Tailoring your pitch deck for different types of investors

Mike Viney
August 1, 2023

Every startup investor knows - one size doesn't fit all, especially when it comes to pitch decks. Just like your product needs to fit your target audience, your pitch deck needs to resonate with the investor type you're pitching to. Be it angel investors, venture capitalists, crowdfunding platforms, or corporate venture arms, each comes with unique interests, risk tolerance, and investment strategies. Let's dive into how you can tailor your pitch deck to strike the right chord with each of them.

Angel investors: The early believers

Angel investors are usually high-net-worth individuals who provide capital for startups, often in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. They usually come in early, when the risks are high, but so are the potential rewards.

Angels invest in the entrepreneur as much as in the business. They love passion, commitment, and authenticity. So, make your pitch deck personal—tell your story, your motivation, and why you're the right person to solve this problem. Show them the potential for high returns, but also acknowledge the risks involved and how you plan to mitigate them. Given their early-stage involvement, focus more on the problem, your solution, and market size, rather than detailed financial projections.

Venture capitalists (VCs): The growth accelerators

VCs are institutional investors who typically come in later stages, when your startup shows promising traction and market fit. They provide substantial capital to help accelerate growth, aiming for a high return when the startup is sold or goes public.

VCs want to see scalability, significant market size, and a robust business model. Your pitch deck should showcase your traction—be it revenue, customer acquisition, or other growth metrics—and your plans for scaling. They're keen to understand your competitive landscape and your unique value proposition. Detailed financial projections and your exit strategy are crucial for VCs.

Crowdfunding: The power of the crowd

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo allow you to raise capital from a large number of people, usually via the internet. Backers fund your project in exchange for your product, equity, or rewards.

Crowdfunding is all about storytelling and community building. Backers fund projects they believe in and can connect with. Your pitch deck (or campaign page) should engage emotionally, highlight your project's uniqueness, and create excitement. Visuals are crucial here—videos, images, infographics, anything that tells your story in an engaging way. Also, outline what's in it for the backers—the rewards, the impact, the feeling of being part of something special.

Corporate venture capital (CVC): The strategic partners

CVC is the investment arm of large corporations, investing in startups that align with the parent company's strategic goals.

CVCs look for strategic fit. They're interested in how your startup can align with their business—be it through potential partnerships, synergies, or even acquisition. Your pitch deck should highlight this strategic value proposition, along with the standard elements like market size, competitive advantage, and financial projections. CVCs are usually less risk-tolerant, so showing some traction can be advantageous.

Accelerators and Incubators: The startup nurturers

These entities offer funding, mentorship, and resources in exchange for equity. They usually run cohort-based programs ending in a demo day where startups pitch to other investors.

Accelerators and incubators look for startups with high growth potential that can benefit from their programs. Your pitch deck should show a strong team, a scalable business model, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Highlight how you can benefit from their specific program and how they can benefit from having you in their cohort.

Remember, while it's important to tailor your pitch deck to your investor type, there are elements common to all great pitch decks—clarity, brevity, and passion. Keep your slides clean and concise. Be brutally honest about the problem, your solution, the market, the competition, and your financials. Show passion for your venture and conviction in its success. After all, at the heart of every successful pitch is not just a great business idea, but a passionate and credible entrepreneur who can turn that idea into reality.

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