Founders Programme Session 4 - Pitch Deck 101

December 8, 2021

Read our key tips on drafting a stand-out pitch deck with Megha Prakash, an investor at Forward.

Session 4 of our latest Founders Programme focussed on building a killer pitch deck, hosted by Megha Prakash, from our investor team at Forward.

In this session, Megha covered the dos and don’ts of drafting your pitch deck: how to effectively structure your deck. To tell an engaging story. To answer key questions that investors have up front. And crucially, how to avoid some common mistakes we often see in the process.

Check out our key takeaways below👇

Key Takeaways.

🥡 1.  Use a clear structure to guide investors through your story.  

Your pitch deck is the first opportunity you have to tell your story to investors. As we’ve discussed in our brand and marketing session, a good story needs a strong narrative that engages its reader. A pitch deck is no different. Your deck should take the investors on a journey, smoothly transitioning from the last point to the next. Although there are many effective structures you could use in your pitch deck, at Forward, we recommend using the following:

  1. Problem - what pain point do your customers have?
  2. Solution - how are you fixing it?
  3. Market size - how many people have this pain point?
  4. Competition - how are you better than others in your market or how is this problem currently solved if you have no direct competitors?
  5. Traction - how have you proved product-market fit?
  6. Team - what are you the right person/ team to succeed?

Avoid these common misconceptions:

  • Early-stage founders often have a hate-hate relationship with traction. Some believe that you need to have impressive ARR, MRR or high revenues to secure the funding you need. But this isn’t the type of traction investors are always looking for. At an early stage, you need to show that when your product was put in front of a target customer, they adopted it quickly and easily. So what metrics can you use in your deck to show this?
  • It’s quite common for founders to include a lot of data in their pitch decks. Our advice is to think about what belongs in your deck and what can live in the data room instead. Having robust data to back up your pitch is great, but often a presentation format isn’t the most effective way for investors to digest this information.
  • Sometimes we see founders introduce their product far too late in the pitch deck. They often cover lots of in-depth information before the investors know what the proposed solution is. When crafting your pitch deck story, think about where you can give a high-level introduction to your solution early on, even if you go into more detail later in the deck. This gives the investors the context they need to assess the rest of the information you present.

🥡 2.  Amplify your unfair advantage on each slide in your deck.

Your pitch deck is an opportunity to tell the story of your product. So it’s important you use every opportunity to reinforce your unfair advantage whenever you can.

We recommend you always frame your unfair advantage in commercial terms. Using technical terms can be helpful but investors are looking for strong business acumen and a solid understanding of your market and growth trajectory. A good way to do this is when you have finished the first draft of your pitch deck, go through each slide and ask yourself whether you can add numbers or stats to emphasise the commercial opportunity of your product.

When thinking about your unfair advantage, you need to consider how to make your product as defensible as possible. Investors often like to see founders talk about one or two key problems and how they intend to solve that problem, better than anyone else. Having a long list of problems you want to tackle is ambitious, but can also show that you and your team could be too thinly spread. Focussing on one or two key problems, for a specific customer set, ensures your product vision is credible and there is a high level of focus on what you want to achieve.

🥡 3. Invest in your brand and the design of your deck.  

After this important work on the narrative of your pitch deck, the next key point to consider is its design. This is your opportunity for investors to visually engage with your business and a simple, yet well-designed deck shows professionalism and attention to detail. Most importantly, your brand is what your customers will see, it’s important that you show investors that your brand’s visual identity stands out.

It doesn’t need to be a complicated. And we believe that less is definitely more. We suggest thinking about these key points:

  1. Is your deck consistent with your overall brand?
  2. Do you have key clear headings on each slide that helps signpost your story?
  3. Is there too much text throughout the pitch deck? (It’s important to remember that there is a big difference between decks investors will read independently and decks that you will present)
  4. Is the design accessible and easy to read?

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December 8, 2021