Pitch Deck Pointers
A new series from Innovation Bay that breaks down the pitch deck, slide by slide, with commentary from some of Australia’s top VCs.
About the Pitch Deck Pointers Series
At Innovation Bay, we’re committed to supporting startup founders on their journey to IPO and beyond. We host events for the Australian technology ecosystem that provide a platform for entrepreneurs to learn, raise capital, network and collaborate. (Not a member yet? Join here.) In addition to the events we curate, we also create helpful resources for founders; that’s where this Pitch Deck Pointers series comes in.
We released a 10 part guide to the pitch deck, dissecting each individual slide. Each part hones in on a slide, with commentary from one of Australia’s best VCs. These prominent investors talk us through what they look for on the specific slide, point out common mistakes to avoid, and share their top pitch deck tip. After you finish Part 1, be sure to check out the rest of the deck:
- Part 2. The Problem Slide featuring Emily Close of AirTree Ventures
- Part 3. The Solution Slide featuring Hannah Field of Tempus Partners
- Part 4. The Market Slide featuring Alon Greenspan of Jelix Ventures
- Part 5. The Unfair Advantage Slide featuring Benjamin Chong of Right Click Capital
- Part 6. The Competition Slide featuring Hugh Bickerstaff of Investible
- Part 7. The Business Plan Slide featuring Kylie Frazer of Eleanor Venture
- Part 8. The Traction Slide featuring Dan Gavel of Black Sheep Capital
- Part 9. The Team Slide featuring Tip Piumsomboon of Blackbird Ventures
- Part 10. The Ask Slide featuring Georgina Turner of Tidal Ventures
To kick off our Pitch Deck Pointers series, Innovation Bay’s very own GM, Sian Priest, shares her tips for crafting a pitch deck, some general pitching do’s and don’ts, and covers the first slide in the deck: The Intro Slide.
I’m Sian Priest, General Manager at IB. I have the privilege of working with driven and ambitious founders every day, and one of the best parts of my job is working with founders to refine their investor pitch decks. Innovation Bay has hosted hundreds of pitch events and we have collectively viewed thousands of startup pitch decks. We wanted to share what we’ve learned over the years and hope that this series will help founders navigate the fundraising process. Now let’s get into it…
What is a pitch deck?
The pitch deck is an important tool for founders throughout their fundraising journey. Think of this pitch deck as your foot in the door — it’s a quick overview, not a comprehensive rundown of your business. This is the kind of deck you would present at an Innovation Bay event or email to investors to get a meeting.
The goal of a pitch deck
- Gets you a meeting
- Gets investors interested at an initial meeting and wanting to know more
Before you start
Craft your story. Before you open PowerPoint, you need to start with the narrative of your pitch. Think of your pitch deck as a storytelling tool that allows you to create an emotional connection with the audience. Your aim is to take the investor on a journey and make them feel connected to your mission. My advice is to write down what you want to say first, then apply your story to the pitch deck structure (Problem, Solution, Market etc..). Then practice it out loud, get comfortable with the story before you start creating any slides.
Remember your audience. Think of investors as smart people who know nothing about your business or industry. They won’t be an expert in your domain but keep in mind that it is their job to review pitch decks every day. If you have a logical progression, communicate clearly, and avoid insider terminology, they should catch on pretty quickly. Also, keep in mind that investors are very busy and will likely skim-read your pitch deck in under 30 seconds, so think about how are you going to grab their attention.
General Pitch Deck Do’s and Don’ts
- One idea per slide. Each slide should drive home a specific point.
- Use fast facts and data. Investors like facts, numbers and statistics. You want to educate and excite investors so, they can easily repeat and recall what you said when they’re talking about your business to others.
- Make the most of every word. Instead of naming your slides “The Problem” or “The Solution”, utilise the header to tell a progressive story that leads to a conclusion.
- Reduce friction. When sending your deck via email, send it as a PDF. Don’t put unnecessary boundaries between investors and your pitch deck with confusing formats and compatibility issues. PDFs are the simplest, easiest option. If you’re committed to tracking investor engagement, opt for a simple, low-friction link share.
- Keep evolving. Your pitch deck is a living document that you will refine after each investor meeting. Listen carefully to investors feedback and questions, identify the gaps, hone in on what are people missing, and update your deck accordingly.
- Include too much information on each slide. This deck is a brief outline of your business, not a complete company profile. No slide should have more than 25 words.
- Pad your stats. False statements and figures are a big no-no. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be upfront. Figure it out afterwards instead of making up an untrue answer on the spot.
- Get too technical. You’ll alienate your audience if you keep using terms, abbreviations, and acronyms they’re unfamiliar with. Keep your language simple.
- Rely on cliches. Avoid statements like “my company is the Uber of XYZ”. Opt for originality over fluffy jargon.
- Ask investors to sign an NDA. This is a big no-no. An investors job is to meet lots of founders and learn about their company, they are not in the business of stealing your idea.
The Intro Slide
The purpose of this slide and why it’s important to an investor
The purpose of the intro slide is to explain who you are and what you’re doing here. By the end of the intro slide, investors want to know:
- What is your company?
- Who are you?
- What’s the mission?
- How do I contact you?
Common mistakes made on this slide
This slide seems simple enough, but one of the mistakes we see regularly is founders forgetting to introduce themselves at the start of the pitch. You don’t want investors spending the whole pitch wondering who you are instead of focusing on the important information you’re trying to impart on them.
Another big mistake is not including contact information in the deck. The audience needs an easy way to get in contact with you after viewing the pitch deck.
Lastly, keep in mind that the intro slide is the very first impression that an investor will have of your business so make sure it counts. Use a high resolution, quality hero image, make sure your logo is legible, and avoid making the slide too busy.
Disclaimer: At the end of the day, this series is just a guide and should not be taken as gospel. Just as every business is unique, every slide deck should be unique. While the general order and number of slides we’ll use in the series is a good jumping-off point, perhaps a few more or fewer slides or a completely different sequence would better fit your company’s story.