The Pitch

Preparing a compelling presentation to investors is the first step in attracting capital. No matter how much time how much time you are given, it’s never enough. At various angel investors meetings, you may be allocated a fixed time that can go anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. Any that go longer are in the one on one category rather than crowds with many presentations. And angels often wonder why this or that wasn’t covered when it is them who set the time limit!

So what should you include in a pitch deck? I suggest you start with a high level overview. Think of your business plan like a book. If you have only one minute, you can only cover the highlights in your executive summary whereas if you have ten minutes, you can summarize your chapters.

There’s no shortage of suggestions on what should go into a presentation. Every investor is unique in what’s important to them. Here are my biases, which after 40 years of listening to pitches, will resonate with most investors.

Let’s start with the proverbial elevator pitch. That can even be less than one minute! I’m not sure where this “template” came from. I’ve been suggesting it for decades. It goes something like this:

We, (Company)___________, are (doing?)_________ for (who?)_________ who need (address what pain?)___________  that unlike (existing solutions)_________ will (do what?) ____________unlike __________(competitors).
We, Ace Corp, are making a personal GPS tracker for parents who need to know where their children are that unlike cell phones and other devices will, via a web browser, provide real-time location, speed, and path information.

The key thing here is to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. Be as specific as possible with names and numbers. Avoid fluff and hyperbole. For example, take a look at this example (based on the above example) and tell me if it catches your attention:

We, Ace Corp, make tracking devices for people who need to locate others that unlike current technologies will, via the internet, provide location data.

This second one is just too vague.

Another pitch that is frequently not included is the Investor Pitch. Here’s an example:

We, (Company)___________, require ($$)_________ for (what)_________ in return for ___% of the Company. Our plan is to be acquired by (name some):___________  in ___(year) for $____million to give you an IRR of ___%.
We, Ace Corp, require $500K mainly for production tooling & hiring sales staff in return for 20% common shares. Our plan is to be acquired by Polycom for $15M in 2029. This will give you a 6X return in 6 years (ie IRR=35%).

The above two statements, presented on a few slides with some illustrations (eg. pictures) would make a nice under one minute deck and also be a good introduction and summary for a longer talk.

So, let’s get down to preparing a pitch deck (on powerpoint, canva or whatever. Again, we’ll start with the a high overview which you can embellish with more details as time may permit.

First, a few general presentation style tips:

  1. USE LARGE FONTS (Avoid long sentences – the audience will read rather than listen to you.)
  2. USE ILLUSTRATIONS (Use photos of the product or service and wherever possible. People will remember pictures over words. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  3. AVOID DEEP TECHNICAL EXPLANATIONS (This would put non-tech people to sleep. However, have some tech details available on auxiliary slides to use when warranted or requested.)
  4. MAKE THE PITCH COMPELLING Grab the audience. make them have a FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.)
  5. LOOK AT THE AUDIENCE (Don’t read your notes. don’t look at the presentation screen behind you.)
  6. SPEAK CLEARLY (Use mic properly if available. Don’t speak too fast. Be heard and be listened to.)
  7. REHEARSE (and rehearse. Don’t go overtime. Don’t rush it. Make sure clicker, screen and laptop are working well.)
  8. LOOK GOOD (don’t be controversial. Don’t attract attention to your dirty hair or torn jeans. Smile.)

And now, the deck:

For each “SLIDE” below, answer the first question. Then, you can add additional slides, or points (a, b, c, etc – not necessarily in order) depending on how much time you have and what you want to emphasize. You can’t include everything unless you have a couple of hours and even then, you’ll probably leave something out.

Your name, your company’s name and what the company is selling.
a) Background info – why you started this company.
b) Mission statement
c) Goals

You could use the elevator pitch (see above) here. Avoid hype and generalizations. Paint a picture in the mind of the listener.
a) Intellectual Property
b) Embellish with examples
c) User cases
d) If a product, how sourced?
e) Current and future R&D milestones

Who will buy your product or service (be specific) and how much will they buy (5 year sales projection)?
a) Describe your specific market niche as narrowly as possible.
Avoid use of the TAM-SAM-SOM slide. It’s just fluff and turns off many angels.
b) How you will capture market share.
c) Time to market and lead time advantage.
d) Pricing strategy
e) Distribution strategy (direct, agents, etc)
f) Market trends
g) Name existing or new customer or partner prospects

Who are you displacing?
a) Why you are so much better.
b) Barriers to entry for others.
c) Your moat.
d) Who might eat your lunch (threats)?

Why you?
a) Who else? Credentials?
b) Board & Advisors
c) Who’s missing?

How much capital is needed and what is the liquidity plan for investors?
a) Cash flow – break-even, profitability.
b) Investment Terms & conditions.
c) Subsequent rounds (if any).
d) Use of proceeds.
e) Exit plan details (who might buy the company, when and for how much).
f) Investor ROI and IRR potential.
g) Previous investment rounds.
h) Non-dilutive funding – Government support & grants.