When you're building a new startup, the first thing accelerators, mentors, and investors will ask about is your pitch deck.
When I first joined the startup world, I had no clue what a pitch deck was.
So for those of you who are as clueless as me when I first made the switch:
A pitch deck is a brief presentation used to provide your audience with an overview of your business plan.
You will usually use your pitch deck during face-to-face or online meetings with potential investors, customers, partners, and co-founders.
Simply put, it's a simple way to tell people what you're building, and your research/plans around.
A pitch deck is quite different from a business plan - in fact, when I joined the startup world, the last thing I wanted to do was make a business plan.
Where a pitch deck is a few (around 10) pages of brief content, a business plan is a detailed plan of everything you're going to do in the business, up to 60 pages or more.
A pitch deck is a great way to find your footing and, when executed properly, can also act as your business plan too.
This article is going to discuss how to create an irresistible pitch deck along with the 11 main slides you need to have on it.
The first thing you're going to want to outline on your pitch deck is going to be the problem you're looking to solve.
Remember, a pitch deck is not supposed to be anything like a business plan - the faster you can get through and articulate the problem the better.
With Hawk Prospecting, the problem we're solving is finding qualified prospects for your business.
It usually takes a ton of time to find prospects and ways to contact them and so this is the problem our software, Hawk Prospecting simplifies and solves.
The problem must be clear and concise.
You also need to make sure that the problem is a real problem that an audience faces, not something you're thinking about on your own.
Make sure that the problem is a pressing problem, something that your audience wants to solve urgently.
Make sure that the problem is important - your audience should already be on the lookout for software or a solution that helps them with this problem (but ideally haven't found that yet).
The more people who have this problem the better - however, there have been times where what seemed to be a small market turned into a billion-dollar business.
Look at Shopify, Airbnb, etc.
The solution is simply what your answer to the problem is.
For example, with Hawk Prospecting, the problem was that it's too difficult to consistently find qualified prospects and their contact information.
Hawk Prospecting is the solution - it's software that has the largest B2B database covering over 2.5 billion+ prospects.
You can easily find your prospect's contact information (like their emails (personal and work), numbers, social media, and more) with a click of a button.
Again, make sure that your solution is short and concise.
The solution should be something that directly addresses and solves the problem.
It's important you talk to your target market in order to get an indication of the sort of solutions they may be looking for.
However, be careful not to listen to everything they tell you.
People are not good at telling you what they want - most of what will be said will probably be nice to have, but nothing that really solves the problem.
The best way to come up with a solution is to listen to the problem, see where the current alternatives lack, and build for that.
For a long time, I owned a marketing agency.
I was lured into the business model through someone's story which sounded very similar to mine.
Seeing someone, who was in the same shoes as me, barely older than me, living the life I can only dream of gave me the motivation I needed to get up and start a marketing agency.
It was all sunshine and rainbows at the start.
We were building the site, learning the service, and it was only a matter of time till businesses flood to us for help.
7/8 grueling months later, I was in the worst state of mind possible.
My agency has had made barely any progress, and the amount of work I was putting in was producing nothing but sadness and depression.
Over these 7/8 months, I got to learn about the pain points most agency owners and service-based businesses faced.
I understood the challenges of prospecting and finding clients, and also knew that the current alternatives were limited in their capabilities.
I wanted to change this and this is when the idea of Hawk Prospecting was born.
The story is simply the lead-up, the 'aha' moment that made you start working on your business.
For everyone, this may be different.
The more genuine and real the story is, the more it resonates with people, the better.
Make sure your story has a clear purpose and not just a random story that has nothing to do with your business.
Does it make sense to bring a solution like yours to life right now?
Are people able to use this solution now?
Is it too early?
In a lot of cases, the timing is going to align with your product. Unless you're trying to build something like cars that can fly to the moon, then you should be good.
At that point, the timing doesn't really make sense.
We don't have flying cars which are accessible yet.
We don't have a way to reliably go to the moon, for cheap.
Therefore, it would be very early to build something like flying cars to the moon.
Here, you can also talk about market trends - what's happening in your market, and trends or patterns that indicate it's a good market to get into?
Any future growth projections which indicate a large market?
Talk all about the market trends and timing.
When I first got into the world of startups, and now SaaS, I was led to believe that in order to raise capital, I would need to have some sort of product built out.
The software development team I worked with, although great guys, tricked me into paying $2000 for a wireframe.
A clickable version of how the app flow will look like.
This is all unnecessary.
The only thing that really matters at the end of the day, is going to be whether people value the solution you're building and if it has potential for future growth.
For Hawk Prospecting, if I were to raise money, investors would want to know about how many users I have, and the growth rate of the users.
More importantly, I'd say that what really matters is the retention of these users.
How long do they spend on the software?
Do they come back consistently?
Do they rely on it?
Do they pay for software, or stay on the free plan?
All of these are signs of traction - or not.
The better your traction and the traction roadmap look, the more interested investors and others would be in your business.
Don't focus on users, but focus on the more important figures like retention and the stickiness of your business.
If people 'stick' around, that's the first sign you've got a great business in the making.
If you're struggling to get users to come back, it's probably a sign of a bad business.
Another important part of your whole business is the market.
When Shopify founder, Tobias Lutke, pitched to investors the idea of a platform where others can build online businesses, they saw that the market for this solution was quite small.
This seemingly small problem led to investors losing out on millions, maybe even billions in the future all because the market seemed small.
Tobias Lutke had a vision for the product but the thing standing between his vision and reality was the investors who thought that the market was too small.
In fact, nowadays, a lot of investors and startup mentors who have built massively successful businesses advise that you should start with a really small market.
Facebook, as an example, started by targeting their university campus.
Within weeks, they were able to acquire most of the students on the campus and then moved on to dominate the next campus.
Students in large/famous universities maybe make up less than 1 million total users.
This is an insanely small market size because even if you are to capture 1% of the market, which is something you should never say in your deck, you're only getting 1000 users.
However, Facebook was a really good product that quickly caught the attention of students, then quickly, the whole world.
You will also want to discuss:
TAM - Total addressable market (the total market available that can use your product)
SAM - Serviceable Available Market (The total market you can serve with your product)
SOM - Serviceable Obtainable Market (The total market you can obtain within a timeframe)
This was a weird concept to get around in my mind, however, it's crucial for investors and others to see how large the market you're targeting is, and the expectation of growth you have of capturing that market.
Competition is a scary concept in business.
New entrepreneurs are cursed with the idea that competition means no space for more businesses.
However, take a look at Uber, for example.
Uber is the largest on-demand cab app in the world.
Who can compete with them?
Lots of people, actually. Here in the UK, there's a really large Uber competitor called Bolt.
Bolt is growing very fast and is on many devices.
Competition is not an issue - in fact, even innovation isn't a problem sometimes.
Bolt and Uber are different in, let's see... 0 different ways.
There might be small differences, however, they both do the same thing, with no difference whatsoever.
With that said, you should still be careful - don't neglect the competition.
Hawk Prospecting has A LOT of competition, none of which are good enough to compete with us in my opinion.
Once we're able to see traction, our product will quickly become superior to the competition.
I'm going to cover our advantages in the next point, however, here you must mention all the known competitors, direct and indirect too.
The more you know about the competition, the better because you won't be thrown off guard when someone asks, "have you heard of X?"
Trust me, it's a terrible feeling.
The advantage is important - especially if you're looking to raise money.
Investors want to know why your product is better than the competition.
Although I just shared an example of Uber and Bolt which had virtually no differentiation, yet they're both billion-dollar companies.
Hawk Prospecting, I believe, will be the most superior sales and marketing software in the world.
We have advantages in:
- data quality
- database size (10X larger than some of the largest competitors)
- data coverage (we share more data)
- ease of use
- Search parameters (we work on both Facebook and LinkedIn + a few other ways)
- Built-in features
- Our vision (what we want to see happen in the world of sales and marketing and how our product plays a part in it)
- and more
How is your business going to make money?
Are you going to be a B2B company?
Are you a B2C company?
Are you a SaaS?
Will you charge monthly subscriptions, annual subscriptions?
Will you simply be a one-time purchase, an e-commerce store usually does this.
Will you follow Facebook and be an advertising platform?
There are many different ways to monetize your business. However, it's important that you choose a monetization strategy that makes sense to you and the business.
Hawk Prospecting, being a SaaS, is a monthly and annual subscription service.
Whilst writing this part of the article, I noticed that we can also add a done-for-you service to our product where we generate leads and prospects for businesses for a premium.
For example, 10,000 leads for £4999.
You can have different monetization strategies, you don't have to only have one.
The more ways you make money, the better.
The team is a very important part of the whole thing.
If the team seems incapable of bringing the vision to life, investors will not invest.
Investors need to make sure that the team knows what they're doing.
Better yet, there needs to be a team - not a one-man-band.
Whilst working on Condensr, I only had myself on the team slide.
This made some investors I spoke with think that I alone was incapable of making this business work.
And they were right - Condensr was a massive project that one person alone would find challenging to make happen.
Investors want to see a team with chemistry, people who each specialise in different parts of the business.
Only then, will they consider it.
If you've had previous experience in growing businesses successfully, you'll want to add this here too.
Investors love when they invest in people who have a much higher chance of success due to previous experience.
Finally, especially if you're looking to raise capital, you'll want to ensure the amount of money you're looking to raise is outlined here.
Don't be afraid to ask for more than you need.
The worst thing that can happen is that you ask for investment, raise it, spend it all, and realise that you need more to make the business successful.
When you raise more than you need, you have some sort of safety net.
Mentioning how much you're looking to raise is not enough though.
Investors also want to know where their money is going.
If it's being spent on feeding the team, they won't invest.
But if the money is being spent on business development, testing, marketing, research, product development, etc, they'll understand that this is well spent.
That's how you can create an irresistible pitch deck.
We've outlined 11 crucial slides every successful pitch deck needs.
Just remember that you must keep this short, concise, and simple to understand.
You're now able to present your idea to investors and other people.
I'd also use the pitch deck as a business plan because we've essentially built a 2-in-1 pitch deck that acts as a plan/roadmap for your business.
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Till next time,
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