Guy Kawasaki, expert designer and angel investor, recently blogged about the "The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch". It's a great simple infographic and tool to show you an easy to follow flow that simplifies an opportunity. Gone are the days of the traditional pitch deck that puts people to sleep.

You need a fast paced, simple, story telling deck that keeps investors engaged. VC's and Angels are interested in helping potential investments improve their deck so they can better assess opportunities.

Here's what you need to know to get the attention of today's VC's:

See What Others Are Doing

Serial entrepreneur Ben Way and CEO of incubator Rainmakers Global first recommends you get three pitch decks from recently funded companies in your industry and see what they did. "Venture Capital industry has trends, just like there are trends in design and culture, there are trends in venture. There's no right way to put together a deck, but pay attention to trends. Find a couple of companies who have raised money and see the 2 or 3 decks they raised on and find commonalities in those decks. Tools are becoming easier," explains Ben.

He also advises to remember that pitches and decks vary between industry and geography. "The key is not to see the deck as a static thing, even in different geographies the decks are different. Different types of engagement. There are more financial oriented decks in NY, more technical in SF, and more entertainment in LA. Each has different styles and focus."

Tell Your Story

Your deck should tell a fascinating story. Javelin Partners VC Jed Katz explains, "Tell a compelling story, we want to know you're going to be a compelling leader, you'll be able to recruit, handle complicated conversations, and get the next round of investments."

This means your deck and your team need to tell a unified narrative that anyone can follow. Infographics have become mainstream in social media, and more and more companies are using elements of them in their pitch deck to show the overall opportunity. Simplify the data using infographics in key areas. If you're bootstrapping and can't afford a graphic designer, use a tool like Piktochart or Venngage that allow you to drag and drop a deck in less than a week, and change the colors to match your branding. You can even create matching graphics to add to your executive summary and business plan.

Explain Your Product

Jed also recommends you quickly go over the product in the beginning to avoid confusion for the investor. Your introductory slide should give a very good elevator pitch that tells the investor exactly what you do. Avoid buzz words like "big data in the cloud" (investor Peter Thiel recently gave advice to run from any company using that pitch). Be precise about what you do and who you do it for: "LuxxBride is a mobile app for upscale brides that serves as a personal concierge and matches them with the finest vendors."

What Do Your Customers Think?

Positioning your product and providing the right customer feedback is also essential, claims David Wachtel of Cornerstone OnDemand's Innvoation Fund. As a product development specialist, he always asks entrepreneurs, "What have your customers and clients said about your product? Where have they run into challenges selling it? Where have people been excited? Where have people paused and you've had to explain this particular piece over and over again to a prospect because they don't potentially get it? It doesn't always have to be a cool product. Is it something that's going to accomplish a need is the easy part, actually evaluating what that need really is the harder part and you get that from the feedback from customers."

David suggests a slide that focuses on quotes from the customers being specific about what need the product solves, and focusing on being married to solving the problem rather than the product itself.

Be Memorable

When pitching, entrepreneur and digital producer Kent Speakman recommends, "Be memorable. At the end of the day, people are investing in you... if you are bringing a level of infective positive enthusiasm to the pitch, it's going to resonate with the people who are receiving it. Obviously, you want to follow the standard outline that is to be expected, but bring life to it or bring on a partner that can help you do just that." Kent, Partner of new LA incubator Thunderbolt Engine also suggests emphasizing past team successes and insuring the investors that your executive team is up to the task of executing the project.

The Takeaway

One thing all investors emphasized is that pitch decks are important as a tool to tell your story, but the most important element is the entrepreneur, his or her passion, and their ability to push through even the toughest and leanest times. Fortunately, living in a time of constant communication, investors have easy access to potential investments. If anything is left out of the deck, the investor can easily reach out and call, email, or text for answers.

The passion and the story, however, can't be faked.

Published on: May 18, 2015
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