There are countless tactics and tools for marketers, personas focus your marketing by building a story around your audience. You look to connect, to...
How to create the best pitch deck your investors have ever seen!
Resident expert, Guillaume Ang, highlights the best method for creating the best pitch deck that will wow potential investors, it'll be the best they've ever seen.
The team behind Upflowy recently secured $4 million to help us continue defining the future of personalized online experiences with our product. It got picked up on TechCrunch, and a number of other media, which mostly helped us reach out to a number of new humans who picked us up to support their own business.
As a Co-Founder, I am so excited for what this funding means for our customers and for our team. I started with a vision of what Upflowy was here to help with. From conversation after conversation, I kept talking to entrepreneurs, marketers, and product managers who were struggling with the optimization of their user's journey. Something I realized, with my knowledge, I could help with (you can read more about the story here).
Pitching has been a critical component of my upbringing as an entrepreneur. I remember my first pitch while still a student. I remember my first elevator pitch -failed- to a high VC profile at a conference. I remember my first time on a stage in front of hundreds. I also remember pitching my now-cofounders, my partner, my parents. I remember meeting each one of my now teammates for the first time and trying to onboard them in the big vision, the big story that makes me excited to operate Upflowy every day.
I reflect back on why these key pitching moments have remained so vivid in my memory and what comes to my mind first is the clear recollection of how these people reacted when they finally connected with the larger idea behind the business, behind the opportunity. Sometimes it was a look, sometimes a silent pause.
But I learned over time one thing…
It’s all about the story
I’ve been spending countless hours advising, investing in, and working for entrepreneurs over the past 15 years, and more often than not, I’ve been focusing on helping them achieve similar defining moments with their own audience. The secret sauce behind it won’t come as a surprise:
Tell the right story. Stories have helped visionaries engage with their audience since the dawn of time. While this millenary art has been analyzed and taught by so many, I find that every new context in which storytelling can prove useful needs its own set of tools and recipes.
As an example, this work of art on how to build a sales deck has been a turning point in my capacity to sell to companies using stories. I still refer back to it regularly. The pitch story has been likened to a movie trailer, building interest and excitement through the communication of pivotal yet engaging information.
However, in the context of pitching investors, I’ve come to realize that most early-stage founders tend to rely on a set of inhomogeneous templates, with specific headlines for each slide articulated around a seemingly arbitrary order, without realizing that what underlies every great investor pitch is a great story.
I’m trying in this article to try to break down the key components of a great story when it comes to building a great pitch deck. How to craft the narrative to bring investors on a journey to create a solution to a problem. To serve a pain point.
Looking back at my work with a number of companies and the recent pitching we did for Upflowy, I have pulled together the core 7 elements that you, as a Startup, want to focus on to wow your investors and nail your pitch.
On a side note, a good starting place, if you haven’t yet composed your one-sentence pitch is for you to check out this article as well!
The 7 Elements of a great pitch deck
We believe that to tell the right story, your pitch needs to include the 7 elements that you see in the below graphic. They make up ‘Market, Key learnings, Big vision (also named “Winners and Losers”), Product, Proof of Concept, Early traction and finally Go to market’.
This narrative follows the very efficient “bowtie” structure.
It initially positions your audience in the wide frame of what they know, giving them some familiar elements to relate to (Market). It then focuses on specific pain, using key learnings that they will be grateful for you to share (Key Learnings), to finally narrow down on a distant but powerful vision (the Big Vision) that finds its closure in the central keystone of your story: your Product.
From this narrow point of focus, it then expands back again towards the potentiality of success of your innovation, creating the right degree of trust that it is feasible (Proof of Concept), then the early signs of greatness (Early Traction) and finally the bright road ahead (Go to Market).
We will go through each element but before you do so, we’ve put together these 3 essential pieces of advice to help you deliver your story with the highest chance of success:
- An irrefutable narrative. What you’re trying to create here is an irrefutable narrative. For that purpose, create statements for each step that seem to logically flow from the previous steps, and are grounded in data and strong observations.
- Simplicity is your ally. While your perception of your own field is one of an expert, nourished by your understanding of its underlying complexity, you want to skim it down to its most rigorous simplicity. This will give you the aura of a true specialist. As Albert Einstein has put it so elegantly: “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”
- The excitement of the learner. Investors are mostly not specialists, they are learning a new field. It is up to you to create the feeling of excitement while taking them through a logical suite of statements. The journey you’re taking them through should feel to them like your most enlightening learning experience.
By doing so, you will also implicitly send investors the message that you are the best person to leverage your idea. It is about saying to these investors “I am able to convince you that there is an opportunity and I'm the best person to take it forward. Time to invest.”.
Here are the 7 components you want to include at the very start of your pitch deck.
The first thing you want to get started with is a market fact. This is giving a level of understanding of the market so they can connect to what you are trying to present.
You want to start with something that seems like a very well-known fact, a very well-known assessment of the situation. For Upflowy, ours was something that everyone experiences every day, which is when you go to buy a service online.
People can connect with a fact. And that's where you have knowledge. We (at Upflowy) have knowledge of a 60% drop in conversion rate, which is something that our investors didn’t know before. But we do. In marketing, that's basically explaining the pain. It's trying to put a number on the pain that almost everyone that is in the investor space can relate to. Sizing the pain.
So rethink. Instead of starting your presentation by introducing your product, your locations, your clients, or anything about your business, create a market statement that names something no one can argue with and creates urgency.
What is your market fact? Something that everyone can relate to while also putting a number on the pain point. Start with this statement in your deck.
The next statement is related to a key learning. This is an extremely important part because it allows you to showcase your expertise and why it is the right time to invest. As we know, timing is everything.
For Upflowy, our key learning is that people have been handling this part of the funnel and now most of the market is at a stage where they want to optimize the next step. When we look at the market out there, the best companies do it in the way that Upflowy represents, the sign up flow.
We know that. There is this pain that has been defined and now we know it is the right time to solve this conversion rate problem. From this key learning comes the big vision (what will be explained next). There are going to be winners and losers, we are here to characterize the winners and we do it through what we offer.
Big vision (or “Winners and Losers”)
The big vision is the next stage of the pitch. How you are going to start taking on the early adopters (the “winners”). You are planting the seeds of the company. You can stand there and say with confidence that what you are creating is for the future. The “best possible outcome”, the ideal world. This is what you want to create. But this is a stage where you can also show the “losers”, the loss of not having your product or solution in the lives of those who need it.
We at Upflowy can confidently say that the Web is the future. Because of third-party data and the rise in Web3, personalization is everything. Companies have to be more engaging. We show our investors this is the way of the future. The only way forward is through integration. It is by creating experiences online and optimizing them.
So what we did is take a very big market with a certain pain and we narrowed down this one pain to impact a certain market. The big vision is about showing the winners. Showing your investors how people can win. What is the desired outcome? As well as the “worst outcome” without your product or solution.
As part of the product stage of your pitch, it should be very logical. It is breaking it down to show how the “winners” work. How they get to the desired outcome.
You start to showcase what would be needed to bring the vision to life. To create the “ideal world” in the eyes of your audience and their pain point.
When you introduce the features, your product, or service, you are making it sound like the only option to create the change needed. To create this “ideal world”.
Proof of Concept
Once you have compiled the narrative, told the story, you want to head to the pointy end of your presentation. The Proof of Concept (POC) comes back to the idea. To what you are creating. What does this actually look like? Where is the proof behind the narrative you have already told?
How you move forward from the actual product is, you’ve done it. You have tested your solution. You took the minimum you think you could do and you showed how it can generate value for people.
This is where you give the evidence.
Known as your early stage of greatness. Where you showcase what you have achieved, the early traction of your product.
How you addressed the market you need to serve. You thought it was a relevant thing and it worked. You got the traction. You show how you did it. You want to go back to the market and make your company a success.
You can also use this space to share feedback from those who have tested your product. Comments from social media. All the evidence you have to back your product and its success.
Go to Market
Finally the bright road ahead. Here is where you create the urgency and your need to go to market. You have a niche and only you are going to nail this niche. The goal is to also address many more niches!
You will also want to let the investors know that you have put together a strategy to make it happen.
What is the top-level marketing plan? What channels do you plan on using? How do you know if they work? What is the expected ROI from each channel?
How to create the best pitch deck to ‘wow’ your investors
Formulate what you have been presented with above. Put together statement pieces to answer each of the 7 elements. Ask yourself questions like this:
- What's the market?
- What is the specific bad experience?
- Why do people experience it now and why are they ready to do something about it now?
- How are the winners of the world going to be solving that in the future?
- How is the product solving this?
So it's a very clinical narrowing down there. This is about painting the picture. Sharing the experience from the market statement, the key learnings from the problem, the big vision (the ideal world), the features/product to solve the issue, and the traction YOU got by trying to solve the problem. Then you present the next steps. This is a story. This is the narrative you will tell.
What about the other information and elements of your pitch deck?
These 7 elements are the part of the pitch deck that needs to be perfect. It is what I have taught Startups and how at Upflowy we created the excitement we needed to get investors on board.
The pitch side of your deck is done once you have presented these elements. This is the complex part of pitching, winning people over.
Next is “Frequently Asked Questions”. This is questions-based stuff. This article is about diving into the pitch, the part of your deck that is going to wow your investors.
Of course, other elements you want to consider are the design of your deck and the visual elements that will complement what you present. There are various templates you can download to help with this!
What you also might find helpful is the articles we have constructed around your one-sentence pitch to help focus on your “why” - you can read that here.
Creating great stories for an audience is what we at Upflowy are here to do. Our platform can be used to create compelling narratives to convince investors, customers, potential partners, and other stakeholders alike to work with you. We are here to guide and support compiling the narrative of your brand story.
So, what now? Take these 7 elements. Create a document or a presentation and add these 7 elements into headlines. Start brainstorming and noting down what content, what words, and what story is going to be pieced together to bring this to life.
It is broken down like this:
- Market statement (something no one can argue with)
- Key learnings (what problem needs to be solved)
- Big vision (the ideal world, what would it look like to live in a world with this problem solved)
- Product (what can solve this problem and create the “ideal world)
- First POC (Where is the proof of your product?)
- Early traction (what happens when you tested your product)
- Go to market (what is next? What must happen?)
Start mapping these out, create a narrative. This formula has not only been used by myself and my team at Upflowy, but I have mentored and coached other Founders and Startups to do the same thing.
Try it for your business and go out and give the best pitch investors have ever seen! Make sure you let us know how you go! Tell us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and share this with entrepreneurs who need to hear it for themselves.