The do’s and don’ts of using a template for your pitch deck

Obviously, having a good pitch deck is extremely valuable. Often the impact of the pitch itself makes or breaks start-ups: you secure funding to support further growth, or you don’t. It’s that simple. However, often start-ups seem to be underestimate this as they do not make the link between the pitch deck and the potential value it represents (the funding). They often feel so confident about WHAT they are pitching (the service or product) that they forget about spending time thinking about HOW they will pitch it.

 

THERE IS NO ‘STANDARISED’ TEMPLATE FOR YOUR PITCH-DECK

The internet nowadays is swamped with ‘structured’ templates which you can use to build up your pitch deck. Most of them would tell you to structure your deck as follows:

1.     Company Overview

2.     Mission/Vision of the Company

3.     The Team

4.     The Problem

5.     The Solution

6.     The Market Opportunity

7.     The Product

Now, you should be careful with the above structure because:

  • Each service / product is different: there is simply no way to standardise the structure of your deck, because each service or product is profoundly different.
  • You need to tell a story: the above structure disrespects the key principles of story-telling. It lacks the ability to keep the audience (investors) engaged until the end of your presentation. In addition, a story never starts with a company overview, mission statement and description of the team. The vision is the RESULT of you story and should therefore be communicated more towards the end of your deck.
  • The chronology is different for each deck: although the topics themselves should be included in most pitch-decks, the order in which they are presented to investors is different for each deck.
  • What are you solving?: The competitor analysis in a lot of cases should be more closely linked to ‘the problem’ – you outline a problem that the competitors are unable to solve and then explain what your product or service will do differently to solve that problem.
  • How important is the market opportunity?: the market opportunity should come AFTER the solution in case your product or service is CREATING a need among customers, while the market opportunity should come BEFORE the solution if there is a close link between certain market dynamics, the problem and therefore the solution.

The ‘standardised’ structures probably give you a good starting point, but all too often people tend to follow those structures too rigorously and therefore loose a sense of how their corporate story should sound like.

 

TELLING YOUR OWN STORY IS IMPORTANT

An unstructured and/or visually unattractive pitch deck is a symptom of something more troubling: it shows that the start-up has no concise vision of what problem they are trying to solve and how they are going to solve it. A lack of a concise vision, or the inability to communicate it effectively towards an audience touches the very essence of what an investor is looking for: an effective marketing strategy.

Think of a pitch-deck as a set of answers by using this framework. This will force you the emphasise with the investors and therefore help you to understand what the key questions are they want to see answered during your pitch.

Research has shown that investors have four main questions:

  1. They want to understand the problem and why it is relevant to solve that problem.
  2. They want to understand the solution to that problem, and why your product or service is better than competitor offerings.
  3. They want to understand the market you are trying to penetrate and how that market might evolve over time.
  4. They want to understand your financial forecasting and their exit strategy.

 

IN CONCLUSION

These questions have no particular order, you just need to make sure that your pitch deck answers all 4 of them. In addition, it’s going to be important to spend an equal amount of time on all 4 main topics, so include high-level answers and avoid focussing too much on technical details that are not a direct answer to what the investor wants to know.