash often use this fundraising opportunity to simply bring in great investors for their experience, credibility, connections, and other resources.
Use Of Funds
Common and typically acceptable uses of funds from a Seed stage round may include completing your MVP or enhancing the current initial product. To make high-quality hires to round out the team on the development and operational and marketing and sales sides.
Most importantly, this round is about getting the capital and financial runway to achieve the milestones you need to cross off to qualify for a strong Series A fundraising round.
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.
Seed Pitch Decks
Pitch decks are really the number one factor in closing and acing this round of funding.
Far more important than the idea, product, sales, revenues or profits, and your resume is how it is all told in the pitch deck. It is about storytelling and presentation.
Overall this is a lightweight pitch deck. It is sales material. A brochure if you will. It’s about standing out to grab their attention and powering them through to taking instant action.
It is not about wowing them with your technical genius, beautiful code, or inner workings of your product.
Keep these factors in mind when designing the best pitch deck for seed rounds.
Steps To Building A Winning Seed Stage Pitch Deck
Where do you start with creating a successful pitch deck?
Gather Your Data
Get all of your information together. Gather all of the facts. Refresh your market research and competition analysis. Make sure you have all of this at your fingertips when you need it.
Identify Your Target Investors
Just as with your product and getting to know your customers intimately before writing a line of code or crafting a single ad, you want to make sure you know your investors before attempting to create a single slide.
You may even want to know your ideal investors far better. After all, they are the gatekeepers to the gold that will allow you to serve your customers, keep your employees, and realize the full potential of this venture.
Who are they exactly? Who are they as individual humans? What makes them tick and invest, or not?
Choose How You Will Design Your Pitch Deck
How will you create the best pitch deck for seed rounds? Who will build your Seed round pitch deck?
The simplest hack for pitch deck creation is to use a proven pitch deck template. One which is recommended by active fundraising consultants and investors. It takes out all of the guesswork, and will dramatically slice the time burden, while greatly increasing your odds of success.
You may create your deck yourself. Especially if you have a good advisor, some strong design skills, copywriting and sales talent, and plenty of free time.
Or you may find it more efficient and effective to hire a design agency, or freelance writers and designers to get it done professionally and expediently.
If you will design it yourself, then you also need to pick which software you’ll be using. Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides are two of the most commonly used.
While Powerpoint may have a little more depth, Slides may be much more agile in today’s world. It offers a lot of integration and collaboration and enhanced productivity capabilities, without the distractions.
List your Slides
Create the framework for your deck, by listing out the slides you will use before getting started filling them in. This will help ensure that you stick to a tight slide count, and focus on getting the right data boiled down on each slide.
Overriding Principles Of A Successful Seed Deck
The guiding principles for creating a pitch deck that gets funded should include:
- Demonstrating focus
- Establishing credibility and capability
- Conveying the attractiveness and fit of the investment
- Compelling real action
Even as you’re creating the best presentation to raise financing, you would also want to plan how to crush it with your pitch deck on demo day. Check out this video I have put together that gives you an overview of how to plan for the big day.
The Best Pitch Deck For Seed Rounds
Start well, with an attractive cover slide. Include your company name, logo, slogan, and contact information. This slide is the key to getting them to swipe through and view the rest. It should also make it easy for them to get right in touch with you when they come back to look up your presentation again.
You can fail at getting just about everything on the first try, but not the problem. This is the real foundation of your venture. Many successful entrepreneurs have stuck out and even raised money just based on the problem they want to solve alone.
Make sure it is strong, painful, urgent, and big. Even better if people are already seeking out and paying for a solution to it. Be sure you really, really understand it and have verified it.
What are you doing to solve this problem? What’s the big idea?
How big is this market? Is it growing? By how much and in what time frame? Use a strong visual diagram to display the size of this market, as well as your anticipated slice of it. This is a critical facet of the best pitch deck for seed rounds.
At least 50% of this slide should be visual versus text. For your text, use a simple tagline and up to three bullet points layout out the most significant benefits. Use images of your product.
Preferably in action by your target customers in a real-life situation. Screenshots and images of prototypes are also acceptable if you don’t have sales or a completed product yet.
How much progress have you made? If you haven’t started sales, then what milestones have you checked off? If you are closing customers and sales, investors want to know how fast you are growing.
This is incredibly important to them. The growth rate is more important than sales dollars or profits at this point. Investors want to see that hockey stick-shaped graph on this slide.
Use this space to show off how great your founding team is. Use headshots and one-line bios and titles for each cofounder.
You can augment any missing skills or credibility by including notable advisors you have brought on board already. This may also include credible board members which you picked up during pre-seed rounds.
Competition analysis slide
This is where you can plot how you are better than the competition. You will have competition. Use this to your advantage by positioning your startup against them, rather than trying to ignore or hide them.
This is best displayed as a visual diagram. It can sometimes be especially useful to not only position against famous brand names but other startups which have raised significant capital at your round from notable investors.
Presenting this information accurately is an essential feature of the best pitch deck for seed rounds.
You probably don’t have much in the way of revenues or historical financials to report at this stage of fundraising. Use this space to focus on the forecast of what you will achieve over the next 12 months, and then three to five years out.
Keep it simple. Show you know your industry and math, but don’t distract investors here. Use a simple spreadsheet-style table with just a handful of rows of data.
The ask slide
Here is where it all comes together. Be sure you have done your homework and are not asking too little or too much given the current landscape, your stage of business and the check sizes your target investors are handing out.
What may be most important on this slide is your use of funds. Use three bullet points to list the categories where you will put their capital to work for the best returns. This may include making important hires that will increase your competitive edge in this space, completing development or the latest iteration of your product, unleashing your go-to-market plan, and scaling your marketing and customer acquisition efforts.
The Data Room
Instead of trying to cram more info onto your slides or more slides in your Seed round pitch deck, put your additional data and supporting documents in a virtual data room in the cloud.
Pass out links to this folder, and your pitch deck, instead of trying to send any of these documents as attachments. Other info in this folder may include investor updates, extended versions of your deck, business plan, and marketing plan.
Putting Your Deck To Work
While your Seed pitch deck can have personal and internal uses, it isn’t going to help you put a single dollar in the bank until you start putting it to work. Practice your pitch, test it and get feedback.
Then begin connecting with investors on Linkedin, through advisors, by sending emails, networking, and applying to pitch opportunities and startup accelerators. Make sure you present the best pitch deck for seed rounds.
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.