Written by Kushi Kaur, CEO and founder of a Toronto-based legal-tech software startup, and a recent recipient of the Enterprising Female Founder award in 2020 for International Women’s Day. In this article Kushi is going to share the process she uses to create a startup pitch deck.
My pitch deck philosophy is that your story needs to count, so your metrics can have meaning. The questions “why you?” and “why now?” should be addressed early on under a “domain expertise” slide. Good pitches should be succinct and tie in your unique market insights, to create a cohesive and compelling narrative for the concept and intrigue investors in wanting to connect with you.
Meaning business to non-business people
Successful presentation of your concept requires both perspective and introspection. Anticipating the audience’s interpretation of your content requires preparation beforehand (please practice and critique yourself) and develop an instinctive ability to read people. In layman’s terms, the best way to get started is by putting yourself in the audience’s shoes and communicating your story adjusted to that. It helps to figure out who the audience is going to be beforehand.
Presenting to non-industry investors
I recommend putting more time and effort into explaining the problem in a narrative that engages their interest, with greater emphasis on the go-to-market strategy and numbers (as universal human language is numbers; this helps to convey the business potential better). You should also not spend >50s on your product slide.
When acquiring new business partners
Focus heavily on the impact of your start-up. Clearly outline what you bring to the table; it is important to quantify your impact, particularly for social impact start-ups. Place emphasis on your solution and the longevity of your product/service. Share case studies that match their demographics.
Onboarding mentors/board of advisors
The most holistic way to onboard mentors/advisors is through finding common ground during your conversations and striking a chord that piques their interest. Share your journey and communicate clearly the potential of your business model. Figure out your ‘ask’ beforehand but onboard them at the correct time for your start-up– neither too early or too late, otherwise enough value may not be exchanged. Highlight in your deck how and where they fit as the missing puzzle piece in achieving your vision.
Successful pitches have one thing in common– no founder relies solely on their pitch decks. On-screen slides should contain only key details and supporting statements. The presentation playing behind you should be 1,000,000% summarized and align with your pitch. Although a simple statement, a lot of founders struggle with this and tend to over-include content and under-deliver when speaking. Think of each space word on your deck as ‘expensive real estate’ and really refine on what you include. The spoken content and delivery is the real king, and should be hard-hitting and easily transitional.
Practicing would help in understanding how this will go about for you (I have everything memorized, so I don’t look at the screen unless I fumble– and I do at times).
The Right Emphasis During The Pitch
Contrary to what’s online, I spend the majority of my time explaining my business problem (with my why included), what I’ve currently done to grow the channels (metrics), and lastly the implementation.
Creating a startup pitch deck in 2020
As a start-up founder, quarantine poses a novel challenge as we’re so used to relying on our in-person gut reaction in making split-second decisions. One piece of advice: focus on being concise, clear and humble in your e-pitch. Investment trends will be changing in the coming times, so coming off too strong may communicate a lack of social awareness and empathy. Explore, learn and figure out the answer to your “why” in the context of the reality of Covid-19. Look through your unique experiences as a founder and start trusting your gut again and listen to it, even if it’s going to be through a zoom meeting.
After spending endless hours speaking in front of 500+ audiences, customers, businesses, investors, billionaires, and your street-smart gym janitor, I’m here to tell you to give your PowerPoint another go.
If you have other tips on how to create a startup pitch deck, feel free to comment below or share them with me via my LinkedIn: Kushi Kaur