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Among the many challenges of starting a new company, securing funds from investors ranks at or near the top for most entrepreneurs. To prepare for these meetings, owners of startup organizations should prepare a pitch deck. A pitch deck must include the core slides all investors expect and is similar in scope to a business plan. It should contain no more than 15 to 20 slides as investors are busy people and will likely lose patience with anything longer.

Considerations in Preparing a Pitch Deck

While it’s important to get creative when preparing a presentation for investors and differentiate from the competition, entrepreneurs should take care not to come across as overly negative towards similar companies and industries. This can backfire and make the presenter appear insecure or malicious.

Instead, it’s best to focus on what the startup already does well and its plans to incorporate even better products and services in the future. Some other things to keep in mind while creating slides for a great sales pitch deck include:

  • It’s not essential to cover everything in the initial pitch deck. The entrepreneur should plan to follow-up in person to clarify investor questions.
  • Have someone proofread the slides for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. Slides may present short bits of information, but they should still look professional.
  • Avoid using too many industry acronyms or jargon. It’s better to spell things out to avoid confusing the potential investor.
  • Hiring a professional graphic designer can help add a neat, authoritative look to the pitch deck.
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What to Include in a Pitch Deck

The person seeking funding from investors should plan to include at least 11 basic slides, including an elevator pitch as the first one. An elevator pitch is a summary of the startup’s products or services that the entrepreneur should be able to say in less than a minute. It should also include the company’s vision statement. Additional points to cover in the first pitch deck to a potential investor include:

  • The names and role of each team member
  • The problem the new business owner hopes to solve, along with proof that such a problem exists
  • Specific examples of how the new company offers unique solutions
  • Examples of how the product or service operates
  • A measurable set of customers, known as traction, that can prove the potential of the new company
  • The demographics of the market served as well as size of the market
  • Analysis of the competition, including what works and doesn’t work with their approach
  • A business model that clearly outlines how the new company expects to make money
  • The planned budget of the presenting company and the amount it requires from investors
  • Contact details for key people in the organization

When to Follow-Up After Presenting a Pitch Deck

Although investors need time to consider the presentation, entrepreneurs need to establish a follow-up schedule and stick to it. A quick thank-you after 24 hours is appropriate, as are phone calls one and two weeks later. A series of automated emails that include parts of the pitch deck used during the initial presentation can help the prospective investor recall important facts. Of course, the business owner should give the investor more space if he or she requests it while still procuring a firm date for a financing decision.

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