For entrepreneurs seeking venture financing, putting together a pitch deck is a necessary evil. But don’t let the arduousness of the task cause you to lose sight of the importance of a good pitch deck. The statics are daunting—less than 50% of the companies that receive seed financing survive to Series A, and fewer than 25% make it to Series B. A good pitch deck alone won’t win you your next round of financing, but a bad pitch deck can certainly lose it for you.
While researching what makes a good pitch recently, I came across a Crunchbase article that provides actual examples of good (and bad) slides from real-life decks. Based on my own experience and complemented by this article, here are my top five takeaways regarding how to create a successful pitch deck.
1. Keep it Simple
- General look and feel
When it comes to pitch decks, the simpler, the better. Don’t let unnecessary elements distract from the information you’re providing. This means:
- No crazy colors
- No fancy fonts
- Readable font sizes throughout (especially in tables of numbers)
- No unnecessary pictures
Make sure timelines, charts, and other graphics are clear, simple, and informative. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but don’t try to cram 1,000 words about your business into a single graphic. You should be able to describe in a single, simple sentence the message a reader should be taking away from each graphic.
- Speaking of words: less is more
No one wants to read a lengthy essay about your value proposition. If you can’t succinctly capture what your business does and what problem it’s solving, you may not be ready to pitch to investors.
2. One Size Does Not Fit All
You should tailor your pitch decks to each specific audience and situation. Know who you’re pitching to and look at the presentation through the eyes of your potential investors.
- Are they a strategic investor thinking about a possible future acquisition of the company? Are they a venture capital (VC) with an existing portfolio company in a similar space?
- Are they a family office looking to make a specific impact with their investments
- Focusing on this information will allow you to get in the mind of the investor to create an effective pitch deck.
3. Get Technical, but Not Too Technical
- VCs will want a general understanding of your technology, your expertise, and what differentiates your business
- However, they don’t want a technical white paper detailing all of this
- Investors want to know that you understand the relevant industry key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Know those KPIs and present them clearly and honestly
- Be careful with buzzwords
- You want to demonstrate your domain expertise but don’t want to lose credibility with excessive use of buzzwords
4. To Video or Not to Video?
The answer is always no. Nothing kills the flow of a great pitch meeting faster than a glitchy or non-functioning demo video of your product. If you want to showcase your product in the pitch deck, screen shots and pictures are a safer bet.
5. Check Your Ego at the Door
It’s often said that VCs invest in teams more than ideas, but that doesn’t mean you need your entire resume laid out in the pitch deck. Emphasize the pieces of your background that are most relevant to your business and industry. If there are holes or gaps in expertise on your team, be honest about that too.
When it comes to pitch decks, focusing on the “wow” factor instead of the facts and figures can be detrimental to your chances of receiving venture financing. Don’t rely on flash and flare to get to the next stage—keep your decks clean, concise, and clear, and let your business idea speak for itself.