(As appeared in Forbes.)
Entrepreneurs spend so much of their time targeting investors and securing meetings that they forget how important the actual pitch deck is. Now that you’ve secured the meeting and determined your key talking points, don’t delegate the creation of your deck (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.) to someone else.
The good news is there are a plethora of online resources that share the best Investor presentations. Look for decks curated from the likes of 500 Startups and Y Combinator. Konsus, a Palo Alto company that focuses on multi-channel content, compiled what they regard as 35 presentations ‘investors are talking about.’
Here is a checklist of critical considerations when creating your investor presentation.
1. The big idea that lead to the business idea
Don’t lose the voice of the founder in your pitch. Often when speaking to an entrepreneur, they share absolute gold about what caused their light bulb to go off.
This human hook that points to how innovation happens should not be lost when it comes time for the investor deck. This is your ‘story’ and it is often what people remember long after your statistics and stirring presentation.
For example, I spoke to AirXpanders about their inflatable breast reconstruction device AeroForm. While I don’t remember all of the details, I remember hearing about Dr. Dan Jacobs on a bike ride in Silicon Valley. Jacobs helped recovering breast cancer patients reconstruct their breasts with sometimes painful saline devices. But, on a bike ride, when he had to fix a flat tire with a compressor, Jacobs had a eureka moment that lead to an amazing innovation in breast tissue restoration.
When there is a story behind your eureka moment, it is inherently more memorable than a bunch of statistics.
2. Pre-emptive statement: We are the first or only business that…
Investors don’t want to bank on ‘me too’ businesses. This process may require that you slice and dice what is unique about your offering, but it is well worth it. Rare offerings, when supported by a business case, present an idea of exclusivity or a limited time opportunity for an investor.
For instance, if you are the only SaaS tool that ties together platform X and platform Y of a critical business system, you might be onto something. If you’re the only product or service that can launch and solve the problem in a day when the competitors do it in a month, you’re on to something. What are you on to that only you can claim?
3. The business case quantified
Investors not only want to understand what you do and why it’s amazing, but they also want to know how many buyers exist and why they will spend money on your solution.
But, a business case properly structured does much more than identify the number of buyers and what they are likely to spend.
The best business cases detail what buyers spend currently on alternatives (maybe more than what your offering costs) or the cost (in time, pain, inconvenience, inefficiency, etc.) of not having a solution. It is sometimes the emotional cost that is the most compelling, particularly if the potential investors are among your prospect pool.
4. The persona of the buyer in human terms
Don’t make the mistake of glossing over buyers with demographic data such as ‘a male buyer, age 22, who lives in a metropolitan area.’ Demographics make more easy math in a model, but they don’t contain the emotional who for ‘why’ someone would want to buy.
By layering on psychographics about an audience and information about their actual problems, content preferences, and buying behaviors, you develop a far more compelling business case. B2B Marketing Zone has a plethora of resources on the common mistakes and the more valuable, quantifiable data required to build a useful buyer persona.
5. The leaders & their incomparable credentials
If you only have one page on the founders, don’t use 80% of your slide real estate on a sexy picture and a hyperlink to a LinkedIn profile. Investors expect you to do the work for them.
What are the top three pieces of unique experience or credentials the founders have that would lead an investor to believe you have the vision, the technical proficiency or the operational horsepower to launch and scale the business?
6. Is there a social good component?
If your offering is a straight for-profit play, that’s fine. Highlight how big that potential profit is and determine if you can do some good with it. Make sure that good aligns with your values or the space in which you play so you’re making valuable contacts while you’re donating proceeds.
However, if you can build an aspect of social good into your business model, you may open yourself up to a different type of investor. If you target your offering to Millennials, this group is highly interested in doing good while going about their consumerism. Social good can help both your investment prospects, your karma and your probability of sales.
7. Does the presentation technically work
Gone are the days of the overhead projector. It’s not enough to know that your slides look good. You need to test your presentation in a variety of settings.
For instance, if the presentation is graphics intensive or contains video, and some of your audience is on a conference call platform, they may experience a delay. Test your presentation on the platform the audience will be using. Dial in like a participant and see what they see—before they see it (or worse, before they don’t see it.)
Have your presentation in backup on a hosted environment, on a thumb drive, on another team member’s computer, and emailed to someone in the room that knows the native tech setup.
The last thing you need, as you prepare to deliver your pitch with charisma and authority, is for the technology not to work. That situation is embarrassing for you and memorable (in a bad way) for your audience.
Instead, be memorable for the beautiful representation of your big idea and the compelling difference you’ll make in the world of your tremendous buyer pool.
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