Tips on Building a Pitch Deck – Startup Marketing 101

Ok, so we’re all familiar with Guy Kawasaki right? If not, no worries, here’s a very brief introduction:

Guy Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley author, speaker, and advisor to Motorola. He was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984

More importantly in 2004 he published, what I consider, one of the first and most important books in startup culture – The Art of Start. If you have not read this gem, you really should!

Recently I was reminded of this book while helping advise a local startup on their pitch deck. To this day I still use his pitch deck template and I want to share it with you.

Slide Content Comments
Title Include your organization’s name, your name and title, and contact information. The audience can read the slide—cut to the chase and summarize what you do (e.g., we sell software, we protect the environment). Open simply with,“This is my company and this is what we do.” You want to get investors thinking about the potential for your company and the size of the market.
Problem Describe the pain that you’re alleviating. The goal is to get everyone nodding and buying in. Avoid looking for a solution that is searching for a problem. Minimize or eliminate citations of consulting studies about the future size of the market.
Solution Explain how you alleviate this pain and the meaning that you make. Ensure that the audience clearly understands what you sell and your value proposition. This is not the place for an in-depth technical explanation. Provide just the gist of how you fix the pain.
Business Model Explain how you make money—who pays you, your channels of distribution and your gross margins. In general, a unique, untested business model is a scary proposition. If you truly have a revolutionary business model, explain it in terms of familiar ones. This is your opportunity to drop the names of organizations that are already using your product or service.
Underlying Magic Describe the technology, secret sauce or magic behind your product or service. Aim for less text and more diagrams, schematics and flowcharts on this slide. White papers and objective proofs of concepts are helpful here.
Marketing and Sales Explain how you will reach your customer and your marketing leverage points. Convince the audience that you have an effective go-to-market strategy that will not break the bank.
Competition Provide a com
plete view of the competitive landscape. Too much is better than too little.
Never dismiss your competition. Everyone—customers, investors and employees—wants to hear why you’re good, not why the competition is bad.
Management Team Describe the key players on your management team, board of directors and board of advisors, as well as your major investors. Do not be afraid to show up with less than a perfect team. All startups have holes in their team—what’s truly important is whether you understand that there are holes and you are willing to fix them.
Financial Projections and Key Metrics Provide a three- to five-year forecast containing not only dollars but also key metrics, such as number of customers and conversion rate. Do a bottom-up forecast. Include long sales cycles and seasonality. Making people understand the underlying assumptions of your forecast is as important as the numbers you’ve fabricated.
Current Status, Accomplishments to Date, Timeline and Use of Funds Explain the current status of your product or service, what the near future looks like and how you’ll use the money you’re trying to raise. Share the details of your positive momentum and traction. Then use this slide to close with a bias toward action.

Things to consider when designing you pitch deck:

  • Your pitch deck should reflect your business model, not regurgitate it word for word 
  • Your pitch deck should very clearly illustrate your technology without having to try a demo
  • Remember your pitch deck is not private, it will be passed on to others – keep the file size small, provide a pdf version, make all your points clear so you do not need to be there to explain it
  • You can demo your technology during a pitch, but this should not be the core of your presentation – see above
  • Don’t jump right into keynote or powerpoint, make sure you use the template above to block out your key points or use a white board
  • Remember the “10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint” – 10 slides, 20 minutes and no font smaller than 30 point
  • Most importantly – practice, practice, practice in front of your peers. There is nothing worse than a presenter who is nervous and uncomfortable

If you need help with your pitch deck gives us call 🙂

Good luck!

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