Here are the top five things to watch out for when creating your presentation decks to ensure a winning pitch at the end of your hackfest journey!
1. The wrong-sized pitch: Some pitches are too long-winded, and investors’ eyes glaze over before the venture communicates all of its most important parts. Other pitches are so minimalist that they leave investors with far too many questions and not enough of a sense of what the idea really is. You need to find a middle ground here. I suggest you pitch it to someone who doesn’t know your idea and listen to their feedback. Are they confused? Falling asleep? You’ll likely have to do a number of practice pitches and revisions before finding that sweet spot.
2. Boring visuals: One of the best ways to keep your audience engaged is with a sharp, well-designed pitch deck. It’s crucial your pitch deck has the right visuals that convey your information quickly — infographics, flowcharts, pictures, icons and backgrounds that are properly formatted and placed throughout the pitch. Most importantly, they need to be relevant to your points, not just great to look at. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words and the right image or graphic can often speak louder than anything you say aloud.
3. All facts but not enough insight: You’re a new venture. You are not yet branded. And, chances are, your idea isn’t fully realized. You need to connect the dots for the reader on why this venture will be something greater than what currently exists. This means you have to tell a story with the facts you present. Take the industry forecasts, your potential consumers, the size of a market, the competition profiles — all of it will lead to a specific insight for the investor to have an “aha” moment.
4. A team that lacks value: Sometimes a project is one person who spent 30 years in the restaurant industry and is launching a social app without any support. Other times a team consists of 15 members who want to put a title on a resume, even while working for another company. There’s a balance to strike between too big and not enough support. Regardless of size, it’s important entrepreneurs make sure they have people on the team who add concrete value. For example: If you have a strategic advisor who is well known, make sure you can tell your investors how much network, time, feedback and involvement you can get out of him. Or, if you have a chief financial officer who’s only available 30 minutes a week to do bookkeeping, it’s best not to call him a CFO — and maybe contract out the bookkeeping work. Your team is one of the most important aspects of your pitch. Getting it right could mean the difference in getting funded or not.
5. A crazy valuation: This is the No. 1 complaint I hear from investors. They see crazy valuations for projects that don’t have anything to show for them. In a world where only a few unicorns make it, it’s important to know how to improve your valuation. Having a stake of equity in the project as the owner is important, having sales to back up your valuation is even more important, and having a financial model that demonstrates the reasoning behind your valuation is ideal. All of these allow investors and venture founders to discuss terms with clear variables rather than gut feelings.
In the end, it takes a mix of experience, business savviness and art to come up with the right pitch deck. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s always worthwhile to call in an advisor or someone who can help take another look.