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7 Pitch Deck Tips from Top Investors

jonathan engle

Jonathan Engle

Read Time: 2 minutes

The week of Jan 22, 2024 Startup Stack participated in Utah Tech Week. There were 180 events over 6 days, of which we were able to participate in 10 and sponsor one. One of our new upcoming vendors, Matthew Rowett with GoGlobal, said that “Utah Tech Week feels like San Francisco did 10-15 years ago,” and I totally agree. His sentiments reflected the overwhelming sense of generosity, kindness, enthusiasm, and passion for building great things. 

One of the biggest topics covered was how to approach fundraising, particularly within your pitch deck strategy. Here are the key takeaways I gathered from the experts in attendance. 

Inspire Greed

The goal of your deck is to inspire greed. Fundraising is all about the psychology of the investor. Investors talk to each other about their deals within the ecosystem. You want to inspire FOMO in your investors and build momentum behind your investment round. - Stephen Walter from Paintbrush.

Before you publicly launch your round, line up multiple investors so that there’s clear momentum. If you announce a $500k round that already has $200k funded, that’s going to be far more exciting than starting at $0.

If you’re going to name drop, you better have a fantastic relationship with that investor. You will be fact checked, and it can help a deal or kill it immediately.

Establish Expertise

Share who you are upfront. Establish yourself as an expert and prove why investors should trust you. Establishing your street cred in 10-15 seconds builds rapport with them. - Techstars Pause & Play event on January 23, 2024

Build Rapport Upfront

Build rapport early in the pitch through humor or some sort of story. Pull the investors out of their phones and into your pitch. Share a story or some personal quip that engages your audience. This doesn’t need to take long - even a clever one-liner or a personal anecdote will make your pitch more engaging.  - Techstars Pause & Play event on January 23, 2024

Context Slide First

Start every pitch deck with a context slide which summarizes the timeline of the business, team, key milestones, investment round, etc. This is a requirement before pitching at Park City and Salt Lake City Angels groups. These investors appreciate having an overview upfront so that they’re not left wondering until the end of the presentation some of these key pieces of information. - Tim Cooley

Different Pitch Deck Versions

Distinguish between a pitch deck you use live versus a leave-behind deck with more information. The live deck should never have more than 10 words per slide. The leave behind deck should be readable without you presenting it and can hold more content. - Trent Mano, Convoi Ventures

It’s worth noting that good pitch deck preparation companies received praise. We love Decko’s work and highly recommend considering them if you need more hands-on pitch deck development. Your deck could make the difference between raising your round or not, so it’s worth working with the best.

Milestones Slide

Your deck needs a milestone slide. Otherwise you risk seemingly like a new business with no traction. Investors need to see your history and consistent progress over time. Prove your ability to execute on this slide. - Tim Cooley

Don’t Be Different - PDF or PPT Decks Only

Don’t try to do something different. Video pitch decks or other different formats are annoying to investors and turn them off from your business. It’s best to conform and follow the rest of the industry. Reference the Sequoia deck guide, YCombinator pitch deck guide, and Tim Cooley’s book on pitch decks. - Stephen Walter from Paintbrush.

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