There are a number of reasons a business needs investments, these investments could be in the pre-seed, Series A or B and regardless of whatever stage the business is operating, the major reason for seeking investor’s funding is usually for expansion purposes. This expansion could be in the line of products or the need to serve more customers in their growing numbers due to exponential demands.
Story telling has been found to be the underlying magic when pitching to investors. Effective story telling has to be genuine and linked to the WHY of the business i.e. the challenge the founder(s) were trying to mitigate when they set up. It also has to be told with clarity backed up with research-based statistics on prospective customers that are in need of such solutions.
Highlighted below are the key elements of a Pitch Deck
The Pitch Structure
The pitch deck structure while different in the pieces put together as templates by different businesses, should still have the most essential ingredients and answer the potential investor’s questions.
These items in a pitch deck should be on each slide
- Cover Page
The cover page is a basic design that captures what the organization does. Usually the logo of the organization and the tag line, which serve as their value proposition to clients. The cover page should be very simple in design and text.
The introduction is the executive summary of the pitch deck. All the parts in a pitch deck should follow a simple rule “less is more”. The Pitch deck should have very limited words and should be clear.
State the problem in a very clear and concise manner. This slide should capture in bullet points the problem your business is trying to solve.
The solution slides need to state the function of your product or service as it addresses the problem you have stated. Try not to get into mentioning features as what is important here is how your product will benefit customers.
- Product Demo
If you are making a physical presentation, your product demo should be in a video of 30 seconds or less about how your product or service functions to provide the solution. If you do not have a video, then a pictorial view of images can also be used to represent this.
- Market Size
You can adopt two approaches. You either take the top-down or bottom-up approach. The top-down approach is to find out the size of the market and estimate how much of that size you think you can capture. I think the top-down helps to be more realistic as what you hope to capture can either be expressed in years or in the lifetime of the business.
- Business Model
What would your business model be? Are your products going to sell for a particular price? Would your customers have to subscribe to it weekly, monthly, or daily? This is what your business model represents. Some social media platform runs on a freemium model where users do not pay to use such platforms; however, the platform then makes money from advertisers wanting to gain visibility from this number of users for their products or services.
List your competitors whether they are direct or indirect and mention how you are better than them. For example, the indirect competitor for a carbonated drink is water and most bottling companies have succeeded in making their products a unique alternative to water by serving a refreshing taste. Mention here what makes you stand out.
When you launch a new product, it is necessary that a market plan exists; it helps to answer the question of how you would acquire customers. What steps are you going to take for customers to engage you? Would you have a direct market, use radio or television, social media, sponsored adverts, print, etc. to reach out to your targets.
Your team information should display competence. Most start-ups have a product developer and a marketing officer. This can be seen in the likes of companies like Apple where Steve Jobs is the Chief Marketing Officer with communication prowess and ability to get customers to buy while Steve Wozniack was the developer. 2-3 team members can be the founder or co-founder and launch the start-up and add other team members as the organization grows.
Investors only want to make a contribution because they look forward to returns on their investment (ROI), no investor is your friend. This is the section where you show your traction in the form of partnerships, number of downloads, and most importantly that you generate consistent cash flow and serve a good number of customers
- Fundraising Information
How much funding would you need and in what ways are you going to apply the funding you get. What this funding injection would generate within a specific timeframe. These are questions you want to answer in this slide.
Funding is usually needed for operational costs such as rent, staff salaries, office equipment, licenses or certifications, and many more depending on your business needs at that moment.
While receiving funding for your business is a great move, it can also lead to the death of start-ups as initial exposure to huge funding without experience or the ability to manage such funding could lead to instant gratification. This is why some start-ups have raised funding but are not profitable.
I suggest that a business proves through its financial statement to be profitable enough before seeking funding in order to grow a sustainable business model.
Emmanuel Otori has over 9 years of experience working with 100 start-ups and SMEs across Nigeria. He has worked on the Growth and Employment (GEM) Project of the World Bank, Consulted for businesses at the Abuja Enterprise Agency, Novustack, Splitspot, and NITDA.
He is the Chief Executive Officer at Abuja Data School.