Securing investment requires more than a great idea. Beyond a compelling executive summary to tell your story and get you the pitch meeting, you will need to craft a great pitch deck. In my years as an angel investor I've seen hundreds and hundreds of presentations. Without a doubt the best investor presentations use consistent building blocks, have the right assembly and the components are arranged in a strategic flow (which will be covered in the next article). First things first.

You Actually Need Two Versions of Your Deck

Surprise: you should have two different versions of your deck--one that has lots of white space and relatively few words that you use as a back-drop to a live presentation, and one that has enough words that it can stand on its own if you need to email it to someone. Never email the white space one or present from the wordy one. And don't try to get by on just one version. Both mistakes are going to lead to bad results.

Metadata Matters

The single most important data to include in your deck is your contact info--list every single means of getting in touch with you. Put it on the very first slide. Sounds like a given, but the stories I could tell you...

Deck Building Blocks

What does the deck need to have in it? After your contact information, it should cover the following topics in a 10-15 slide deck that can be delivered in 10-15 minutes, no more no less.

1. Customer Problem: description of customer pain and how you solve it--concept & key elements

2. Product Overview: what you do, for whom and why it's compelling

3. Key Players: founders, key team members, and key advisors, with industry backgrounds and expertise

4. Market Opportunity: market size, growth characteristics, segmentation

5. Competitive Landscape: competitors and competitive feature sets, plus your sustainable competitive advantages

6. Go-To-Market Strategy: how you will sell your product

7. Stage of Development: product development, customer acquisition, partner relationships

8. Critical Risks & Challenges: what can go wrong and how you plan to manage it

9. Financial Projections: how much time and money it will take to get to cash flow break-even and five year projections (best to show Yr5 mid-case, worst case and best case with key assumptions)

10. Exit Options: categories of likely buyers, rationales, list of specific likely buyers and comparables with valuation multiples

11. Funding Requirements: how much, what you will use it for, what milestones you can hit

That's it. Trying to do much more is not going to make your pitch more effective--it is merely going to increase the likelihood that you will not get through it, which can be the kiss of death. Details can be drawn out in the Q&A or during subsequent due diligence. Instead you should focus on covering all of the key elements to ensure you get the next meeting. If you have extra material, stick it in an appendix in case you need to flip to it during Q&A.

Tips on Mechanical Construction and Delivery

Mechanics matter too in successfully presenting your deck. Consider these points:

  • Consider avoiding complicated animations or builds in your deck--they make it very hard to go backwards if you need to. Do not build in any videos--it is an AV disaster waiting to happen. Plan ahead to avoid last minute changes to your deck--swapping and fumbling while everyone waits for you makes an unprofessional first impression and wastes your presentation time.
  • You may want to avoid exotic presentation programs like Prezi. Even PowerPoint can be pretty buggy on some machines, so you may convert to PDF, but check the conversion before sending to make sure it didn't introduce any embarrassing formatting glitches.
  • Do not plan to spend time on product demos--just a couple screenshots if necessary.
  • Plan for the worst in terms of screen size: no small fonts. And finally, bring multiple memory stick copies, as well as your own remote.
  • If it makes more sense to use the remote that is provided, get familiar with it before starting so you don't get flustered and make a hash out of your presentation.

With some time up front and some practice, you will be well on your way to having an effective pitch deck.