05.07.18

Pitch Deck Blues: Common Mistakes Founders Make

Are you pitch perfect? Or are you boring the pants off your potential investors? There’s a fine line between presenting engaging, useful information and wasting your audience’s time.

These three-minute pitches shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, it’s not every day you’re standing in front of a crowd of people itching to write fat checks to strangers. But many angel investors see hundreds of these three-minute miracles each month, and they can identify the duds from the studs in a heartbeat.

Think of your pitch as a nice suit: perfectly tailored, eye-catching and memorable – not sagging with extra material.

While drafting these presentations is anything but easy, you can give yourself a leg up by keeping a few simple tips in mind. So read up and avoid the pitfalls that have been dooming small-fry startups for decades.

Don’t Forget Why You’re in the Room

You have a message – stick to it. In the first 15 seconds, your audience should know what your product is and what it does. Pageantry and showmanship are great, but not if they distract from your ultimate goal of landing the perfect investor.

Droning on about complex metrics and half-baked market research will only lose people’s attention (i.e. investments). Identify your strongest, most persuasive attributes and hammer them home.

Don’t Use Unintelligible Charts and Metrics

It’s great that you’ve got data and it’s great that you’re company is the leader in its specific discipline, but your slides shouldn’t look like a Tokyo Subway Map. Visual information should be clean, clear and effective.

Some things are indispensable, though. For example, if you don’t understand your Total Addressable Market (TAM), how can your audience?

Don’t Avoid Using the “M” Word

Show me the money. How is your product going to make the big bucks? How would a seed round investment catapult you to the next level of productivity?

Yes, it’s important to identify why your product is fantastic, new and sexy, but how will venture capitalists get their investments back? Who is going to buy it, for how much and why?

Be direct and talk turkey.

Show Them You Have a Plan

Growing pains are real. Is your company prepared for its own success? By mapping out a growth path, you’ll give your investors a glimpse into the future of your company.
Prove to them that your current facility can handle the amount of business you desire. If it can’t, let them know that there’s a contingency plan in place.

Prove Your Ideas are Realistic

Pretending you’re in a make-believe world where no competitors exist might impress your mother, but good luck with that savvy tech investor. Identify your competitors, explain why you’re different and why you’re better. Even though there might be a pack of wild dogs at your heels, why are you swifter and more cunning than they are?

Prove You’re Not a One-man/woman Band

Let your audience know that the person standing on stage isn’t the end-all-be-all of the company. I’m sure you have a wide network of employees, contractors and partners who are willing and able put their noses to the grindstone.

Investors aren’t just buying the idea, they’re buying the team.

Don’t Be Long-winded

A detailed description of your company’s history is great, but not if people are nodding off. Identify the boring parts of your speech and jazz them up. Tasteful jokes, pop-culture references and clever wording will keep someone’s attention far longer than a stiff lecture.

While it’s always important to say what you have to say, what does your audience want to hear?

Have an Exit Strategy

What do you want your audience to remember about you? While all your facts and figures might combine to make an elegant and compelling story, the finer points of your pitch might blend into the background noise of everyone’s hectic day.

Identify the single most important point you want to make and rehash it. Is it your name? Is it your product’s aesthetic? Is it your impressive monetary trend?

Whatever it is, say it twice, say it with confidence, say “thank you” and walk off the stage like a hero.

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