How to Perfect Your Deck

University Lab Partners / How to Perfect Your Deck

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What will captivate an investor’s interest within a few slides?  How do you convey your company’s vision in a single presentation?  What information is pertinent to an investor and what is best left for later discussions?   These are common questions startups ask while developing their pitch deck, changing and rearranging, forging a path for their entrepreneurial journey.  Discovering the sweet spot of palatable statistics, meaningful milestones, and most importantly a compelling storyline might make the difference between a paper check versus a reality check.  

The pitch deck, along with the elevator pitch, is a critical tool for attracting an investor’s interest. 

When preparing to present to angel investors, a startup must address the following points: Why does the world need this?  Who are your customers?  Why are you the right team to do this?  Why is it the right time to do this?   As with any story, the hook (or cover slide) will be your initial opportunity to capture curiosity.  Investors listen to several groups per day and it is easy to lose their attention in a snap.  Be the shift in the current and make an impact immediately. 

The connection you create between team and purpose will be your next strike. 

Remember, investors (especially at the angel level) will invest in YOU!  Create an emotional synthesis and leave the technical specifications behind, even if your project remains deeply so.  The objective is to find someone to believe in your vision and business pathway, not to fully comprehend your technology.  Many startups consider utilizing video content within their presentations, but often they are ineffective tools.  Investors can be like goldfish and move directly to their tablets when underwhelmed, according to Richard Creager (SBDC consultant and angel investor).  These people are meeting with you in person for a reason; make it count

It is best to include a single problem and accompanying solution slide. 

Concise and punctuating, present these two and move on to financials (if they exist).  While this set may appear to be the crux of a startup’s spotlight moment, it is really the why that ties it all together.  Why does any of this make a difference, and why are you right for the job?  Angels will buy you, not necessarily the numbers.  If you gain their trust and sell your vision effectively, the infrastructure and technology should take care of themselves in an investor’s mind, as explained by Creager.  A team of diverse perspectives and backgrounds can help distinguish between useful information and hieroglyphic jargon.  The facts are significant, yes- but, commercialization is your goal and brevity with gravity your conduit.  

how to perfect your pitch deck; you are seeking a partnership

You are seeking a partnership, especially at the pre-seed and seed levels. 

This can mean detaching yourself from what once seemed pertinent and pivotal, and recognizing things that come across as overly intellectual.  Perfecting your pitch deck includes listening to those outside of the laboratory for direction and hiring someone “smarter” (more business savvy) than you if your deck seems too technical (suggests Ken Bright, consulting CFO with CBio).  Attend local life sciences events and join an incubator, if possible.  Additionally, you may want to review presentations from startup success stories and openly borrow structure.  The pitch deck is simply a tool to ride in tandem with the story a startup has to tell.  Finding this niche and rhythm will grant access to eyes and ears, and could very well pave your way to market.

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