A competitive market reinforces the notion that startups need more than a good business idea to become successful — entrepreneurs must convince others to invest in their business. Creating a case for your company convincingly is as much science as it is art.
A pitch deck can quite literally make or break a startup. It’s used to cast your company’s vision, compel investors, and win over prospective customers. This sounds like a daunting task, but great pitches are really just great stories. The deck is an important storytelling device, and your ability to craft a compelling narrative is critical to hooking your audience’s attention.
Ultimately, all presentations are a form of persuasion and since in each presentation the presenters are trying to persuade the audience to either do something or do something differently, then stories are the some of the best ways to connect with the audience.
When telling a story in a presentation it is important to bear in mind the following three components: ethos, logos and pathos. Let’s start with ethos. The story you are telling will have to be credible and in line with your achievements and experience. Next is logos. To make sure your story comes across as logical add data or statistics to it. Lastly we have pathos. Your story should appeal to the audience’s emotions.
“Your story is absolutely critically important. Ben Horowitz at Andreessen Horowitz says, ‘The company story is the company strategy.’ It’s also your secret weapon. A lot of companies are working in similar spaces and have only slight differences. So how does somebody make a decision? Have that narrative that sets you apart and differentiates you,” Patterson says. “Tell the story that will open the door. Of those 850 companies, the VC will take a call or a meeting with about 10% of them, and ultimately they will only end up investing in 1%.”
The perfect pitch deck’s narrative should answer three key questions:
Why should someone care about this?
What is your unique solution and why will it work?
Are you and this idea a good investment?
The way you address a problem or an opportunity is by engaging with customers/users. Well, the way you talk about the problem isn’t different, it all starts by talking about the customers/users and the issues they’re currently facing.
Keep in mind that venture capitalists and angel investors are pitched to every day. You’ll need something unique and compelling to capture their imagination and attention.
Design is critical to a startup pitch. From graphics and other media to a polished startup pitch template, you can capture your audience’s attention. Paying attention to how you present your startup visually is critical.
Another important point to remember is to be brief. Kawasaki recommends observing the 10/20/30 rule.
The optimal number of slides is 10.
The pitch should be delivered under 20 minutes
The ideal font size is 30 points.
Your company needs to have a powerful and unique solution to the problem you’re trying to solve. “Investors aren’t often interested in ‘me too’ ideas,” Swallow said. “Capture their desire with something new, differentiate yourself by your unique value — what can your company offer that no one else can?”
“People are going to make an instant decision about your pitch,” Kawasaki said. “They’re not going to want to see your entire background, they’re not going to want to get to know you, they don’t want to be your friend. You are either worth their time or not. It’s that simple.”
A startup’s pitch is always a constant work in progress — which is both good and bad. When meeting with a VC who’s concerned about the team, you add a team page. The next one is interested in the technology, so you add a bit about the optimal programming language. Subsequently someone wants to know about the marketing plan, so you add a marketing slide.
Irrespective of which side of the table you’re on, disruptive innovators want the same thing: a big idea that solves a big problem that changes the world. A great pitch shows what’s possible and how it could actually become reality.
There are numerous examples of pitches out there that include many of these elements. The difference between what seems like a good idea and a truly great one often boils down to how well it’s framed and communicated.