Funding a startup frequently requires securing some type of capital investment from other individuals or entities. Sometimes those arrangements are made through venture capitalists or angel investor groups. This process is not simple and will be time consuming and challenging.
When approaching the capital investor, most startups use a pitch deck, or set of presentation slides, or possibly video, to make their pitch for funding. Because of the time required to prepare such a pitch deck, it is important to get it right.
In a blog post titled A Guide to Investor Pitch Decks for Startup Fundraising, Richard Harroch, Managing Partner and Chief of Global M&A at VantagePoint Capital Partners, gives some excellent tips on preparing a pitch deck.
Harroch writes: “Too many entrepreneurs make a number of avoidable mistakes when creating their investor pitch decks. Here is a list of preliminary do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.” (For the full article, click the link above. Here are Harroch’s lists.)
- Do include this wording at the bottom left of the pitch deck cover page: “Confidential and Proprietary. Copyright (c) by [Name of Company]. All Rights Reserved.”
- Do convince the viewer of why the market opportunity is large.
- Do include visually interesting graphics and images.
- Do send the pitch deck in a PDF format to prospective investors in advance of a meeting. Forcing the investor to get it from Google Docs, Dropbox, or some other online service just puts up a barrier to the investor actually reading it.
- Do plan to have a demo of your product as part of the in-person presentation.
- Do tell a compelling, memorable, and interesting story that shows your passion for the business.
- Do show that you have more than just an idea, and that you have gotten early traction on developing the product, getting customers, or signing up partners.
- Do have a soundbite for investors to remember you by.
- Do use a consistent font size, color, and header title style throughout the slides.
Don’t do this:
- Don’t make the pitch deck more than 15-20 slides long. (Investors have limited attention spans.) If you feel you need to add more information, include it as an appendix.
- Don’t have too many wordy slides.
- Don’t provide excessive financial details, as that information can be provided in a follow-up.
- Don’t try to cover everything in the pitch deck. Your in-person presentation will give you an opportunity to add and highlight key information.
- Don’t use a lot of jargon or acronyms that the investor may not immediately understand.
- Don’t underestimate or belittle the competition.
- Don’t allow your pitch deck to look out of date. You don’t want a date on the cover page that is several months old. (That is why I avoid putting a date on the cover page at all.) And you don’t want information or metrics in the deck about your business that look stale or outdated.
- Don’t have a poor layout, bad graphics, or a low-quality “look and feel.” Think about hiring a graphic designer to give your pitch desk a more professional look.
In addition to these tips from Harroch, the Naperville Public Library print collection offers several excellent books on the subject that may be helpful to the startup entrepreneur preparing to request capital investments through venture capitalists or angel investors. Here are a few titles to get you started. The first three may be borrowed; the last one is available at the Nichols Library for in-library use only.
The library’s online resources are also quite helpful in the preparation of a pitch deck. For instance, LinkedIn Learning offers several related courses, including one titled Raising Startup Capital. (A Naperville Public Library card is required for this link.)
In his post, Harroch also provides some links to sample pitch decks that might be helpful, including:
- Google’s Template Pitch Deck for Startups
- LinkedIn’s Pitch Deck for Its Series B Round
- Facebook’s Original Pitch Deck from Spring 2004
- Airbnb’s Pitch Deck for Its Angel Round
- Mint.com Pre-Launch Investor Pitch Deck
For more information about this and other topics, consider registering for the NaperLaunch Academy workshop series or scheduling a one-on-one appointment with a business librarian or NaperLaunch coach.