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  • Wei-Ling Chiu

The (dark) art of building the perfect pitch deck

Image Copyright: Be Bold 2018

What does your business need to progress and grow? Money. Where are you going to get it from? Read on…

Problem 2 - Creating a pitch deck

You are here

So you’ve done the groundwork. You’ve convinced early adopters that you have a business model you can start with. You may have even gotten them to sign letters of intent. But there’s a problem - you aren’t making enough money to make it worth your while.

At Kudoti in March 2021, for example, we had a product and a market. Our users had traded 300 tons of material on our software as a service product in two months. Awesome! But, we made R1000 ($ 55). There wasn't enough money in the transaction to pay for the platform !

So we had to look at something that is NOT in the standard Business Model Canvas - cash to burn.

You need funders

Ideally, you need to get paid enough to live a modest, debt-free life while solving the problem you are solving. To do this, you need to find people with deeper pockets who are willing to work with you to solve the problem.

Here you have options. Potential funders include:

  • Co-founders with cash and competence.

  • Big corporations which, for their own reasons, want to see this problem solved. These can also be your early B2B customers and users so they make a great payer.

  • Accelerators which offer grants, where you compete to win. If you win, you get market visibility, confidence that you are doing the right thing, and some debt free or equity free cash.

  • Early stage or Angel investors who are willing to be by your side for ten years or so.

Crafting your pitch deck

A pitch deck is like a master key to open the doors you need to get funding for your startup. Each time you open a door, the key gets more refined, and, over time, you’ll be able to unlock a bunch of doors without much effort. How much time that takes depends on how fast you learn.

What your deck needs (and doesn’t need)

Your pitch deck is just that - a deck. It’s not a thesis or proposal and should be 10 slides max, with 7 to 10 words per slide. You’ll likely have 3 to 5 minutes to pitch your idea, 15 if they like you, so keep it short, simple and compelling.

Try your best not to email your deck in. If you have to, and will not be able to present it in person, make sure to add one or two sentences in small font at the bottom of each slide to provide context and detail for readers.

Essential ingredients

  1. The problem

  2. The solution

  3. The business model

  4. The traction

  5. The team

  6. Recognition - client & user testimonials, awards

  7. The ask - how much do you need and what will you do with it

  8. A crisp, outcomes-based financial model

  9. The vision

In addition, you may be required to present:

  1. Total addressable market - all possible subscribers x all the money charged by all the players in the market x time.

  2. Serviceable obtainable market - the subscribers you can realistically acquire with what you are asking for x what your subscribers will realistically pay you x time.

  3. Competitive analysis - your direct and indirect competitors

  4. Key real-life use cases of your concept

The most important criteria are track-record, a solid understanding of the problem you are solving, your assumptions and how well you’ve thought through them, and burn rate.

Your ‘burn rate’ is how much cash you will need to spend before you prove value and perhaps some scale at this early stage.

Making a pitch deck is the start of your journey. Don’t expect that cheque just yet, but if you do it just right you may get a call-back for a detailed discussion on your business from a reputable funder or a corporate client. You are almost at the start of an ultramarathon. Breathe and remind yourself to pace it right.

Some famous pitches

Some great reads

  1. Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson - Be smarter than your lawyer and venture capitalist.

  2. Sell more faster by Amos Schwartzfarb


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