Understanding what investors want to see in your pitch deck

The startup journey is filled with many challenges, and securing funding is among the most daunting. Knowing your audience, especially when that audience is a room full of potential investors, is crucial.

Mike Viney
August 18, 2023

The startup journey is filled with many challenges, and securing funding is among the most daunting. Knowing your audience, especially when that audience is a room full of potential investors, is crucial. Let's deep-dive into the psyche of financial backers, unpacking their expectations and crafting a pitch deck that checks all the boxes.

Investor psychology: More than just numbers

Before delving into the specifics of a pitch deck, it's essential to grasp the psychology behind what investors are really looking for. While profitability and ROI are at the forefront, there's a deeper narrative that intrigues most investors.

  • Founder credibility: Investors are often said to invest in people, not just ideas. They gauge the founders' ability to execute the vision.
  • Risk vs. Reward: Investors understand that startups come with inherent risks. They're evaluating if the potential rewards outweigh those risks.
  • Gut feeling: Believe it or not, a lot of investment decisions boil down to gut instinct—a connection to the story or the team, or just a feeling that "this is the next big thing."

Breaking down investor expectations

Now, let's decode what an investor hopes to glean from your pitch deck:

  1. The big problem: Start with the issue you're addressing. Is it significant enough to warrant a solution, and more importantly, an investment?
  2. Your unique solution: How are you solving this problem, and what sets your solution apart from the competition?
  3. Market size: How big is the potential market? This gives a glimpse into the scale of opportunity.
  4. Business model: How do you plan to make money? This can include your revenue streams, pricing strategy, and sales channels.
  5. Traction: Any signs of success, like initial sales, user engagement, or partnerships, can demonstrate product-market fit and growth potential.
  6. Marketing and sales strategy: How will you acquire and retain customers?
  7. Financial projections: What are your revenue forecasts, and what will the funds be used for? Be realistic and transparent.
  8. The team: Highlight key team members, their backgrounds, and why they are equipped to make this startup a success.
  9. Ask: Clearly state how much funding you're seeking and what you're offering in return, whether it's equity, convertible notes, etc.

Meeting expectations with a killer pitch deck

With the above in mind, here are some strategies to ensure your pitch deck isn't just good, but unforgettable:

  • Storytelling is key: Weave a compelling narrative around your startup journey. Share the 'why' behind your venture. Why does this problem need solving? Why are you the right person to do it?
  • Simplify: Avoid jargon and get straight to the point. Use simple, clear language to explain even the most complex ideas.
  • Visual appeal: A cluttered, text-heavy slide is an instant turn-off. Use visuals, infographics, and charts to convey data in an engaging manner.
  • Practice: The content is just half the battle. Your delivery, confidence, and ability to handle questions will significantly influence investor perceptions.
  • Feedback loop: Before the big pitch, present your deck to mentors, peers, or industry experts. Incorporate their feedback to refine your pitch.

Remember the human element

In the fast-paced world of startup fundraising, it's easy to get lost in figures, valuations, and market sizes. But always remember that investors, beneath it all, are human. They're driven by emotions, beliefs, and instincts as much as by hard data.

Your aim? Strike a balance. Marry hard facts with a passionate story. Show them the potential, but also be genuine about the risks. Demonstrate your undying commitment to your venture, and you might just inspire them to commit too.

In summary, understanding the investor's psyche is foundational to crafting a pitch deck that resonates. Know what they're looking for, tailor your message, and always, always be authentic. The perfect pitch deck doesn't just secure funding; it builds lasting relationships that can shape the trajectory of your startup journey. So, gear up, be prepared, and pitch like you've never pitched before.

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