As an entrepreneur, a pitch deck is one of the most important tools in your ever-expanding toolbox. Whether you’re looking to present the business opportunity to your friends and family, a venture capital firm, a bank, or for an equity-crowdfunding campaign, you will need a strong pitch deck (and clear concise messaging too - learn more about that here).
But what makes a pitch deck strong?
And can you use the same pitch deck for every pitch?
Something that we’ve come to notice in working with companies on their raise is that the investor deck they want to use for their campaign is sometimes the same one they use at live pitch events. While it seems intuitive to use the pitch deck across multiple platforms, the information communicated or conveyed at a live event may be different with an in-person audience. We know from experience the value that anecdotes can contribute to pitching an opportunity and oftentimes those stories or background information are not written on the slides, but rather spoken with authenticity.
So while it’s a good idea to create a master pitch deck, we recommend you customize it for the audience and the medium in which it will be distributed. With that in mind, here are 5 tips for creating a great crowdfunding pitch deck:
1. Know your audience
Investors who support private companies through crowdfunding are very passionate about getting to know the business. They want to understand the story of how your company came to be and get to know the team behind it all. Trust and authenticity are incredibly important for these investors.
So all the anecdotes and authenticity that you would bring to a live investor event should be communicated in your crowdfunding pitch deck where possible. This could include the reason behind starting the business, what the company's mission is, a little bit about yourself as the founder, and any other information that will resonate with your potential investors. Don’t shy away from showcasing your brand’s personality.
2. Consider the medium
Equity crowdfunding gives a 1-1 interaction the scalability of 1-100. In other words it provides you both value and volume, creating an intimate connection with each of your investors without you having to reach out to all of them individually. Potential investors get directed to a single page where they have the opportunity to learn everything they want to know about the business and then make the decision to invest. Also keep in mind that this presentation may be downloaded, so only include information you are willing to share publicly.
We recommend keeping the presentation clear and to-the-point, but do consider that investors can’t infer details about your business unless they are written on the slides. On average investors spend 7 minutes on the campaign page so try to keep the pitch deck under 20 slides.
3. Anticipate the dragons
Who doesn’t want to feel like an experienced investor on Dragon’s Den? The objective of the pitch deck is to generate interest from investors and with interest comes questions. It’s important to realize that some investors may be very knowledgeable on your industry and business while others might be new to it.
Try to anticipate some questions they may ask and aim to answer them in the presentation. This could even be done through appendices that are made available at the end of the presentation or as notes on the slides. Also, make sure that your contact information for investor questions is clearly visible.
It’s difficult to answer everyone’s questions, so look forward to using the questions that do come to further engage with and educate these potential investors. You can also post these questions to the Q&A section of your campaign page, to benefit your entire audience.
4. Acknowledge the macro-environment
Every so often an event comes along that impacts everyone in a way that unites people in a collective experience. It could be a recession, it could be the world cup or even a global health crisis. It’s ok to talk about the state of the macro-environment and how your business is impacted. Some of our favourite companies today (Slack, Uber, and Square) were founded during the 2008 financial crisis.
What we’re seeing right now is that companies are strategically making shifts to their business to adjust to the new climate. This could be implementing more digital work policies and procedures, changing their distribution methods or even offering new services. Others may have always been well positioned to succeed in the current state. In either case, it’s ok to communicate this information. Consider tweaking some of the current state or problem slides in your pitch deck or even add a slide in the pitch deck that solely focuses on addressing the current environment. Just be sure to be sensitive to the subject matter and address it with tactfulness.
5. Focus on design
You could have the best pitch in the world but if it’s too difficult to read investors may not take the time to learn about your business. Make sure that the font is clear and easy to read and that you don’t overload each individual slide with information. Also be mindful of how many slides you have for each section. Five slides in a row dedicated to technology could be too much of the same information.
We also encourage companies to lean in to their brand. Incorporate your branded colours and visuals that represent your business into the pitch deck but also keep in mind how they read for others. For example, if your brand colours are red and blue be aware that red font on a blue background can cause strains to people’s eyes. And to be sure that your pitch deck is clear and easy to understand, we encourage everyone to test their deck by asking those close to them for some feedback.
Over to you!
Now that we've run through all the basics let's bring it all together by reviewing our 5 tips for creating your crowdfunding pitch deck:
Understand who your investors are and what they want to know
Communicate everything you need to on the slide
Answer potential questions in the slides or provide supplementary information
Don’t be afraid to address the macro-environment and how your business is impacted
Lean in to your brand and ensure the slides are easy to read