We often support our clients in creating their pitch decks, and while this is standard practice for us, this August, on a Tuesday morning – we realized we were simultaneously working on pitch decks to collect €60 billion!
Let’s be honest: this IS a lot of money. A lot of scaling opportunities.
We are talking about a range between seed to series a – and
this money is not just about the money: Getting through that next gate of a founding round is equally symbolic.
If you make it there, you make it everywhere.
One of those clients got shortlisted immediately for a top-notch accelerator, the investor meetings are coming in, and they got great feedback. One of the great guys involved even joked:
“now we have to raise the ask by another 30 M. as the story has become so compelling.”
Let us just say: This is exactly what we strive for. Help you raise the evaluation of your company.
So, here are nine insights, so you got an easier time creating your next pitch deck
Insight 1: Seeking investment is a market as such with its own momentum, trends and buzz.
You need to keep an eye on the current buzzwords and where momentum is or is not (after all, you seek funding in the here and now). It does not help to walk around with a story that would have sounded great three years ago – and as well it does not help to be too far ahead (it is risky, and investors know that). Sometimes this can be as simple as signing up for Pitchbook or Dealroom and checking out the investment rounds and buzzwords that are trending there. Of course, this does not mean redefining your business as AI-based if it is not, but it can make a whole world of a difference if what you are doing could as well be called Fintech.
Insight 2: Be consistent and an A-level professional on all channels
Make your team help you by cleaning up / revamping their LinkedIn profiles – no half-baked profile pics, please, with people not really looking into the camera, and shady backgrounds.
Investors will check out the team and the people, and they will do it on LinkedIn first, then go for Google.
Be acutely aware of that and make sure what they find is credible and consistent.
Insight 3: Don’t overdo it. Don’t be desperate.
After all, a pitch deck is ‘just’ that: A pitch. Its one and only purpose is to trigger interest – by the right people (!).
You don’t just want lots of flirts, you want the ones who see the potential and help you develop it.
You wanna trigger fantasy while keeping your feet on the ground. Not an easy balance to strike, we know.
Also, like in the dating game, try to rebalance perspective:
This is about a good match, not a quick and dirty used car’s sale.
Your investors will be happy if they’ve found a good and reliable investment opportunity. Also, do not get overconfident or try to fake it till you make it –
it is a jungle out there and ‘they’ will smell the fear.
No pitch deck can save you from that (though it can help a lot if you know it is truly solid).
Insight 4: Use a Tip of the Iceberg Approach
The real challenge of the pitch deck is to make it sweet and short – and have it convey all the quality that is to be expected underneath. Do not succumb to the temptation to go for lots of fluff that can’t be delivered later (always remember: you need to keep the promises).
We recommend going for the “tip of the iceberg” approach.
A pitch deck created with that approach needs to feel like a quality wine:
You want to make sure it smells and looks tempting and then keep its promise on all levels, hinting at all the possibilities and cool things that could happen.
This creates a valuable side effect: Like this, you can make it known that you have already built a stable base to which you now invite people.
In a way, it is like we also described in our whitepaper about how to build iconic brands / Aicher:
Good visualization and storytelling help you a lot in making sure others get what you already might be having in mind.
Insight 5: The numbers… are never just numbers.
You might think it should be as easy as just putting in the current balance sheet, but it is not. For one, you might not even have one yet. For two, it might not look as intriguing as Amazon’s.
Depending on the industry and its sales and success factors, the relevant KPIs and things to be proud of can differ hugely. It will be essential to walk through the available data from different sources such as market research, marketing and sales analytics, primary market research etc.
This allows you to choose and zoom in where already today, the seedlings and fruits of your work so far can, matter of fact, be seen and trigger the decisive sense of fantasy for a glorious future.
Spoiler: This is a part I especially love as here, one can really make a massive difference in quality vs other people seeking investment.
Insight 6: Trust signals – what will instil trust?
Awards, media articles and accelerator participation are all great. Simply piling up awards (for what?) will not get you millions. In the end, nothing instils trust like solid numbers.😉 Like the one startup that simply made 1.2 M. € in their first year with an investment of 20K and a profit margin of 60%, not having garnered any learning curve or efficiencies yet.
In that case, showing this simple yet impressive chart might be more than enough to gain more investors’ interest.
This is a genuinely luxurious situation; in most cases, it will not be as straight.
In those cases, one needs to look for the first growth signals or indicators to help elevate future growth before seeing it in the balance sheet.
Lots of PR coverage, for example, might be nice; eventually, if they do not help turn leads into clients, they are just fluffy decorations. That might impress first-time investors but not the ones who are really rational about their money and success rate.
In that regard, our job is multidimensional:
- we ‘translate’ what the entrepreneur team has in mind – consider us the 3D printer of entrepreneurial vision
- In many cases, we help shape and sharpen the business model and the story. Indeed, this will make a lot of difference as to how much effort the creation of the pitch deck is
This links in closely with another SUPER important part….
Insight 7: Speak “la langue” of your target group
If your solution is quite tech driven and your product development is advanced, chances are you have built a specific library of words that you and the team use to talk about it. They will probably be really specialized lingo and/or even self-inventions. If you leave it at that, you will quickly lose your audience.
This is a good reason to get external communication experts to come in.
They will have the necessary distance vs the issue.
At OVERW8, we often also use SEO tools to check vs search behaviour at the top of the sales funnel, as this will give us important insights into what to aim for.
Also, investors in your field might
- a) come from the same industry – in that case, you can connect there a bit better or
- b) not at all from the same industry – for those, the so-called wording needs to get an accurate ‘translation’.
In some cases, it might be most effective to simply create two versions, each pinpointed to one of the buyer personas.
Insights 8: There is NEVER just one truth: Shape the narrative
(without bending reality)
We have just published an insightful piece on why this is so important in your startup leadership and how to make sure you make the best use of it: Shaping the Narrative like a Queen: 8 Rules for Great Startup Leadership
Insight 9: You might need individual pitch deck versions
Then, also we need to find an approach and angle that fits the entrepreneur who pitches. If more than one team member delivers the pitches, slightly different versions might be needed. It is like in skiing or mountain trailing:
The route down might basically be obvious, but to get down there safely, you need to do it at your personal pace and swing length.
So, we also need and want to ensure that the person pitching can feel in sync.
Other hands-on Stuff to consider when creating your next pitch deck
The Length of the Pitch Deck
It is a pitch deck, not a whitepaper, so one should be able to digest it in 5-10 minutes, even when sent via e-mail or shared via a link.
As said before, there might be different versions for different situations. We have seen good results by providing lots of detailed info / a solid list of resources that interested investors can quickly screen. They will probably not go too much into detail there anyway, but this will convey the important message that you and your team cover all bases and can be trusted with your sum-ups.
Compare that with a pitch deck that is a pile-up of bold statements without any sources – and you’ll have a clear advantage in the market of collecting money.
This links into why it makes sense to
Plan for different versions and a modular setup
Typical versions to set up:
- The version you use for presenting (shortest, might include a short video, a bit TedX style)
- The version you use for sending it out (this will contain a bit more detailed info plus a list of sources)
- The more detailed info you provide in backup files and/or the data room. Those inputs might indeed go towards whitepaper styles, your marketing and sales plan, your product concepts, maybe market research, focus group results etc.
As hinted at in the tip of the iceberg mechanism, there will be, on the base level, lots of details and facts being distilled to the maximum into the pitch deck to be presented. This also drives home why creating a pitch deck as the first step can be so tricky:
You simply lack the bottom of the iceberg; therefore, no tip to be had.🙂
You will probably need to be flexible about which parts of the deck to show to whom – make sure it is as modular as possible. This will ensure you’re ready to shoot spontaneously and get relevant information in front of the right eyes.
What would/should a good pitch deck cost?
A pitch deck truly is your gateway to THE money. So yes, it should and will be worth some money.
The budget needed for it will depend on these factors:
- How well prepped is the company and its story on a strategy and business model level?
- How pinpointed are the positioning and the main messages?
- Given the assumption, you get external support for it: How decisive and/or coachable are you and your team?
- Does a well-set-up brand (incl. values, story) and CI already exist – or does one need to set up at least an interim version?
It is simple: If those things still need to get done (they will need to get done anyway), you need to budget for them. You will need these elements for the pitch deck creation and many other things, such as sales material. Whether you consider this the same budget or not is a question of taste. I recommend not adding it mentally into the pitch deck budget but the overall marketing/sales/go-to-market budget.
If creating a pitch deck is offered to you for 1.500 € and done with an existing template, please just stay away from that.
It will probably not do the job.
Also, if people promise you to do that based on your kind of existing business plan: Do not believe them.
They will do it, and it will get you nowhere.
You personally will have to do all the selling, and the pitch deck will just sit there doing nothing to help you or worse: making your challenge even harder.
How long does it take to put a new pitch deck together?
This will therefore depend heavily on four factors:
1. How much preparational work has already been done
2. How much conceptual work needs to be filled in on the go
3. How focused/committed one is to get it done NOW (that meeting set up in 3 weeks can be a huge motivation)
4. How much support you’ll get, or can afford
If you hire a really good agency (such as us ;)), expect this to take 3-6, max. eight weeks depending on the starting point.
Kill them with a smile: 3 Straight-On Killer Apps
Ok, to wrap it up, let us give you some insights into the elements you can add to give your pitch deck a special edge.
Killer App 1: Tackle the typical blind spot boldly – the competition
Ok, so this here is a difficult one.
You would never believe how much I personally have already fought to put really good market research overviews into those decks. I cannot lie: I nearly never get anyone to do it. Still, we should always come in from the target group’s perspective – in this case, from an investor’s perspective.
So let us switch into the pants of an investor for a minute. I, as that investor, would want the team of the company I invest in to be acutely aware of what overlapping markets exist (in a blue ocean situation, the market might still shape itself, but there will ALWAYS be an environment. Your company is not an island.)
You don’t grow a company in a vacuum.
It is essential to always keep an eye on what’s happening around you, as it might indeed shape significant decisions, and it should def. inform brand creation, making sure there is a robust differentiating message.
So, this is also a huge opportunity – as ‘the others’ will most likely try to get away from it, too.
Show authority and tackle it directly with boldness.
„You have to be Different, Great or First“ – Loretta Lyn
Killer App 2: Make it seamless
Even though this might sound evident, it only happens in 10 to 20%. Your advantage if you get done!
- Be consistent over all channels: Make sure the website, LinkedIn profiles etc. convey the same look and feel and messages.
- Do not think you will get away with an oversimplified webflow page. Pros like us recognize them as such in a second, and the others just do get that weird feeling that it ‘looks somehow professional, but where is the content?’. See also: Tip of the Iceberg. Invest into some substance and give yourself a chance for a quicker and higher quality investment round.
KillerApp 3: Create one or several really good infographics
Those can really be game-changers. See one of them, for example, in the Cleyond showcase. In that case, the infographic changed the game from “hm, sounds interesting. so what does your technology now actually do?” to a “ah, of course, obviously, makes sense” head nod.
Do not hesitate to invest your brain, communication skills and effort into this – whether you take care of that yourself or get support for it. Especially if you are not in a situation where you can simply show whatever it is to people, yet.
Ah, and you might be wondering about video… yes, that can be good and helpful – but again: It needs to have a good concept, storytelling structure, and quality – otherwise, it will convey a fluffy foggy feel.
This kind of feeling is definitely to be avoided.
If you get this to an “ah, yes, obviously” level, this alone can be a game changer.
The best possible outcome: A pitch deck that is a true companion for you.
Indeed, the really well-done pitch deck has a job: To help you sell. Help you get investors on board – the right investors at best. A good pitch deck helps you deliver your pitch in such a good way you get lots of positive feedback and valuable interest.
Precisely like that client who called me up on Thursday in September telling me excitedly:
“They just loved it! We got lots of real interest coming in – it just worked like a charm. Thanks again!”
That is what we aim for and love to see happening for you, too.
Let us know…
- Which of those hints and insights came as a surprise to you?
- Which will you put on top of your checklist for the next pitch deck?
- And what would you like to share or add?