You’ve hit upon an idea, you’ve coded it to life, and your trailblazing team is ready to take on the world. But there’s a catch — you have no cash in the bank to take your idea to fruition. You must convince someone with bucket-loads of cash — usually a Venture Capitalist — and get them to invest in your idea. And for that, you’ll need a pitch deck.
Startup pitch decks are among the most common tools to raise funding. In fact, there are few startups which have raised money without a pitch deck. Your pitch deck is a brief summary of why a Venture Capitalist should put his hard-earned money into your venture. Here are the elements it should contain:
- Talk about the problem you’re solving: Shareholder value is created when visionaries solve problems that confront humanity. Uber solved the problem of not having cabs available when you wanted them, and Airbnb helped people find rooms when hotels were all booked out. Start your pitch deck off with the problem you plan to solve.
- Talk about your solution: Then go on to describe how to intend to solve the problem. If yours is a tech startup, don’t put all the technical details in the pitch deck itself. Briefly describe the architecture and the technologies you’ll use.
- Talk about why your solution is different from existing solutions: Unless you’ve chanced upon a problem that nobody has thought of yet, it’s likely there are other solutions or approaches to the problems you’re solving. Mention these; it shows that you’ve done your research, and understand what you’ll be up against.
- Talk about why your team is best equipped to solve the problem: The investors will be putting their money not just into the idea or its execution, but also your team. Talk about why your team is uniquely equipped to solve the problem. Talk about previous experience, and talk about where you’ve worked at in the past. Talk about synergies as well — one of the biggest reasons of startup failure is the inability of startup founders to get along.
- Talk about where you see yourself in a few years: Have plans chalked out. Theranos had started off with a vision where all blood tests could be done with a single prick. Startups are uncertain, as Theranos found out, but try to have an idea of where you see your company ending up. No one has a crystal ball, but investors like having a team which has an idea of what they’d like for the future to look like. Whether it’s a business plan, a startup deck, or nursing essays, be prepared to tell what the future holds.
- Talk about money: This is the rub — the primary reason an investor is backing you with their cash is because they want to earn a handsome return. Talk about how big the market for the problem you’re addressing is. Talk about revenues, expenses and profits. Make projections. Use some fancy predictive techniques, such as the Discounted Cash Flow analysis. Your investors need to know exactly what sort of return they can expect for their time and effort.