How To Make Your First Startup Pitch Deck
Ready to create your first pitch deck and raise your first round of startup funding?
Pitch decks are deeply coded in the DNA of startups. Every startup company needs one. Especially when it comes to fundraising and financing the venture. Pitch decks also come in handy when addressing the issue of how to value a startup without revenue, which startups and investors always struggle with.
Creating a pitch deck for the first time can be a daunting task. Many don’t know how to approach it. Everything relies on getting it right. Some entrepreneurs may charge in thinking that they can make it just like any other presentation or business plan they’ve created in the past, and that just won’t fly either.
So, what is the best way to make your first startup pitch deck?
The most apparent use of pitch decks in startups is for fundraising. Don’t attempt to raise without one.
It is important to remember that as a startup, you are up against thousands of other entrepreneurs and companies, all bombarding investors with their pitch decks. So, it has to be great. In fact, it will need to be in the top 1%, or top 0.1% of all pitch decks being sent and presented in order to secure the funding you are hoping to raise.
Even before you get to the fundraising stage, pitch decks can play a pivotal role in your company, and its future.
One of the first things on your to-do list when strategizing and launching a new company will be to consult advisors, and bring them in to help guide you, and even add credibility to your venture. They are busy, in demand, and have to be careful about what they lend their names to. So, before they give you any of their precious time and attention, expect them to ask to see your pitch deck to see if they see anything promising there.
The same applies to recruiting co-founders and other top talent, including those that can help create your supporting materials and market your fundraising campaign. The best are busy, hammered with similar requests, and selective in who they can afford to align themselves with.
There are several important factors to think about before you begin creating pitch deck slides.
What is the funding goal you will set for this round? Depending on your fundraising strategy, this may differ from your actual ask.
This requires understanding what it will cost to get through to your next major business milestones. Then add enough financial cushion for budget overages and funding for your next fundraising campaign.
Who has the type of money, other resources, and experience you want to put on board in this round?
Knowing who you will pitch to will help guide many of your other decisions in this process. Be sure you customize your deck for your target audience.
While there may be many fantastic things about your business and product, even the most accomplished investors are challenged to remember more than one to three points from each startup pitch deck they see. If you don’t want to gamble on what that one point may be, it is wisest to hone in on the most important and vital for standing out, connecting with them, and getting funded.
If you have a strong background in marketing, presentation creation, and pitch decks, you may do well at creating your own.
Most entrepreneurs do not have this experience, especially at the level required to succeed.
Pitch deck creation agencies can be very expensive. Some may charge up to $50,000 or more. If that is not in your budget, the alternative is to create an on-demand outsourced team to handle the strategy, copywriting, and graphic design. Each of these may be a separate skill set.
The next step is to create the framework of your pitch deck. This way, you know what slides you have to fill in, how many you have, how much space there is, and what other information you may need to gather.
You can hack this step of the process by using a proven pitch deck template that you can simply fill out and customize for your own startup.
- Always err on the side of keeping your pitch as simple as possible
- Early-stage startups should be using no more than 10-16 slides
- Use colors that match your branding and make your text stand out
- Opt for large font sizes that can be seen from the back of the room
- Avoid making these common mistakes when creating your first startup pitch deck:
- Trying to explain all of the technical details of your product
- Cramming too much text on slides
- Using difficult-to-read fonts
- Failing to make your contact information easy to find
- Using too many slides
Your first pitch deck may be the most challenging to create. Though, it will not be your last if you are successful with it.
Simplicity is still the name of the game when it comes to winning over investors. Yet, while your team members, story, and market size may be the most significant factors in funding early-stage startups, that can shift as you grow.
Later-stage startups can expect investors to emphasize the data and financials more. As your business model, organization, and product lines grow more complex; you may justify incorporating a few more slides. However, you should still avoid breaching the 16-20 slide threshold.
While pitch decks should be simple for your audience to understand and act on, creating a winning deck may be more complex than many think at first.
Unless you nail your first deck, you won’t get the chance to create follow-up decks for future funding rounds.
Try incorporating these tips, and recruiting the best help you can to make your first startup pitch deck a winner.