What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a brief presentation that aims to inform an audience, usually investors, about your business plan. It should be short enough to keep an investor's attention, but long enough to give them a great basis of your company. Biotech startups are unique because they are rarely profitable just starting out. Because of this, biotech startups need to approach making their pitch decks differently. This article will detail how to create an effective biotech pitch deck that will wow investors and generate funding for your company.
Dr. Anthony Schwartz is currently the CEO of a biotech company, Morphiex Biotherapeutics. He has been involved in startups his entire career, specifically in the biotech industry. He currently teaches a class at Johns Hopkins on how to start a company and basic entrepreneurship. Dr. Schwartz provides the tips and tricks you need to create a unique and effective biotech pitch deck. Here's how:
First Slide/Overall Theme
For your first slide, you want to come off as a professional and legitimate company. First, this means you need to be a real company. You do not want to waste investors' time before you are a real company, because when you are, they might not want to listen to your pitch for a second time. You want a logo that looks clean and well made. Make sure that your theme and transitions are not too tacky or overused, AKA don’t use the most popular Powerpoint theme.
One of your first slides should have a brief executive summary. This answers questions like: What does your company do? What is the company trying to target? What is the company’s technology? You should also include a brief commercialization plan that demonstrates what you plan to do in the future. A clear and concise summary is essential for an effective biotech pitch deck; it is a great preview for investors.
Next, you should include the science behind the problem, this can be 1-2 slides. For these technical slides, make sure you can appeal to a wide audience. You never know if you have experts or beginners in the room, so try to limit the science jargon and confusing concepts. Following an explanation of the problem, you should also include why your technology will solve this problem. You can also add something (if applicable) about why current technologies are not able to solve the problem.
After explaining the problem, you should give a concise overview of your company’s technology and how it solves the problem detailed prior. This is your chance to show why your company's technology is superior to any current competitors. Make sure to be specific with your problem and solution; investors will know that your drug won't be able to cure every disease, so don't say it will.
This is a great chance to ‘wow’ your investors. The supporting data slides are usually around 2-5 slides in the presentation. You should only include the data that is most applicable and easy to interpret/explain. If you have more complex mechanisms you can include them as ‘backup’ slides at the end of the presentation (more on that later).
Here is a great space to answer questions about the specific market for your product. This is also a great time to introduce your competitors and their revenue. Following that, explain their limitations and how your company will address them. Investors want to make sure that your product is in demand and can generate a return on their investment.
Here is where you show your investors how you will get to commercialization or to your value inflection point. What does your company need to get there? This is usually clinical trials, but you should detail what type and what they look like. Do you have somewhere/someone to run them? Now is a good time to answer all of these questions. You want to show to your investors that you can be acquired in an early phase clinical trial depending on how well things go.
This should be used to show what their money will be used for. This could be anything from more clinical trials, studies, additional staff, etc. You can use graphs here to show your timeline and how the funding will be distributed over time. A clear funding ask is essential for an effective pitch deck; investors want to know exactly how their money will be spent to further your company's development.
This should include all of your patent information and scope. Investors tend to frown upon companies that only have methods of use patents. Investors want to know that your company has the asset and has considerable freedom to operate with it. They also want to know where your intellectual property came from; is the IP yours? How much trouble will this cause your investors down the line, if any?
For your team slide, you should only include key people who are integral to the success of the company. Try to refrain from featuring staff that is not relevant to the work you are doing; a nobel prize winner in literature is not necessarily helpful for a biotech company. Now is a great time to show off your team’s previous success and background in the field. This can prove to investors that your team is able to move the technology forward.
Thank You Slide
Here you can add your company logo and basic contact info. This should be simple yet professional. It is the last impression, so make it a good one! The thank you slide is also where many investors will start to ask questions (if they haven’t been doing so already).
Backup slides are great for complex questions from investors that you don’t want to include in your main deck. You don’t want to send these slides with your deck before the presentation, they might not even be needed. Think of what investors ask before they ask it; as you present more and more, you can add more slides that you think are relevant.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of a pitch deck?
To raise money is the end goal, but you are looking for investor interest and partnerships.
Should you mention risks and challenges in your deck?
Show your benefits and legitimate data. Investors and VCs should recognize the risks of the market as well.
What should you NOT be doing in your pitch deck?
Don’t go off on how passionate you are, make sure you get to your company. Don’t talk about yourself too much. Be willing to give up some control. Don’t get too emotionally involved in your technology.
How valuable are graphic designers for your pitch deck? If so, how do you find a biology friendly artist?
There is value to looking professional and legit, and hiring a graphic design can help with that. A cheaper alternative is crowdsourcing your logo; you get your idea out to many different graphic designers and then you choose your favorite. They tend to do well with biology/science material.
What about adding video?
It does look cool, but it might not be worth the cost. It doesn’t hurt, unless it is taking up time that could be better used elsewhere.
What is the cost of medical device clinical trials?
It depends on what type of device, but it is somewhat similar to an oncology or rare disease clinical study. It is cheaper than a drug clinical trial.
Should you send your pitch deck to an SBIR?
It can’t hurt. It is a great guide for you and your company.
Do smaller scale investors care about the same things as larger ones?
Usually the smaller ones are more invested because they have smaller portfolios. It is hit or miss but usually the small ones have a more intimate approach in moving the company forward.
How do I actually get in touch with these venture capitalist groups?
The first step is to have a network, but that may be hard if you are just starting out. A good place to start is at their websites. Find the partner at the company that specializes in what your company is based in and try contacting them first. Don’t be discouraged if many of them do not respond at first. Another great thing to do is to attend conferences and present. Click here for an article about the top 7 venture capital firms you may want to contact.
Will VCs take control of my company after I get the company?
This all depends on your terms. It is expected that VCs will take part of your company in exchange for the money you need to continue operating. Try to be reasonable and realize you won’t control the whole company forever.
How do you determine a good VC from a ‘vulture VC’?
The best way to determine this is to ask around and look up their reputation online. If they have a history it will be out there. It might take some time to deep dive and find what you’re looking for.
What is a good indicator that you are ready for investment?
You need to make sure that you have impressive data regarding clinical/preclinical trials and that your company can fit into the market.
If you want to learn more about pitch decks, check out this article from the ULP team here. It is always great to have multiple perspectives!