In the lead-up to the AtomLeap High-Tech Accelerator Demo Day, we will be holding pitch training workshops with the nine startups we have accelerated so far this year. That is because, in our experience, we have observed that, no matter how much experience entrepreneurs have in pitching and how much they have fine-tuned their pitch decks, there is always room for improvement.
As such, we are devoting this week’s post to summarizing our main tips and tricks about how to prepare the perfect pitch deck. We hope you find the information below useful and that you also check out our previous post about how to improve your pitch. And, as always, if you need help accelerating your high-tech startup and are based in Berlin — or willing to relocate here — feel free to get in touch with us using the contact form on our home page. We are currently looking for candidates to join our accelerator program starting in January.
How many pitch decks?
First off, it is a good idea to have several pitch decks, depending on the purpose and audience for which you use them. For instance, the pitch deck you use to send by email to a potential pilot customer or tech partner should differ from the pitch deck you use to present your solution to potential investors.
You should adapt the level of technical or financial detail into which you go in your pitch deck and the balance between graphic elements and text depending on who your audience or readership is. Good rules of thumb are to explain what you do in such a way, that it is understandable even for those who are not familiar with your sector and to use as many graphs and images (and as little text) as possible. The advice below concerns primarily investor pitch decks, though you will find that much of it also applies to other types of pitch decks.
What kind of information should go into an investor pitch deck?
All pitch decks, regardless of what you use them for, should cover the following topics:
- What problem you are helping to solve
- Your solution
- The market
- Your product description and details about its development
- The traction it has received thus far
- An overview of your team
- Competition (can be included in the annex)
- Business model, financial results, and financial standing (ibid.)
Your pitch deck should ultimately tell a convincing story about how your startup is going to make money by solving a widespread problem in an innovative way. It should preempt questions like: is there a market for your product? (you show that there is and that you know this market well in the designated slide); is your team the right one to solve this problem? (you emphasize those qualifications that prove that you are indeed the right team); is it too early or too risky to invest in this startup? (you prove that that is not the case by showcasing your traction or your potential, when you have yet to have any traction).
The information you include in the different slides should flow naturally and contribute to your narrative. A good way to see if your pitch deck flows is to actually rehearse presenting it to people you know. If you find yourself having to explain too many secondary aspects, then perhaps you should streamline your story first and then revisit the content of your pitch deck.
Just like other stakeholders, you will naturally have to win investors over with how brilliant your solution is BEFORE you start talking about your financials. So do not make your pitch deck mostly about money even though/when you are pitching to investors. They understand, of course, that, in order for a product or service to be profitable, it has to to answer a real-world, pressing problem and to be intelligently designed and intuitive. So start there and leave the money talk for the second part of your pitch.
Important tips and tricks to have in mind
- You do not (and should not) include EVERYTHING there is to know about your startup in the pitch deck. On the contrary, you may want to pick one specific angle or hook and stick with it throughout the entire pitch deck. For instance, if your (rather arcane) technology has been successfully applied to a real-world and relatable use case, you can lead with that specific problem and application and only later explain that in actuality your technology can be applied elsewhere as well. Furthermore, you do not have to include detailed financial reports or information in your pitch deck, as that is information that investors will ask for anyways if they decided that they are interested in investing in your startup. You just have to pique their interest first.
- Use the annex for any additional information. This applies to any presentation really, but the annex is your friend! Make use of it! Whether you are pitching as part of a competition or directly to one or several investors, most pitches and presentations are normally followed by questions. If you anticipate the questions you will get (those will normally refer to the information that you chose to leave out from your pitch deck), you could prepare additional slides answering those questions. Doing so will make you look prepared, help you answer the questions, and basically extend your presentation. The latter advantage becomes particularly useful if you are supposed to give a short pitch.
- Do not include too much content on any one slide. This applies particularly to text, but also tables and images. Doing so will overwhelm the reader and they will be less likely to pay attention to you if you are presenting live because they will be too busy trying to make sense of your pitch deck.
- Keep it simple and clear. Even if you are working with rocket science, you should be able to explain what you do in words that lay persons understand. Try to refrain from talking too much (or only) about your technology and stay clear of arcane acronyms that only your peers would understand in your pitch deck.
- If you are pitching using your pitch deck, make sure to familiarize yourself with its content so well, that you do not have to look at your pitch deck while you are pitching. If you have to read what is on your slides, you will simply lose people’s interest.
Much more can be said about pitch decks and pitching. If you would like to read about this topic further, we recommend you check out the books “Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of Your Dreams” by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis and “The Art of the Pitch” by Peter Coughter.