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How do you create the best pitch deck for Series A rounds?

If you’ve made it this far with your startup business you’ve built something of substance. It’s probably not perfect yet. There are still some things to work out. Though you have some great proof points and the foundations of a great company.

The Series A round is one of the most pivotal fundraising rounds for startups. This is a moment that can make or break your venture. Getting funding at this stage can make all the difference in giving your company gaining the fuel it needs to now become a true, hyper-growth startup with grand potential, versus becoming just another small business attempt.

Closing this round of funding may determine whether you survive past this point, or not. The level of efficiency you have at raising your Series A round will also dictate the condition of your business after the fundraising process is completed, the terms you can secure, and the value of the investors you are able to bring on board.

So, what are the secrets to most successfully raising your Series A round for your startup? What principles and choices are needed for great Series A pitch decks? Which slides do you need to include in your deck? How do you pull it all together and get results with it?

Series A Rounds For Startups

Your Seed round may have been when the first meaningful outside money came in for your startup. Though some startups have even skipped both a friends and family and Seed round, and have bootstrapped all the way to a very strong Series A.

Or you may have brought in several mini-rounds of financing, including a bridge round before staring down the need to raise an A round.

Up to now, you’ve been desperately striving to prove your idea, hone your product, find product-market fit, find a viable business model, with unit economics that put you on track to profit, if you are not profitable already.

This round is about pouring in more capital to finish solidifying this foundation, and fueling growth. It means being able to do things really well, and big.

While $9M to $10M may be an average-sized round at this stage, many, many more startups are raising $20M plus Series A rounds.

Preparing For Your Series A Round

Your Series A funding round is where you are really stepping up to the plate and are getting ready to hit it out of the park.

This is where you go from waiting on the bench, showing off your skills in trying, to getting a real chance to play in the big leagues and become a serious player in your space.

Securing funding at this stage can provide that notoriety and prestige to get noticed by top talent, other investors, customers, and big potential business partners. So, how would you create the best pitch deck for Series A rounds?

Series A Round Investors

For some investors, at this stage, it can often be about pre-empting their competition, to back the winner in this space, and making sure they don’t miss out.

Well-chosen investors at your Seed round have hopefully already been connecting you to the next level of investors you need to complete your Series A. Hopefully, you’ve already spent the last six to 12 months nurturing and concreting your relationships and trust with these investors.

While investors are pushing the envelope at each end, from engaging in even earlier rounds, and now through Series F funding rounds, the Series A is where big, buttoned-up institutional investors start to come into play. VCs often dominate this space.

They are still willing to take risks on this early stage of a startup but have the big money needed to support large rounds and check sizes.

Investor Expectations

To be taken seriously for a Series A round of funding, you should already have a product and some level of traction. Your MVP should be working, even if you have more development going into improving that.

You ought to be able to demonstrate you have achieved product-market fit, and know your unit economics well. Investors at this round are looking for that iconic hockey stick-shaped growth.

Even this growth is more centered on customer acquisition than real revenues and profits. You have the foundations of a viable business. It’s functional, even if still in need of polishing and more capital to get to the next rung up on the ladder.

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.

Series A Pitch Decks

Pitch decks are really the closing factor when it comes to getting funded and acing this round. So you would want to design possibly, the best pitch deck for Series A rounds.

The storytelling and presentation is still far more important than the idea. The math does start to play an increasing role from this point forward, but it is still in all how you tell it and cast the vision for the future.

While you may now have more tangible data and substance than at your Seed round, this is still overall a pretty lightweight deck. It is a sales tool. You still need to stand out and grab their attention, wow them with what you are capable of, and compel them to send that wire.

Your deck is still not the space for wowing them with your technical genius, inner workings of your product, or beautiful code. It’s about exciting them and helping them justify the investment.

You still want to keep your pitch deck streamlined. Unless you have substantial sales and revenues, or a complex business structure then you may need as few as 10 slides in your Series A deck.

Probably 16 at the most if you have a lot to report. Put all the meat and detail you really feel compelled to share in your online data room, not the initial deck itself.

The Steps To Building A Winning Series A Stage Pitch Deck

Where do you begin with crafting a successful Series A pitch deck?

Gather Your Data

Pull all of your info together. Gather all of the data and facts. Refresh your market research and competitor analysis. Be sure you have all of it at your fingertips when you need it for your deck and due diligence.

Identify Your Ideal Investors

Just as you have done with your product and getting to know your customers in-depth before creating products or advertising, you need to make sure you know your investors intimately before attempting to design a single slide.

You may even want to know your target investors in far more detail than your customers. They are the gatekeepers to the capital and connections that allow you to serve your customers, keep your staff, and realize the full potential of this mission.

So, who are these investors exactly? Who are they as individual human beings, not just corporations and institutions? What makes them invest, or not? Identifying your target audience will help you put together the best pitch deck for Series A rounds.

Choose How & Who Will Design Your Series A Pitch Deck

Perhaps you skated through your friends and family and Seed rounds by taking the DIY approach to creating your own pitch deck alone or with your in-house team. There is a lot more serious money on the table at this point.

You are dealing with a whole new level of professional investor now. Their expectations and the bar is set far higher.

The competition is far more fierce. It is a lot more to risk to go it alone at this stage. You have so much more going on in your business, and you’ve invested so much already.

If you are trying to be low-cost, then at least get your hands on a strong pitch deck template that is recommended by active fundraising consultants and investors.

It will greatly speed things up, reduce risk, and increase not only your chances of getting funded at each presentation but also sets you up for better terms and a faster funding process.

When it comes down to designing your Series A pitch deck, you can also enroll the help of freelance writers, and graphic designers. Or you can employ an expensive agency.

You also have the choice of various presentation software. This includes Apple’s Keynote. Though Powerpoint may have a little more depth. Google Slides has also risen to being much more versatile and agile for collaborating with your team, tracking pitch deck performance, and integration.

Pick out the best tools to help you design the best pitch deck for Series A rounds.

The Principles Of A Successful Series A Pitch Deck

The overarching principles for creating a winning pitch deck are:

  • Clarity
  • Focus
  • Establishing credibility and capability
  • Conveying the value and fit of the investment
  • Compelling fast and tangible action

The Best Pitch Deck For Series A Rounds

The Cover slide

Lead in with an attractive cover slide. Incorporate your company name, logo, slogan, and contact info. This slide is about getting them to swipe through and view the rest of your deck. As well as making it easy for investors to get in touch with you when they are ready to act.

The Problem slide

The (problem) is still really important to convey at this stage. You should have extreme clarity and plenty of validation on this by now.

The Solution slide

What’s the big idea? What are you doing to solve this problem?

The Market slide

How big is this market in total? Is it growing? If so, how fast, and in what time frame? Use a strong visual chart here to display the size of this market, as well as your expected slice of it.

The Product slide

This slide should be about a 50/50 split between visuals versus text. For the text, use a simple one-liner and up to three bullet points of the most significant benefits. Include actual images of your product.

The Traction slide

Show off how much progress you have been making. What milestones have you achieved already? Showing how fast you are growing is very important at this round. Investors want to see that hockey stick-shaped visual on this slide.

The Team slide

While the data and math are much more important at your Series A than in earlier rounds, your team is still a very important factor. Use this space to demonstrate how fantastic your team is.

Use profile photos, one-line bios, and job titles for each cofounder. Also include notable advisors you have brought in already, as well as board members who you picked up during your Seed round.

Sometimes the team can be a valuable deciding factor in the best pitch deck for Series A rounds.

The competitor analysis slide

Plot out how you are superior to the competition. Show this as a visual diagram. Use your strategy to position yourself against visible competitors to support your funding request.

The financials slide

Your startup may now have significantly more financial data than you did at your Seed round. If you have substantial sales, revenues, and profits, you may need more than one financials slide here.

This is especially true if you have previously raised money. Still, converting prospects into money in the bank may rely on how well you sell the future vision, including your financial forecasts for the next three years.

The ask slide

This slide is the culmination of everything else. You should already have prepared your ask strategy, and know your path to negotiating.

More important than the amount you are asking for on this slide is how you plan to use the funds you raise during this round.

Use bullet points to convey how you will allocate this capital, and how it will be used to achieve the next round of milestones so that you can raise your Series B round.

The Series A funding round often centers on adding fuel and runway to a company. This may be used to perfect your business model and unit economics, expand hiring, and branch out to new markets. So, work out the best pitch deck for Series A rounds carefully.

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.

In the video below The Best Pitch Deck For Series A Rounds I cover this topic in detail.

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FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS VIDEO:

Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about the best pitch deck for Series A Rounds. 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. 

The Series A Round is one of the most critical financing rounds that you’re ever going to raise. It’s literally the first institutional round meaning the very first time that you’re getting venture capital firms to invest in your business. In today’s video, we’re going to be talking about how to optimize for it, how to build the best pitch deck, and what are some of the secrets and insights so that you can get out there and close the round with a bang. With that being said, let’s get into it!

The Series A Round essentially comes after the Seed Round. The Seed Round is either when you’ve done friends and family, where you got individual investors, angel investors, super angels, whatever that was. Now, you’re at the Series A level. This is the time to shine, the time where you have your product/market fit, where you have the leadership team, where you have the team, where you have the strategic roadmap, and then also, when you have some validations on the revenue, and perhaps product/market fit on the business.

At this point, these are the venture capital firms that are coming in to plug in their networks, their access to subsequent rounds, the access to talent, the access to the money opportunities, or even distribution. Here, you’re essentially looking at raising anywhere between $5 million to $15 million. That is essentially a Series A Round, and the expectations are going to be really on the business where you have been able to validate and when there are clear streams of revenue.

For preparing your Series A, you’ve done some research. You’ve done some research on websites like Crunchbase, Mattermark, PitchBook. Essentially, those have given you access to understand who you need to capture, who you need to go after in terms of investors because when you’re going after investors, you need to make sure that their investment thesis aligns with your opportunity. 

That needs to have the right type of financing cycle. Obviously, here, you’re looking at a Series A, so you want to go after investors that are doing Series A Rounds. You want to go after investors that are specifically focused on your geographic location. If you’re in the U.S., and you want U.S. investors, you’re not going to go to European investors. Right?

The same thing with the industry. If you are, let’s say, in healthcare, you’re not going to go after fintech investors. You want to go after investors that are specifically investing in your segment, in your industry, and in your geographic location, and that is what the investment thesis is all about. First and foremost, you want to prepare this list, these targets, and then what you’re going to be doing is you’re going to go with your materials after that.

When it comes down to the Series A pitch deck, remember: storytelling is absolutely everything. The reason why this is the case is because investors that are investing in early-stage, whether it’s a Series A or whether it’s a Seed Round, they’re not so much going for historicals because the business doesn’t have enough data to be able to understand where things are heading. But, at least, you need to show some validations. 

That’s essentially what you’re going to be including in your pitch deck, where it’s going to be all about the future and all about possibilities, all about enrolling them into the mission, the vision, where things are going, and having them connect with you and with your team and with what you’re doing because ultimately, they’re investing in you and investing in helping you build the business. So, typically, a Series A pitch deck is going to be 15-25 slides. It’s going to have a very nice balance between the images and then also the text, but again, it needs to be a pitch deck that is able to tell them where you’re at and where you’re heading as a whole.

Before getting started with the pitch deck, what you want to do is gather all the data. What this is, is data about your company. It’s data on the market. Maybe you want to take a look at some reports, some research papers, or studies that have been done on your segment. Also, about the data of your own business, so you want to take a look at your credit card processor or tools that you’ve used to understand your lifetime value, your customer acquisition cost, and other types of metrics that may be of interest for the investor to review and you’re going to need to include in the pitch deck. So, gather all the data that you can because data is king, and the more that you have, the more that you’re going to give that assurance to the investor that you know what you’re doing.

Also, you’re going to need to understand who and how the design of the pitch deck is going to be done. So once you have the clear structure and all the different slides that you’re going to be doing, you want to have someone that is able to take it to the next level from a design perspective. Visuals are absolutely everything when it comes to the pitch deck and, more specifically, to the Series A. 

We’re looking here at literally investors spending two minutes and 41 seconds, 2:41 per presentation, so it needs to come across right away with what’s the point? Have a nice balance there between the text and the visuals, and in a way in which you’re leaving the investor touched, moved, and inspired. You can use either an internal designer that you have working for your business. You can use, as well, a designer that you’re finding on Freelance platforms like Upwork. Or you can choose an advisory firm like the one that we have, Panthera Advisors, to really take it to the next level. Now, that’s critical. Do not try to do it yourself if you’re not an expert in design because, ultimately, you’re not going to be putting your best foot forward, and you need to make sure that it is coming across in the best light possible.

If you take a look at some of the best pitch decks out there, whether it is the pitch deck of Airbnb, the pitch deck of Dropbox, the pitch deck of Uber. Any company that has been extremely successful at raising capital, they all have certain things in common, and those are the following:

  • Clarity
  • Focus
  • Established credibility and capability
  • Conveying the value and fit of the investment
  • Compelling, fast, and tangible action

Now, when it comes to the actual pitch deck, you always want to include the type of flow and structure that the investor is used to seeing at a Series A. The slides that you’re going to be including and the order in which you’re going to be including them is going to be the following:

  • The Cover Slide
  • The Problem Slide
  • The Solution Slide
  • The Market Slide
  • The Product Slide
  • The Traction Slide
  • The Team Slide
  • The Competitor Analysis Slide
  • The Financial Slide
  • The Ask Slide
  • The Thank You Slide

During the presentation, you want to use a lot of bullet points. You want to be straight to the point. You want to make sure, as well, that whatever text that you’re putting doesn’t go more than three or four sentences. You can’t afford to be in a position to make them read because then you’re going to lose people because the attention span is very short. 

Think about Apple. Apple, for example, doesn’t include any instructions when you’re purchasing a product. It’s more like an experience when you’re opening the box, the smell. That’s the same thing as when you’re putting together a pitch deck. It’s all about storytelling; it’s all about blowing their minds with you with your story, and that, in a sense, is what you’re trying to do when you’re doing a Series A Round.

Hit a Like on this video. Leave a comment and let me know what you’re up to with your business. And also, Subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re rolling out every week. And if you’re raising money, send me an email at alejandro@pantheraadvisors.com. I would love to help you out with your fundraising efforts. Thank you so much for watching.

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