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Neil Patel

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Are you at the point where you are thinking about why you should include an executive summary in your pitch deck?

Executive summaries have long been a critical part of starting a business and being successful at startup fundraising. How do they play a role in today’s modern fundraising efforts? Should you even have an executive summary slide in your pitch deck? If so, what should you include on it? What other alternative ways are there to deliver this information?

What Is An Executive Summary?

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    As the name suggests, an executive summary sums up your business in a much shorter brief than other long form documents.

    It encapsulates your ideas and business in a very fast and easy to digest format. It is everything in a nutshell, without any of the fluff.

    An executive summary is critical for presenting to those who are busy and pressed on time. Even more important for those who are used to this more traditional way of pitching and funding businesses. 

    Often, this one document or slide will make or break everything. It will either get you deleted and banished, or it will make up investors minds to fund you, and just leave the details of how to structure that to be worked out. 

    They have traditionally been the document commercial lenders and banks have looked for. As well as more traditional investors. It is what they are used to, get and like. So, even if you are using a very modern pitch deck, don’t overlook the importance and value of including an executive summary in this process. 

    Just don’t confuse short or brief with being easy. Most startup founders find it far harder to create something short than to brain dump volumes of information and fluff into lengthy decks and business plans with many pages. It can be harder to be effective and concise. 

    Which is perhaps why most founders fail at fundraising. It’s also why you would want to carefully understand how to include an executive summary in a pitch deck?

    How To Send Your Executive Summary When Pitching Investors

    Many modern pitch decks don’t include an executive summary slide. Many recommendations and slide templates don’t leave room for one. Especially not if you are doing a slick, short and stylish 10 or even 12 slide pitch deck. This is an important point when it comes down to why you should include an executive summary in your pitch deck.

    It can already be a great struggle to condense everything to a short deck that including an executive summary slide may make that even far harder. Or you may feel that you really can’t present it well and attractively with everything boiled down to one slide.

    With this in mind, and to still deliver on a traditional text style executive summary you may want to separate this information from your actual slide deck. You can include a traditional summary as a 1 to 3 page Microsoft Word document as an attachment in the email you send your deck in. 

    Those who want to read it can. Or you can provide a link to it in a Google Drive folder that includes other accompanying documents, like your one page business plan, investor updates, and supporting data. Work out the best way to do this when figuring out how to include an executive summary in a pitch deck?

    Creating An Executive Summary Slide For Your Pitch Deck

    When you are raising Series A and later rounds and have much more information to share, and investor expectations of data are higher, then your pitch deck may be a little longer. It may be 16 to 20 pages to cram it all in. This can still be pretty lengthy and time consuming to get through for busy investors. 

    When they are reviewing 100 or 200 decks before funding a single venture, they are super tight on time and are quick to dismiss any pitches that are slow and too drawn out, boring or uncatchy. 

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    You may avoid getting unfairly swiped to the trash pile by leading with an executive summary slide that shows all of the key data and highlights. If you nail this, they will dig in with the intent of wanting to learn more about you and wanting to fund you. So, how do you do it?

    When tackling why you should include an executive summary in your pitch deck, keep in mind that you can accomplish this on one slide using eight icons and up to three bullets per icon. These will represent the most important slides and factors to investors and get their attention by showing you check the boxes they are looking for in an investment. It tells them the rest is worth reading. 

    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.

    Use these sections on your summary slide.

    Context

    • The problem you are solving
    • The solution you are providing
    • The product you are creating or selling

    Mission & Goals

    • What’s the big vision and mission
    • Where are you at
    • What is the goal

    Market Size 

    • What is the space you are tackling
    • How big is the market
    • How much is it growing

    Competitive Analysis

    • Who are your main competitors
    • What is your competitive advantage
    • How much better are you

    Marketing Plan

    • What is the go to market plan
    • What are your customer acquisition costs
    • How is it working so far

    Financial Plan

    • What are your unit economics
    • What are your sales forecasts
    • What are your profit forecasts

    Timeline

    • When did you start
    • What have you achieved so far
    • What’s the next milestone

    The Ask

    • How much are you raising
    • What terms are you offering
    • What will you use it for

    Summary

    To round off how to include an executive summary in a pitch deck, this section plays a very important role in funding a business. Nailing this can make all the difference in whether the rest of your deck is even seen or not. You may use a traditional style summary in conjunction with a modern pitch deck, or work it into your pitch deck to capture attention and interest.

    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.

    Hopefully this post provided you with some perspective as you are looking into why you should include an executive summary in your pitch deck.

    In addition on the video below I cover in detail why you should include an executive summary in your pitch deck.

    * * *

    FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THE VIDEO:

    Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about why you should include an executive summary 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.

    Including an executive summary in your pitch deck is critical. You are setting up the expectations for what that investor is about to review. Remember that investors only have or only allocate, on average, 2 minutes and 41 seconds per presentation. And, by the way, you can use the pitch deck below that founders are using to raise millions all over the world. In today’s video, we’re going to be breaking it down for you and giving you all those insights on how you go about including that executive summary in the pitch deck. So with that being said, let’s get into it.

    What is an executive summary? An executive summary is a short description of what your business is about. You have the executive summaries that you’re using as a one-pager that you would typically send to advisors or to investors to introduce you to other investors or to people that may know to invest in your business. 

    The executive summary that is the traditional one is completely different from the executive summary that you’re using on a pitch deck because the one in the pitch is more in the format of slides, of PowerPoint, while the other executive summary that is traditional is more like a PDF or Word version. On the deck, the executive summary is a very short description. You can put it in bullets. You can add it with a paragraph, but it also has some visuals either with the product or with the service in action. So you really require that balance from the test to the visual and having those very well weighted in on the slide itself.

    So how do you put together the executive summary that you’re going to be including on the pitch deck? The way that you can go about it is, literally, create a traditional executive summary. Maybe you can put it into one or two pages. Then what you do is you grab the most relevant information from those one or two pages, and you literally summarize it to one single paragraph or one, two, or three sentences that you combine with a few bullet points so that what you’re doing comes across very, very straightforward.

    The way that you want to do this, as I mentioned, you also want to use a really nice powerful visual. You can do it in the background, which showcases your product or your service. But what you want to do is avoid as much text as possible, so try to have a small amount of text that you combine with a visual, so that right away when the investor is skimming through the presentation, and they land on that executive summary that you’re going to be placing on the second or the third slide of the presentation, right away, they get it. And you’re helping them in order to continue skimming through the flow and through the structure of the presentation that you put together for them to review.

    When you’re thinking about taking it a step farther and using a framework that can guide you into how you come across or how do you put together this executive summary within the pitch deck, here is some guidance or a clear structure that you can use:

    Context

    • The problem you’re solving
    • The solution you’re providing
    • The product that you’re creating or selling
    • The mission and the goals
    • What’s the big vision and mission?
    • Where are you at?
    • What is the goal?
    • The market size
    • What is the space you’re tackling?
    • How big is the market?
    • How much is it growing?
    • The competitive analysis
    • Who are your main competitors?
    • What is your competitive advantage?
    • How much better are you?
    • The marketing plan
    • What is the go to market?
    • What are your customer acquisition costs?
    • How is it working so far?
    • The financial plan
    • What are your unit economics?
    • What are your sales forecasts?
    • What are your profit forecasts?
    • Timeline
    • When did you start?
    • What have you achieved so far?
    • What’s the next milestone?
    • NDF
    • How much are you raising?
    • What are the terms of the deal?
    • What will you use it for?

    To summarize it, having an executive summary as part of the pitch deck is going to help you to get the attention from that investor because the attention span is very small. It’s just like Apple. When you buy a product from Apple, there are no instructions, and that’s the way you need to think about a pitch deck. In a pitch deck, you need to handhold the investor throughout the entire presentation, and having the executive summary is going to, right away, if you include that at the beginning, give that framework, that guidance to the investor to understand and to know what they are going to be reviewing. That ultimately will help them to skim faster through your presentation, to get more excited, and to tell themselves, “I get it. I know what they’re doing. I want to have another meeting with them, or I’m actually interested in making an investment.

    So, hit a Like on this video. Also, leave a comment and let me know how you’re thinking about putting together your own executive summary. Then also, subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re rolling out every week. Then, as well, if you’re raising money, shoot me an email 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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