How to prepare the best startup pitch for investors
Surprisingly enough, most of the pitch documents which I’m getting are done really badly, or are not good enough to attract the attention of investors. Some of those startups have got a caliber of mentors and advisers, and still – the documents which I’m getting are not focused, badly written, badly designed (or overly fancy designed) and sometimes shameful.
You need to understand that a startup pitch is not written for yourself or for your friends or advisers: it is written to attract the attention of a stranger, someone which most likely is experienced in business, and busy as well. Experienced business (wo)man see beyond the bullshit – they are looking for an opportunity, not for a walk in fairy tale. When you do your startup pitch slides, you must know that:
- investors do not read pitches, they just flick through them very fast
- you got only one short minute to attract attention and need to achieve this in the first 4 slides – if you failed, most investors will not devote the time to read the rest of it or to communicate with you at all.
- There are lots of time wasters out there, and investors are busy people. Make sure you distinguish yourself from time wasters.
- When you approach investors, do it right. Don’t send information before you ask a person if they are interested in getting it. Respect and get respected. Develop relationship and trust, before you ask for help or for money from people.
5 critical basic thumb rules for writing your startup pitch
1. Keep it to no more than 12 slides 13 slides max, including the title slide and the “thank you” slide. It means that your content must fit within 11 slides to the most. Yes, I’m serious, even if you were told differently.
2. Every word is gold. Make it short, precise, accurate.
3. Never use tiny font / excel tables or detailed information. Use just headlines and summaries.
4. NEVER use basic stock images. Once content is finished, give it to a professional designer to tidy up. Better not to use images at all than to use stock images.
5. A pitch is a result of a research – it is not part of your research. Make sure you can stand behind every words and claim that you write in your pitch, with business plans, calculation spreadsheets, references, answers to common questions and detailed ideas. Get prepare to send those, but only if you are been asked to.
The ideal startup pitch: what to include
The most common scenarios of a startup pitch are: problem -> solution and opportunity/cause -> scaling. Opportunity is when someone else is doing something but not as good as you offer or when you have a unique technology / invention which require funding before you may get any clients.
– Slide 1: Introduction. This slide would include your vision statement (one sentence) and your contact details
– Slide 2: Problem. what are you trying to solve (or what are the weaknesses of an existing systems/products/processes)
– Slide 3: Solution. how are you going to solve the problem? This is a high level page, just to create interest (“oh looks interesting, lets see how they plan to do it…”)
– Slide 4: Market. ok great – but is your solution wanted by the market? what is the market size (in dollars)?
– Slide 5: Product – now describe or show your product (“looks nice, lets see if we can make money out of it”)
– Slide 6: Technology / Intellectual property – what is unique, smart, innovative about your startup.
– Slide 7: Business model: how are we going to make money? Subscriptions? Sales?
– Slide 8: Market adaptation: how are we going to actually do it. Is there a way to scale / get to market? Have you validated / managed to sell / got income already.
– Slide 9: competition: who else is in the market, and what is your advantage?
– Slide 10: the team: who are the founders?
– Slide 11: funding: describe how much money you want, and what are you willing to give for it (how much equity)
– Slide 12: thank you – and add again your contact details
Note that in this format, you got space for one extra slide in case you wanted to expand about anything else
Research can take time
The pitch deck is just a reflection of how seriously you have done your research. A proper research of the market size and market adaptation can take time. You must have a serious excel analysis behind your numbers, that can explain your claims.
Make sure your ass is on the line
Investors are not stupid people: if you are not putting your ass on the line of your own startup, why would they? You need to invest from your own money to build an MVP, get clients or prove its market validation, design your pitch, get training, etc. Otherwise, it won’t work.
- Make sure you don’t have spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes or typos (if you now tell yourself: this blog posts is not immaculately written, so I could do my pitch on the same level – you haven’t understood the point: a blog post is not a pitch!)
- Content must be accurate, and sharp. Think about it like text messages or like standing in the middle of a gladiators battle while you got 5 seconds to convince the audience to save your life.
- Give your pitch to at least 5 native English speakers to look, comment and correct mistakes.
Once you finished to do your pitch, hire a professional designer to tidy it up. Don’t over design it, but make it look respectful and tidy.
Founders and advisers
More than 3 founders are not only bad for your startup, but will repel investors – as the most common failure of companies are miss-agreements between founders. You want to keep it simple. Also, listing / having ore than 3 advisers are bad for your look.
I recommend to NEVER list advisers which are not really involved or do not know the details of what you do, to make this point clear – if you don’t speak with your adviser at least once / twice a month, DO NOT list them as advisers even if they are top famous and supportive of your venture: reason is, that lies would be revealed at some point of the negotiations. If someone famous is supporting you, list them as “supporters”. An advisers is an adviser, a mentor is a mentor and a supporter is a supporter – always stick to facts.