Create a Fundraising Pitch 1
No company exists without funding, so when you get the chance to state your case for raising investment you only get one chance; the pressure is on!
It’s easy to start off with a draft presentation and to bend it completely out of shape through a stream of iterative changes. A company I’m currently working with ended up presenting version 48 of the slide deck, which isn’t unusual, so it’s important to have an overall framework to keep on track.
I’ll write another article running through the presentation slide by slide, but first here’s a high-level guide. I’m afraid there’s not a “magic bullet” that will guarantee investment, but hopefully this is good general advice.
Keep it simple: insiders spend countless hours considering every last detail about the business, however for an investor pitch, less is more. You want your slides to be simple, convey high-level ideas, and leave room for questions. Simple and straight-forward presentations always do better than detailed presentations full of bullets.
Tell a story: Talk about the facts but make sure you grab the interest of the audience and get them excited. One of the best ways to do that is to tell stories about how potential customers will use the product, how they currently experience problems that need to be solved, and how the product will make the lives of your customers better.
Keep it short: Investors are busy, see many pitches every week and consequently have a low tolerance for PowerPoint. Make sure you have plenty of time for questions, demos, and discussion about your business idea. If you have a one-hour meeting, aim for your presentation to take 20-30 minutes.
Don’t overstate the market opportunity: Instead of top-down forecasts where you “only need to get one percent of a huge market” to be successful, focus on bottom-up forecasts where you detail how you’re going to acquire customers. If you already have data on how an early version of your product or that of a competitor is selling, use those numbers to help drive the rest of your forecast.
Ask for the money: Be clear on what's required and how it will be used, make sure the proposition is realistic and that there's going to be enough cash to fund development to the next value inflection point. It's extremely difficult to go back again for more funding without added value.
Keep the deck current: Fundraising takes time. There’s nothing worse than presenting an out-of-date deck to potential investors. That said, make sure you don’t change the story! The numbers and proposition have to be consistent so that all potential investors understand the full story. If material changes can’t be avoided, it’s vitally important that you correct the information already distributed.
Send the deck as a PDF: You’ll almost always be asked to either send your pitch deck ahead of time to investors or to leave a copy behind. If this happens, send a PDF not a PowerPoint. This means that anyone who looks at the deck will see it as you intended with the chosen fonts and styles, and without the presentation notes.
The deck needs to be able to stand alone without your presentation. It will always be better when presented, but it should ideally be able to tell some of the story without additional narrative. Investors might want to flip through the deck again after you’re done with your presentation and it needs to have enough content that the deck can stand alone and communicate some of the core ideas.