I briefly mentioned the importance of a pitch deck in our article about pre-seed VCs in the UK. It explained how there are tons of debates on the topic “is a pitch deck actually useful or not?”.
And I get it! Pitch decks do take time to write. And yes, you should spend the majority of your working hours on developing your product.
I’ve even had first hand experience with quite a famous pre-seed VC. They were claiming all over Linkedin that pitch decks were a complete waste of time !
The thing is :
So you guessed it, I am definitely PRO pitch deck 😀
Visit our pre-seed and seed venture capital database for the full list of UK venture capital firms.
And just so you know… We got the “Yes” from the VC, I was talking about. So I have absolutely no reason for being particularly whiny here.
Before we dig in, let’s clarify the scope of this article. This article is focused on startups looking for pre-seed funding. Not seed funding, but pre-seed funding.
I’m not saying some parts don’t overlap, but raising pre-seed investment has its particularities.
Pre-seed means :
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It’s important because you will need to convince strangers to write you a check.
And pre-seed basically means you don’t have much to show that will reassure anybody.
All you really have is an idea, a compelling story and enthusiastic founders.
So yes, make an effort!
As a bonus, you’ll discover that it’s actually a great exercise to force you to understand your market. And really get the potential that your business actually has.
You should be even more excited about your project once you’ve finished!
Now, I am not saying you should spend 50% of your work hours on your deck.
You should definitely spend more time on the content of your pitch deck, rather than the actual design of the document.
And you should NOT reinvent the wheel here. Keep your innovation skills for your business.
Hopefully we can help here. The following will give you structure and jumpstart your pre-seed fundraising campaign.
This is the typical format investors tend to expect. It’s what most VCs recommend. So I’d strongly recommend sticking with it :
5-7 word description of what you do. It’s not a marketing tagline. It’s a very brief description of what your company does.
This is probably the most important slide. It can give a real AHA moment if you explain a problem that investors have. And can really mess up your presentation if you do it wrong.
Sometimes, you are not solving a problem, but surfing on a business opportunity and that’s fine.
This is a mirror to the problem slide. Your solution needs to be concise. It’s not the time to be technical or dig into features.
What if instead of doing things this way, we do it another way?
This should be one or a series of product slides. And can be quite close to your marketing landing page. Some founders add video, but if you do, make sure there are no technical barriers to viewing the video.
Prove that people are looking for what you have to offer.
Just explain how you make money. Average order size. Average margin. Be very clear with real numbers.
A bit of history, where are you now, and what you plan your product to be in the future (next few months)?
This needs to be a chart that shows progress. With big breakthroughs changed the direction of your business.
How will the money you will raise accelerate your growth? Be precise.
Do not say : we will be spending money on online marketing. Everybody does that!
How big is your market? YOUR market, not the market of everybody in the world starts giving you £10/month.
This is where you will dig into your TAM (Total Addressable Market)
What do you get that the competitors don’t? How you plan on beating them?
Skills to get to where you want to go?
Current numbers if you have any and projections.
How much are you raising?
Sequoia Capital is one of the most well known VCs in the US. They have put together a pitch deck template that you can use to format your pre-seed funding presentation.
You'll see that these slides are very close to the structure that we've detailed above.
So, now that you have the structure of your pitch deck, it’s time to design it. Again, you don’t have to spend months on this. But you do need to put in the effort to reassure investors that you care.
You have a few options:
You can go the bespoke designer route. Simply use Fiverr or recruit a freelancer. It’s an okay option, but it can be hit and miss. You’ll have control over the deck you are building, but this is probably the most time consuming option with unguaranteed results. It’s also quite annoying to have to ask somebody all the time to make the slightest change.
Slidebean is my favorite. They offer lots of different packages including pitch deck consulting, design and even financial modeling. The founder Caya also offers tons of free advice on his Youtube channel.
2 other agencies :
Beautiful.ai is templated software specialized for presentations. You’ll have your deck ready in no time.
I use Canva.com all the time for logos, photos, videos and mockups. It’s a really powerful and easy to use design tool. And Canva also has presentation templates. No, they are not specialized in pitch decks, but it’s great value for money as a design tool that you will use again and again for your startup.
This is basically how I do it.
Pick the presentation software you already know and simply add a £10 theme from Graphic river.
My presentation software of choice is Google slides. It’s free and connected to my Google drive account so it’s quite easy to share changes with my team.
It may require some extra work at the beginning to “understand” how everything works in the theme, but I’m talking minutes here. And once you get it, you will be able to make as many changes as you like for free.
Each time you present your pitch deck to a pre-seed investor you will get feedback that will impact how you move forward. Being able to make changes or shorter and longer versions of your deck is really important.
And it’s not just about pitch decks. Presentations will follow you throughout your business journey, so it’s not a bad idea to get to grips with one of these tools.