Building relations with your investor in the startup industry is a tricky business. It’s similar to playing poker - you don’t want any painful surprises at a showdown. Even though startup owners do their utmost to impress potential funding providers, time and again they suffer from a bad hand, which prevents them from obtaining financial support so crucial for their business projects.
In this article, we share our experts’ thoughts on the best strategies with which to encourage your potential funding providers. By using them, you will have better chances of investors opening up your pitch deck e-mail and attending that crucial first meeting. Let’s be honest though - these are only a few additional cards to your stack. The core of the game depends on your high cards which are: business traction, a market-validated business idea, and a strong team. Even the most spectacularly designed pitch deck won’t save you, if your business idea is weak and the target market poorly-chosen.
Pitch deck - a startup’s window of opportunity
That being said, a pitch deck is a preview tool for prospective investors through which they are encouraged by startup representatives to provide funding for fast-growing companies. It plays an essential role in the development of early-stage startups. Seeing that approximately 30% of startup ventures fail due to a lack of money to conduct business, this threat looms large over every startup owner.
In this article, we remind you of the best pitching practices, but more importantly, we introduce you to some more advanced insights that will elevate your pitch deck endeavors. Take a moment to read which tools and strategies startup professionals recommend!
Basic pitch deck checklist - best practices for startup owners
While there are many ways of creating an investor-winning pitch-deck, there are some must-haves without which your pitch deck simply won’t do. Make sure you have them all covered before you send your pitch deck over to potential seed firms.
Being succinct can’t be overstated, especially when writing insightful pitch deck content that is supposed to lure your funding provider. In this context, being brief means designing content which is strictly to-the-point.
To achieve this end, the number of slides in your pitch deck should be around 10. Instead of trying to fit too much information from your 10-100 page long business plan, reduce pitch deck contents to an absolute minimum. A rule of thumb is to ask yourself the following question: how can I express the same information in only 3 sentences, and then in 1 sentence? This journalistic practice is extremely useful when reducing pitch content to essentials only. In this case, less quantity and more quality content is key. An interesting study by DocSend (a popular pitch deck tool provider) shows that reaching out to a number of investors will not make your pitch deck deal more likely to happen. Instead, it indicates that ensuring top quality of what you put out there in the first place, in fact, increases your chances of actually making the search-for-investor time worth your while.
Investors contacted vs. money raised, source: DocSend
Avoid financial predictions at the pre-launch stage
It is a frequent misconception among startup representatives that investment funds require detailed financials to be included in your pitch deck. As a matter of fact, financial projections encompassing a period of 5 years ahead are not necessary.
In truth, trying to predict a new company’s financial situation at the pre-launch phase is like fortune telling from a crystal ball - nobody knows what will happen and venture funding providers know it full well. A simple lean canvas (or business canvas), detailing the most important aspects of your business proposal will suffice in this case, as it allows for a brief general overview that your seed firm is looking for.
Approach VC investors through influential people from your network
According to Borys Musielak, a serial entrepreneur from the SMOK Ventures investment company, using people from your network who know venture capital providers and believe in your solution is the best way to initiate contact with investors. The most important advantage of this approach to the search for funding is that you acquire validation prior to the meeting. As it is further explained, good introduction strategies should provide you with an endorsement by one of the following people from your circle:
- Future VC,
- Fellow business owner,
- Previous employer.
In this way, you’re using networking combined with recommendations that are among the most powerful tools in business relation-building.
While an attention-grabbing pitch deck is important, you won’t win your business angels’ heart with a good pitch deck alone. You need that extra factor which oftentimes is included in these extra assets up your sleeve. Here are the aces that will strengthen your upper hand!
Pitch deck showdown - 6 advanced ways to beat the game
We live in a highly visual and fast-paced world. People are used to browsing instead of reading and scanning instead of analyzing – especially if they are an investor who receives hundreds of investment proposals per year. In this context, well-designed pitch deck visuals help them navigate the received offers quickly and easily. Therefore, we opt for enhancing your deck’s visual content. Read on to find out how.
Extra pitch deck elements such as eye-catching design or a prototype of your product indicate that you know more than what you showed in the pitch deck alone and have invested extra time and money into it. These are factors that do not go unnoticed by your seed firm. According to the DocSend study, only one of every 400 companies considered by investors receives the investment funding that they were searching for. Even though a pitch deck alone won’t guarantee you your funding, these brutal statistics may indicate that it's worth investing in a well-polished pitch deck package to be this one successful firm in this fierce competition.
Impressive visual pitch deck design
Outstanding pitch deck visuals say to your investor “they put an extra effort into it”. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a well visually designed pitch deck stands out and can strengthen the good impression you made with your innovative solution to a market problem. Apart from that, spectacular pitch deck visuals support the validation of your team’s skills and expertise.
In terms of specific visual features, your pitch deck design should be as minimalistic as the rest of the content you prepared for your investor. There’s no need to overload the presentation with an excessive amount of information packed on every slide or redundant fancy decor. As a rule of thumb, it’s good to follow the below logic on your slides, which essentially shows how your team successfully resolves a market-visible problem.
Only the essential information will suffice but it is also important to present it in compliance with your company’s visual identification guidelines. To this end, you may refer to your Visual Identity Book, brand logo, the overarching color palette and the existing website design. These elements should be reflected in the design of your pitch deck, as they prove your professionalism, set the mood for the brand - also on a subconscious level - and let the potential investors familiarize themselves with its feel.
Product prototypes - a check for your product
A prototype is like a check move in poker. It lets you verify your cards’ strength by identifying early on what may be wrong with your digital product. The study by Marketingsherpa shows that there are a number of reasons why users delete the app - from its unusability, through bugs to a lack of tech abilities. A prototype gives you a chance to detect these deficiencies before the product launch.
Reasons for deleting an application, source: Marketingsherpa
Usually, a prototype is included in the demo version of a pitch deck, and its reception is better when it’s presented by a startup founder rather than sent via email. Therefore it’s one of the most attractive parts of in-person pitching. Besides, product prototypes have the potential of earning lots of investor attention due to their interactive and easy-to-comprehend nature. It is worth mentioning in your email to VC professionals that you already have a prototype and can present it in a face-to face meeting with them. In this way, a prototype can help lure your potential funders to join an in-person meeting.
Professional landing page
A well-crafted landing page should contain all the marketing essentials concerning your product that will convince a visitor to buy it. This means that an underlying message should be simple and straightforward (like “Financial research for everyone”). It is also essential that its recipient, a potential early adopter, sees and understands the product’s advantages right away. Only then does the proper Call to Action (CTA) stand the chance of working its magic. Apart from that, a well-polished landing page should also include statistical proof of your company’s competencies, representative of the market trust that it has already received. It is important that you have all these elements rightly done, as an outstanding landing page can earn you a meeting with your potential investors.
Go for explainer videos
In order to present the main idea behind your product in an attractive way to your prospective funders, a go-to solution is the so-called explainer video. It does a good job of laying down the general application of your business solution in simple terms. The main advantage of an explainer video is its universal nature. According to Forbes contributor John Rampton, these videos are so practical because they are short, marketer-friendly and, among their other handy qualities, can be applied in a variety of situations. Another great feature of explainers is that they mirror your brand’s image, as Rampton further claims.
Proper pitch deck e-mail counts
What a shame if no one read your designer-made pitch deck just because your email was poorly written. While cold emailing is a subject for a separate article, there are some basics that you should have covered when pitching your business idea to venture capitalists. According to SMOKE Ventures, a startup funding provider, you should aim for maximally 3 paragraphs, one of which includes a surprising fact about the company founder.
Aside from the short and concise form of your email, you should always remember that no investor wants to download a pitch deck on their desktop. Such a seemingly trivial, yet, in fact, a cardinal mistake can disqualify you for good, especially among other tech-savvy startups. Instead, you should opt for clickable solutions ready for online reviewing. A specific tool for your online pitch deck presentation is discussed in the next paragraph.
Pitch deck tool that makes both sides happy
Now that you already have a well-designed pitch deck, enriched with a professional landing page and an eye-catching product prototype, it is essential to play your cards right! DocSend is one of the tools recommended for startup-investor communication. It enables startup representatives to familiarize themselves with the slides on which the investor stopped. However, its most interesting functionality lies elsewhere. Its motto, which says “Never send another attachment again”, encapsulates the main idea behind DocSend. To be perfectly clear, all the activities revolving around opening and downloading attachments are a waste of investor’s time. The time of which you typically get as little as approximately 3 minutes (when it comes to email or other type of remote communication). In this context, tools such as DockSend make this time count.
If you are interested in other startup business topics, check out our Insights for startups to learn even more!
Complete your investor package
Sure, your major pre-seed stage concerns as a freshly-minted entrepreneur are business traction, market validation, and an unbeatable team. But once you have those, it’s worth polishing your pitch deck package to increase the chances of meeting with investors and raising the funds. Therefore, we recommend furnishing your pitch deck with valuable additions such as product prototype, landing page, and an explanatory animated video. At the same time, you should stick to the desired 10-slide deck format and pay attention to the content of your email as well as the tools you use for transferring attachments. Use these strategies and take your business to the next level!
Looking for professionals that will enhance your pitch deck essentials? Explore the Merixstudio Startup DNA package!