How To Structure Your Pitch
Let’s look at how to structure the pitch from start to finish. The whole deck should ideally be about 20-30 slides, and more importantly, take only 15 minutes to present. The bullet points below correspond to specific slides in the free template I provided above.
Introduce yourself and the big idea (slides 1-8)
- Your background and your team
- What is your claim to fame? It’s better to focus on just one/two really positive things, so stop there (everything else you list is dilutive).
- The big idea
- What massive problem are you trying to solve? For who? Why now? What motivates you?
- How are you unique? Why will your product or service resonate with people?
- What are the key customer or financial metrics that indicate your business is really taking off?
Explain your secret sauce (slides 9-18)
- Business Model – How does your business work?
- Customers – Who are they? What do they have in common? Where do you find them? How much does it cost to acquire them? Why do customers keep coming back?
- The Growth Plan – Why are you raising money? How will you grow the business? What you your products? Why are you better than the competition?
Offer the deal (slides 19-22)
- Financial Information (the output from your financial model)
- Unit Economics – What is the profitability or contribution margin per customer or per unit?
- Budget – What is your burn rate and what are you spending money on?
- Cash Flow Forecast – What are your targets for the next few years?
- Describe what investors get from doing business with you
- What will you use the proceeds for? How will you invest the money?
Close (slide 23)
- Leave your audience feeling inspired – refer back to your mission/vision or use a powerful customer quote. You want to leave investors with enough information to feel excited and intrigued, but still wanting more.
How To Connect With Your Audience
Here are some important themes to keep in mind when building and delivering your pitch.
- Simple – make it easy to follow with minimal jargon. Imagine you’re explaining the idea to a small child.
- Clear – ensure it follows a logical progression (generally starting with the big picture and then zooming in)
- Intriguing – give the audience enough information to get them interested but leaves them wanting more
- Novel – the last thing you want is the reader to say to themselves “I already know about this”, as that will cause them to disengage. Even if it’s not new, try to put a new spin on it.
- Concrete – use facts and figures that build your argument in solid way (irrefutable evidence)
- Emotional – use quotes from customers or employees that illustrate how your business is directly impacting people’s lives
- Visual – most people are better at processing information visually so include as many infographics, charts, images and visual content as you can. Consider using a graphic designer, as I have done with this template deck.
How To Generate The Financial Information
It’s important to have a financial model supporting the information in your pitch. If don’t have a solid operating model in place, be sure to check out resources on fundamentals of financial modeling or how to build a startup financial model.
The focus of your outputs in the presentation should be on things like unit economics, contribution margin, and customer metrics as opposed to income statement items like revenue or EBITDA. If you’re an early stage or startup business, you should focus on your budget and burn rate. It’s more important to show you understand your cost structure than post a big revenue forecast that everybody knows is made up.
Ultimately, a financial model is only as good as the assumptions that are used to build it, so be sure to clearly state all the drivers and assumptions in your model and how they change over time.