A well thought-out investor presentation can be the difference between a business cashing in — or cashing in its chips. Building an investor presentation can feel like an insurmountable challenge, particularly for first-time or novice entrepreneurs. If this is something you’ve struggled with or even have been avoiding out of apprehension, it’s time to tackle this task with confidence.
Think of your deck as the story of your company, and structure it accordingly. Whether you realize it or not, the vast majority of stories are all told in a similarly structured formula. This isn’t an accident. Our brains are built to comprehend information in a pretty specific order, and if facts, figures and plots are delivered in the wrong order or are omitted, the clarity of the story’s premise will be tarnished.
In this regard, building an effective investor proposal is like a movie script. Let’s break it down into small, digestible bites.
Act One: The Setup
This is where you create the mood and set the premise, the main characters and plot in motion. Think: “Here’s what you’re going to hear and why you should care.”
- Set the mood. In one slide, define the business, product, service and/or idea. Being clear and simple is key here. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be creative, but don’t lose the main narrative of what makes your concept important to the world: If you do, you will risk losing the audience right off the bat.
- Introduce the main characters. Assembling a strong team is paramount. Take a few minutes to highlight the key players on the team and why they’re involved, doing so in a single slide or with one per person. Explaining their relevant past experience, unique insights and motivations are all important when convincing a potential investor that their money is in good hands.
- Set the plot in motion. Don’t focus on what the product is, focus on why the product exists. Paint a clear portrait of the world without your company and why we’re all worse off without it in just a slide or two.
Act Two: The Plot Thickens
This is the part of your pitch deck that would be on the movie poster – the facts and figures that are going to get investors excited to “buy tickets.”
- Show your current market position. Now that you’ve used a pathos-driven story to set the scene and speak to an investor’s sense of adventure, it’s time to deliver the hard numbers that will speak to their bottom line: revenue to date, projected revenue, units sold and expenses. Dedicate a slide to each one of these four statistics.
- Define the market as a whole. Now that you’ve shown what you’ve accomplished, it’s time to showcase the potential for growth in a slide or two. What are the exact figures that define the industry’s earning potential? Do your research and look at the market as an umbrella.
Define the current industry landscape and competition
We’re talking old-school, marketing 101 SWOT analysis here. This doesn’t seem like an innovative revelation, but neither is money, and if you want other people to lend you some, you have to explain — using clear-cut fiscals — how their investment will yield a return. Address in one slide for each:
- Strengths: How are you going to disrupt the market?
- Weaknesses: We’ve all got them. Be honest and aware of what they are so you can show how you plan to protect your business, not only from existing competitors but also from fluctuating markets, consumer behaviors, etc.
- Opportunities: Where will you attain market share? How?
- Threats: Competition is cutthroat. Acknowledge that and explain how you’re prepared to survive.
Act Three: A Hollywood Ending
At this point the audience knows the characters, where they’ve been and where they’re looking to go. Now it’s just time to clearly communicate what you’re asking for in a total of four slides. They should explain exactly:
- What you need for success;
- What you plan to do with investor resources;
- The steps you’re going to take that will translate to success;
- How, when and to what extent the investor can expect an ROI.
Roll Credits And Walk The Red Carpet
Congratulations, you’ve worked hard and all that’s left to do is give an Oscar-worthy acceptance speech. No one wants to get played off by the orchestra, so be sure to make this short and sweet. Add a thank you slide and a slide for a quick reference summary with all pertinent numbers/fiscal information.
And throughout your presentation, be sure to speak to investors in a language that will engage them:
- Use graphics to make your point as often as possible. Did your company make $1 million in revenue last year? Great! That’s the only information the investor cares about, so say it in one sentence and lay it on a cool graphic.
- Think of your deck as a living document. After each meeting, you’ll be able to discern which slides work from which ones don’t.
- Bring someone whose only job in the meeting is to observe and take notes. Bringing an employee to monitor the situation and take notes can go a long way in refining your presentation.
Investor meetings are all about cashing in. With this outline, you can build a pitch deck so sound that you’ll be able to walk up to the negotiating table with the confidence of having an ace (or two) up your sleeve.