A pitch deck is a set of slides that will summarise your investment proposition. Before you incorporate and develop an extensive online presence, this will function as your spinout’s business card.
The basics of Pitching
You should have two versions of the deck: one to be used as a presentation during face-to-face pitches and one that is emailed or handed to investors. The “hook” pitch (the one presented in generic events or sent as cold introductions) will need to be very short and clear, favouring visuals (graphs, diagrams, photos) over text; when invited for a longer investment meeting, you can include a bit more information on the underlying research and figures.
What to include
Successful pitch decks tend to be short, clear and compelling, as an investor will spend on average less than 4 minutes going through an individual deck. You will need to attract their attention to stand out from the crowd. Therefore, your intro deck should succinctly cover off the following topics in not more than a dozen slides:
- Who you are. Mention your spinout’s name, the name of your solution and your contact details as a minimum.
- Problem. Describe the challenge your solution aims to address, explaining the pain points in terms people can relate to and that investors would understand. Make sure you highlight the need customers have and any other factors that may influence their need (policy, market trends etc).
- Solution. Shine a spotlight on how you can address this pain point and how your solution works. The solution will need to be scalable (you can grow your user base without growing the cost of delivery at the same rate) and you will have to give details of how this can be achieved. This slide should also explain why now is the right time to launch this solution, as being too early or too late to market is among the main causes of failure for start-ups.
- Market Size. Consider the number of potential customers, where they are, how much the unfulfilled need you’re tackling currently costs them, and how much they spend for comparable products. Outline market growth in the past and future potential growth, so that investors can quantify the potential return on their investment. Highlight how much of this market your solution could realistically serve.
- Product. This slide should give details of your product. If you have co-developed the solution with industry or you already have customers, consider including a testimonial.
- Traction. Explain how your business has evolved and grown, including key metrics such as revenue, staff, investment etc.
- Team. This is a key slide that needs to highlight the experience and achievements of your team. Be mindful of the fact that investors will be keen to see not only scientific excellence up there, but also start-up experience, product development expertise and commercial skills.
- Competition. List key competitors, outlining how you compare to them and where you land with your value proposition. You want to clearly differentiate yourself from the rest so that the person that is reviewing the slide gets what makes your company so unique.
- Financials. Provide a summary of where your company is and projections for a reasonable timeline in the future (normally 3 years, but varies with the industry and the investors you are presenting to). Additionally, you will need to have ready your financials in tabular format, as investors may want to delve into the details after reviewing your pitch deck.
- Amount being raised. On this slide, you can either include your goal for this round (and any commitments already made) or a target range that would allow you to take the company forward (ensuring that it is compatible with the published investment limits of the fund you are pitching to).
Face-to-face with investors
When accepted for a face-to-face pitch, prepare extensively on the business case (be ready to cite things like competitors, market shares and pricing ranges), the evidence for the need you are trying to fill (How big is the pain and who would pay for it? How urgent is the need and are there any other factors influencing urgency?) and the effects of your technology on that market gap (How many of the people affected by the need would be willing to pay for your solution? How much would they be willing to pay? What is your route to customers? Why would they choose your solution over those of your competitors?). Consider bringing to the pitch session key teammates that can answer e.g. market sizing questions, or product pricing model queries.