I'm no graphic designer. In fact, when I design pitch deck slides, whether for my own startup ideas or for a client, I don't always handle the graphical pieces. While have an aesthetically pleasing deck is important its the structure of the story, the order of the slides, and which pieces of information go on the slides that really matter the most.
There are some slides that are pretty tough to mess up. Such as the Title slide. I mean, its hard to mess up the name of your startup and the founder's name, right? Well, sort of. The truth is that in all my years reviewing pitch decks as an investor or as a pitch competition judge I've seen some pretty terrible opening slides.
Unfortunately for most founders its the slides that matter the most that they tend to screw up more often than not.
The Problem with the Problem Slide
While I don't always follow the same order with the pitch deck slides I design, I do tend to use the Problem slide as the 2nd slide. My goal is to not leave the slide unless I am positive that everyone listening completely understands the problem that the founder is trying to address.
Which is where most founders screw up. They either fail to make it absolutely clear what the real problem is or they are addressing a problem that might be an issue for them and a handful of other people but it isn't a wide enough spread problem that you can build a significant sized business around.
Make sure you design the Problem slide in a way that leaves your potential investors in complete agreement that there is a problem that needs solving. They should be thinking to themselves, "I get it. This is a real pain point for lots of people."
The Solution Slide
Founders should be able to succinctly explain how their product or service will be able to address the problem. Where most founders go wrong with their Solution pitch deck slides is that they geek out to much with lingo, acronyms, and other jargon that investors may not understand.
I have a rule that I follow with pitch decks. Especially the Solution slide. The rule is "Don't make the investor work". Make sense? Don't make the investor have to work to understand what your solution does. Even if its the most high tech, scientific, Mensa-level topic your listener/reader shouldn't have to work to understand what you are talking about. If you can't explain your solution using everyday words then you need to go back to the proverbial drawing board.
The Projections Slide
So, there I was watching a founder present his startup idea. He was only 5 minutes into his presentation and he killing it. I mean investors, including myself, had their checkbooks in hand. Then he got to the projections slide...
Now, I'm a finance guy. So numbers are kind of my thing. Within seconds of looking at his projections I knew there was a problem.
First off, he was only asking for $150,000 in seed funding. But he was projecting that amount of capital would propel him into $40,000,000 in revenue the first year. Um...no way dude. Unrealistic projection will get lose you an investor every time.
Then I noticed the second red flag. The numbers didn't even add up. Mathematically. Use a calculator folks. Or better yet, build your projections in something like...I don't know...and Excel spreadsheet using formulas! That way its harder to screw up your math.
There are a few things you can do to avoid these types of mistakes.
First, consider sharing your pitch deck with other entrepreneurs who have experience pitching investors. Ask them to "sanity check" the claims you are making or if your math is accurate.
Second, some people choose to hire an experienced professional (I know a guy) to either review their pitch deck slides or help them create them all together.
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