With the current market trends for VC funding on a decline, raising capital has become more difficult and competitive for start-ups than ever before. For many founders it is an extremely exhausting and stressful process, but with hope and a good pitch there may just be a pot of gold (in the form of a check) at the end of the rainbow.
According to the 2016 MoneyTree Venture Capital Funding Report (by PWC and CB Insights), the number of deals (and amount of capital) in venture capital funding has consistently declined for the last three (3) quarters, with Q4 2016 hitting a five (5) year low.
You've done your research and developed an excel sheet with early stage investors that fit your criteria (and you fit theirs!!). If the investor opens up that unsolicited pitch deck you just sent over (which you will know when it's opened, because you are using email tracking tools), you have about 30 seconds to get their attention before she/he hits delete. They replied back and want a meeting? Congratulations, you bought yourself another 5 to 10 minutes to keep their attention and get them interested. Here are a few tips to increase your success of landing that meeting.
1. Keep Your Pitch Deck Under 15 Slides
Keep your pitch deck under 15 slides (20 at the absolute max), and constantly refine it along the way to incorporate important feedback from investors. Typically an early stage investor's inbox is already full of pitch decks, the first thing they will look at is how long it is. 40 Pages? Delete!
2. The First Few Slides Must Be Interesting and To The Point:
Time is valuable to everyone. Make sure the first few slides create excitement and interest, that's the only currency buying you more time throughout the fundraising process.
3. It's a Pitch Deck, Not A Book:
Avoid slides that are too wordy, and focus on highlighting the point of each slide as simple as possible. Don't leave out valuable information, but don't fill up white space with buzz words and fluff. Investors will see right through that.
4. Financial Projections With Data Driven Assumptions:
$0 to a Billion in 1 Year? Outlandish financial projections will be sure to turn off investors, instead make sure data drives your assumptions and highlight some of the key drivers of your model. Strong growth is crucial, and the projections should be a reflection of successfully executing your strategy to your target market.
5. Effectively Communicating Your Story, Strategy, Business Model and Differentiation is Crucial:
It isn't about who has the prettiest deck - it's about you, the business and your ability to execution on your strategy and vision. This early in your company's stage, most investors are evaluating you and your team as the primary driver of success. Make sure your deck conveys this effectively.