Neil Patel

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Why financials matter in a pitch deck? What is the importance and role of financials in a startup pitch deck?

Financials are a key part of fundraising and pitch decks. In fact, these can be some of your most important slides.

Why do they matter so much? What should they show? What digits are investors looking for in a fundable startup? How might your numbers impact what investors will be interested in funding you, and the terms they are likely to offer?

Let’s take a look at where your financials belong in your deck, the different types of financial metrics that belong on your slides, and the numbers great startups should be putting up…

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

    The Role Of Financials In A Pitch Deck

    Financial slides are those that investors spend the most time viewing. They’ll spend a lot more time looking at your finances and metrics than your product.

    While some of this may be due to how much more dense and complex these slides can be, it also shows their importance and reminds entrepreneurs that no matter what your inspiration or passion is, this is a financial transaction for investors.

    Your financials show what you are focused on in this business.

    They show what you have proven to be able to achieve based on your progress so far. They are key for selling the vision and investment opportunity. Including helping to convey the what, why, why now, and why you and them of this fundraising campaign.

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    Best Practices For Presenting Financials In Your Pitch Deck

    As with the rest of your presentation and slides, your financials should be formatted as simply as possible.

    The data should be quick to digest, so that you can deliver the key highlights and information they need, and speed them through the rest of your slides to take action, in the short amount of time they have.

    Use simple tables and visual charts. Aside from those already built into your slide creation software, you may find financial modeling software beneficial for bringing it all together.

    Answer investor questions with your data upfront. Do not leave it to chance that they will have or take the time to ask for basic missing information.

    Be sure to quote authoritative sources for data that are used for statistics or assumptions.

    Be both aggressive and realistic in your projections. They want you to think big but have a real plan for achieving those goals. That’s one of the key reasons why financials matter in a pitch deck.

    The 3 Types Of Financials In A Pitch Deck

    There may be several types of financial data that you include in your pitch deck. This depends on what stage of business you are at when you are heading out there to raise money.

    Current & Historical Financials

    If you have already been operating, then investors will expect you to include a slide on your current and historical financials.

    This will show your current financial position. As well as how you’ve been performing over the past couple of years. Hopefully, you are able to demonstrate consistent improvement and growth. It is always best and easiest to raise before you need the money, and when you are in a strong financial position. Raise early, and you will have more negotiating strength. Which means better returns, and a wider choice of investors to pick from.

    It is best to keep this slide minimal. You will make additional financial data available in your virtual data room to those who are serious about investing in your company.

    Financial Projections

    Whether this is your pre-seed round or your Series C, you will always want to include a financial projections slide.

    These are forward-looking forecasts of your goals for the business. Three years of future projections is sufficient.

    Investors want to know where you are headed, and what this means for their investment. Though this slide is as much of a test of the financial dynamics of your venture, and you as an entrepreneur, as it is about the size of the actual numbers you throw out there.

    They want to know if you are being realistic, understand your industry, can think big enough, and the math makes sense, and will support a lasting business.

    Other Key Metrics

    You will also have financial-related metrics and data points across your other slides as well.

    Such as your market size slide. Which will show how much the whole industry is worth, and the slice of that market you own, or believe you are capable of winning.

    Your traction slide and customers slide reveals how much progress you’ve been making.

    Any slide on your current fundraising round will show the money you are bringing in, and how it is being invested. As well as potentially the terms of any debt or capital you are taking on now.

    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.

    Where Do Your Financial Slides Belong In Your Pitch Deck?

    The dedicated financial slides will appear around three-quarters of the way through your pitch deck. After your business model slide, and just before your amount is raised, and the use of funds slide.

    You want time to build up the sales momentum in advance. Then bring them back into the flow for your call to action. You don’t want them getting hung up questioning a bunch of numbers.

    Your financials can certainly be a selling point. More so for some types of investors and stages than others. Such as with private equity investors, and those more focused on tangible data. Or seed-stage angels that are wowed by the big potential. So, take the time to understand why financials matter in a pitch deck.

    What Are Investors Looking For In Fundable Startups’ Financials?

    What is it that investors want to see in your financial slides and other data? What will help them determine that you are fundable, and influence the terms that they are willing to offer you?

    Growth Rates

    There are many ways to measure and feature growth in a startup pitch deck. At the earliest stages, savvy investors are looking at week-over-week growth. As you progress, that stretches to months, quarters, and years.

    There will always be challenges. It is those startups that show they can continue to push growth regardless of them that are the most attractive bets.

    The growth rate also signals how fast investors may see their returns multiply and be recouped. Keep in mind the timeline that different types of investors and firms may have to fulfill their own financial responsibilities, and if there is alignment at this pace.

    This may be about revenues, sales volume in units, or profits.

    Profit Margins

    One of the common reasons that startups fail is that the profit margins just aren’t big enough. Thin profit margins make it far too easy to get priced out of business or go bankrupt from competition. In the reverse, nice fat profit margins can help absorb forces that would otherwise put you out of business.

    As a new startup, your profit margin projections should be in line with your industry and must be sustainable when taking into account the various distribution and sales channels you may need to use to scale your business.

    Projections of profit margins that are abnormally low or high for your industry may be a red flag. Unless you preempted this by showing how your innovation is enabling you to operate far more profitably than was previously possible in this space.

    Financial Health & Solvency

    As previously mentioned, raising money before you need it, when you are in a healthy and strong financial position has many advantages.

    It makes your company more attractive. Everyone wants to be on the winning team. You’ll have more power to negotiate the best terms and pick your favorite investors.

    The opposite is also true. Startups often find themselves in a financial pinch. Many wait too late to begin creating their fundraising materials, build relationships with investors, and get out there pitching. Then it takes longer to raise, and they can be on the brink of having to let the team go and closing the doors before they finally manage to wrangle in a term sheet.

    At this point, investors know that they have the upper hand, and can pretty much demand whatever terms and clauses they like. The startup just has no choice but to take the money or give up on their dream. So founders must take the time to understand why financials matter in a pitch deck.

    Cash Flow

    Cash flow alone does not make a great or lasting business. Though it can cover up a lot of other issues. Some types of investors are specifically looking to acquire cash flows.

    Free cash flow that is available to be invested is especially attractive. Consistency and the history of that cash flow are very important. It’s like your W2 or credit report when you go to apply for a home mortgage loan.

    Recurring revenues are a big focus of many startups and their investors.

    What happens if you have yet to start generating revenue? How to present financials for a startup with no revenue? I have put together a video to answer your questions; check it out, and you’ll get all the information you need.

    Expenses

    How much are your expenses? A lot of overhead can sink a business. Too much overhead, that isn’t easily scaled back, can be a dead weight that removes your competitiveness and flexibility.

    Even the largest corporations have found this out when it comes to the burden of office space, and hiring too many people too quickly.

    In pre-revenue startups, and those that are not yet possible, this is shown as your monthly burn rate. It is how much money you are burning through each month, and need to stay afloat.

    Investors will want to know about other liabilities too. Such as lawsuits, settlements, leases, contracts, or debts that need to be paid.

    Unit Economics

    Similar to profit margins, the unit economics have to make sense to have an actual business. The purpose of a business is to make money. You must be able to acquire or create, sell, and deliver your product with sufficient enough profit margins.

    That not only means to breakeven, but to invest in growth, and give your investors an attractive return too.

    How Funds Being Raised Will Be Used

    Startup investing is all about putting in capital to be multiplied. Investors will be looking at how and where you plan to invest their money. Whether that is likely to help multiply their money and make the company more profitable and valuable. Versus sinking money into things that may not be liquid, and could put their capital at more risk.

    Just outline the major categories. Such as sales and marketing, hiring, etc.

    Summary

    Financials are extremely important in a pitch deck. They can make or break your fundraising campaigns.

    This is not just about the numbers you put on your slides, and in your projections, but how you display them, and how they compare to expectations.

    Different types of investors may put more or less weight on different data points at varying stages of your journey. Be sure you have done your homework on their expectations before you pitch them.

    The stronger your financial slides, the easier and faster your round will go, and the better the terms you will receive. And that’s why financials matter in a 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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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

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