Whether you are meeting an accelerator like ourselves, a VC, or later stage investors, you’ll hear the term ‘pitch deck’ being thrown around a lot. A pitch deck is a Keynote, PowerPoint, or some other visual presentation which gives an overview of your business plan.
But that leaves some questions hanging: namely, what should you include in you pitch deck, how many do you need, and when should you send them?
Now, there is some controversy on whether you should send a pitch deck in advance, because the information might be leaked, and because you might lose control of the narrative once the target audience has already read through the deck.
The answer, simply, is that you should have different pitch decks for different stages of the vetting process: one for before you meet your target, one for the interview, and a few strategies for follow up.
The teasing game
The accelerator or investor you’re about to meet will likely ask for a Keynote to review, and merely sending them a link to your website might not be enough of a hook. Yet, a long email will most likely lose their attention, and a full slide revealing all the dirty details will make it harder to surprise your audience and dull the impact of your story.
So that’s why you should have a short, teaser version to send out first before the meeting, giving your assessor a quick introduction to who you are, and what makes you special. Importantly, it should leave them wanting to know more, so don’t flash all your cards just yet.
The teaser should include descriptions of:
- Who you are
- What your startup does, and what problem you’re solving
- Why the opportunity you’re targeting has potential
- What about your product will make you a leader in this market
- A little on what you’ve done so far
Remember, the aim of the teaser deck isn’t to convince your target to invest in you (yet), but to get your foot in the door for that first interview.
So the introduction went well, and they’ve invited you in for a face-to-face. Now’s when the guns come out: the full deck.
In essence, the meeting deck should be a more detailed expansion on what was included in its teaser predecessor, plus a window for you to share some more confidential, ‘secret sauce’ material. That means:
- Diving deeper into your product or solution, and your vision on where the company will be going
- Elaborating on the problem you are solving, the market size, and composition
- Details on your progress to date, such as customers, revenue, existing funding
- Financial plans, including how much you’re raising, how long that cash will last, and what you plan to do with it (the milestones you plan on hitting)
It could also be a good idea to anticipate the kinds of questions your audience might have, and have an extra set of very detailed slides to respond in case. If a follow up question touches on something that these additional slides could answer, you could come across looking exceptionally well prepared and having foreseen some of these potential issues already.
Also keep in mind you have to capture your audience’s attention, so the deck should be compact enough to be processed within 45 minutes to an hour, and still have time for questions from both sides.
After the handshakes
The first thing you should do after the meeting, of course, is send a follow up thank you email (possibly with the meeting deck attached) and suggest some next steps, such as a second meeting.
If the extra slides weren’t used in the initial meeting, they could be good for a second interview where you could dig deeper into the nitty gritty which you didn’t have time for. But don’t worry if you haven’t got those backup slides, or have already used them — you could always ask to meet one of the accelerator’s teams or an investor’s portfolio firms, so you can convince a trusted source of your validity.
Lastly, don’t forget that pitch decks — no matter how eloquently phrased or beautifully composed — are there to help guide your conversation. Pitching is in the end a person sport, conveying a sense of confidence and establishing a connection with your audience go a long way in getting you noticed.