I have reviewed pitch decks from experienced entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who are just starting out, or anywhere in between. I see a lot of reoccurring mistakes made by entrepreneurs, some could even cost you an investor. Read on to see what the most common mistakes are and how to avoid them.
What do you do?
When I’m looking through a pitch deck I want to know from the start what your good or service is, and who is your intended customer. Before you start going over your great market and industry data or the taglines of problems customers face, I want to know why that information is relevant. By the time you are a third of the way through your deck, or 5+ minutes into your pitch, your audience shouldn’t still be trying to decipher what you do.
Lack of visuals
One of the main reasons I like visuals is that they take up space. If there is empty space on a slide, too many entrepreneurs will take that space and fill it with an abundance of text. Another benefit of visuals is they make a message quick and easy to interpret. Simple is better, a picture is worth a 1,000, and any other slogan you can come up with; make it easy for your audience to comprehend your message.
Too much text is the most common mistake I see. As a reader, if I see a slide full of text all I’m going to do is skim the headlines. If the text is going to be skimmed over, why have it at all? The common push back I hear from entrepreneurs is they need all this text to fully describe their solution or all the text is necessary because investors should have every detail. Make sure you understand how your deck will be consumed and the amount of information needed for the stage of funding you are in.
If you are sending your deck via email to a potential lead, think of it as a movie trailer. The goals of a movie trailer are the same as the goals you should have for your start up pitch deck. A movie trailer gives the audience a general idea of the plot, who is starring in it, and leaves a bit of a cliffhanger, causing you to turn to your spouse and say “that looks really good; we should go see it.” You don’t need to explain every possible detail; the audience can connect the dots to some extent.
How are you different?
Simply put, if you just tell me your solution is an online video platform I will assume you’re a YouTube knockoff that doesn’t stand a chance. Competing against a dominant competitor is not something I would invest in without a major differentiating factor.
Often times the business model is the weakest slide in the decks that I see. To me this is one of the most important slides. You may have a great idea, but I want to see that you have a way of making it a great business. I want to know who you are charging, how much you are charging, and what the profit is.
“Revolutionary”, “game changing”, “first of it’s kind”, “the next Facebook”, all buzzwords or phrases that hold not meaning or value. Along those lines I would add in hockey stick shaped growth or financials, and stating social media as a marketing strategy. My other pet peeve is using the term viral videos as a marketing tool because we all know every video posted on YouTube goes “viral.”
What do you need?
Give your audience a call to action, state how much capital you need, and clearly state how to get ahold of you if I want to learn more.
After reading a pitch deck I love when I feel like I stumbled onto something that has real potential. Don’t make it too long; I’m okay with being left with questions and wanting to know more at the end of a pitch deck. If you have me interested and excited about your solution, I’ll want to set a meeting to find out more!