Pitching startup ideas should be a sport in itself. Studies say that investors go through pitch decks not longer than four minutes only. And for every thousand pitches they gather, only 10% of that figure receives their funding. Ironically, experts suggest that there is no lack of investors. That being the case, why, then, are the chances of getting financed by them so slim?
Like kids ready for bedtime, investors, too, like hearing a good story. If a founder is unable to articulate their vision as extensively as possible, their points may fall on deaf ears.
If you’re a startup founder looking to establish an impressive narrative to score an investor or two, consider the following takeaways.
Understand the business worth you carry and familiarise your investors and the markets they cater to.
There are three fundamental areas founders will need to master to capture an investor’s approval confidently. Firstly, define precisely the value of what you have to offer. How pressing is your customer’s pain points and how novel and profitable is your solution? Gather qualitative data and note direct quotes from your respondents. Present early traction, too, like social media clamor and sign-ups to free trials.
Secondly, establish your market size. Arguably the most critical aspect in your pitch, study every detail about how broad and expansive your target audience is. The whole point of pitching startup ideas isn’t only to prove that a problem can be solved, but also to establish that a market is willing to pay for a robust solution. Bring up conversations about competitors, and actively remind your investors that you understand where the startup will fall in the face of competition. The more nuanced your judgements are, the more credible you become.
Thirdly, know who you’re pitching to. Find out about the projects and startups they support at present if any. Do your research. Check their social media accounts and find out which companies, brands, and businesses they follow. Although many investors are open-minded and want a taste of every possible enterprise, you’re more likely to find success in pitching to an investor who already understands the potential and promise of whatever industry you belong to.
Keep it short and straightforward.
Similar to college lectures, the layout of your presentation will be definitive. In other words, how you choose to present your ideas will speak volumes to the people you want to partner with. If you prepare a 30-slide, text-heavy deck, expect your audience to lose interest quickly. Basic human psychology suggests that we’re likely to say no to the idea of something if we see how criminally extensive materials can be.
Everyone’s time is valuable, more so those that can afford to finance startups. As funders, they’re also more wired to say no, and inherently, they’ll want to keep spending to a minimum. As such, format your deck in such a way that emphasises only what’s crucial. Avoid long paragraphs and make use of bullet points. Chances are when you walk someone through your vision, you won’t be reading lengthy chunks of sentences anyway.
Marketing specialist Guy Kawasaki shares that the 10/20/30 guideline is an effective strategy anyone can pull off when they’re presenting ideas. With a maximum of 10 slides, he shares that 20 minutes of talk time should suffice, and font size of 30 should do the trick. In order, write your problem statement, your solution, the business model you intend to follow, how your business should work, how you intend to market the product. The slides after that can then depend on whatever startup story detail is most substantial in your context—competitor analysis, organisation structure, timeline, projections, and so forth.
Lastly, the final slide should bravely note how much money you’re going to need for the entire undertaking, on top of your contact details.
For inspiration, check out other companies’ pitch decks. A quick trip to a search engine will immediately show you those of Airbnb’s and Google’s. Study how their founders talk about their startup ideas and determine what points they amplify and how.
Flaunt your product or service.
There’s an old saying that goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Simply put, let your investors experience whatever service or product your startup will involve. Of course, this will depend on what your offering is and how it functions. Either way, integrate this part into your pitch deck. Avoid interruptions by having to set-up a process in the middle of your demo. Load web browsers in advance and test whatever you need to, to make most of your 20-minute target.
If the product or service is still theoretical at the time of pitching, present a mockup, at least. Do everything in your power to make your pitch as visceral and imaginable, as possible.
Explain to investors why you’re the one.
Much like a Tinder match, you’re going to want to forge connection and meaning as early as you can in the interaction. Founders often think that what investors want to hear the most is how massive financial projections can be in a span of a little time. And while there’s truth to that, what they need to be sure of the most at the time of pitching isn’t just how much money your startup can make, but how much of a business champion you’re cut out to be.
In the end, they’ll want to be sure they’re funding someone with tough skin and a vision. Numbers don’t mean a thing if the person leading a pack is incapable.
To prove why you’re “the one,” start your pitch by reinforcing how profoundly invested you are in what you believe in. Was the startup idea birthed from the death of a family, or the problem of a friend? Were you placed in a compromising position that led you to find a solution? Make it emotional, and use practical and firsthand examples in your life. Let go of the rhetorical question opener in the beginning; that’s outdated and corny. Asking questions like, “When was the last time you experienced X” or “Have you ever wondered why X is so and so,” are overused. There’s also a high chance that the investor you’re pitching to won’t be able to relate to your examples.
Numbers do the talking, but feelings dictate what these figures say.
Do you have startups in mind you’d like to talk about? Give us a call, and we’ll help you out!