By Ivan Meakins with James Church
How would you like to be 40 times more investable when pitching your business?
According to research conducted by Fundable, only about 0.96 per cent of businesses actually secure funding from venture capitalists (VCs) and angel investors. Given the sheer amount of pitch decks submitted each year, this statistic is discouraging.
So, what separates these founders from the rest of the pack? How do they secure investment and position their businesses for growth in a highly competitive market?
It seems one of the answers lies in constructing a compelling pitch deck.
The core challenge
When James and his business partner, Nicholas Ruston, initially founded Robot Mascot, they were primarily brand communication experts, helping clients convey their core message to prospects.
Their journey took a turn when they delved into the world of pitch decks and discovered a common thread that runs through every failed pitch: communication. Many founders struggle to get their pitch across without sending investors straight to sleep.
This discovery prompted James and Nicholas to apply their brand communications expertise to the investment sphere and create a successful pitch deck formula. It’s why their clients are 40 times more likely to secure investment!
Striking a balance
Think about the last great ad you saw. What stood out to you? Its creativity? Originality? It could be any of these things, but at the heart of it all the best advertising campaigns are those that hit the nail on the head and distil complex ideas into a digestible message.
It’s very much the same with investors and pitch decks.
James: “We have to appeal emotionally to investors and get them excited about the vision and the big purpose. But then, we also have to appeal logically to them and tick off their checklist of requirements – a clear plan of action, how you’re going to achieve growth, and what your plans are for scaling up and delivering a return on their investment. So essentially, striking that balance between logic and emotion is key.”
What are the mistakes founders make when submitting a pitch deck?
According to James, most founders make one huge mistake: pitching for investment. But in reality, they should be pitching for TIME – getting the investor to invest their time into finding out more about your business.
The pitch is merely a conversation starter – a foot in the door of investment – whereas the real work begins once you’ve managed to snag investors’ attention. This means that the pitch needs to highlight the most interesting parts of your business while still maintaining simplicity and conciseness.
James: “I think one mistake most founders make is overcomplicating the pitch – trying to be too clever by cramming so much stuff into the pitch, being afraid of questions and being afraid of leaving things out. However, it’s important to note that the pitch is just the conversation opener, and you just need to give enough information to spark interest in the key areas that investors want reassurance around.
The rest of the detail can then go into the business plan, financial projections, and the additional materials that you might store in a data room. But keep the pitch short, concise, and articulate.”
Structuring your pitch
So what should your pitch deck look like?
The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all template for a killer pitch deck. Some experts may recommend that you lead with your vision, others may ask you to lead with your team – the list goes on.
James recommends following a five-act structure:
- The hook: Lead with the big vision – the one thing that will get investors emotionally connected to the pitch. Remember you’re pitching for their time, so if you don’t capture their attention from the start, you risk losing them even before reaching the midpoint of your pitch.
- Your value proposition: What is your market offering? Who are your target customers? Why would they choose your product over your competitors’?
- Evidence: At this stage, present the research and evidence that substantiates your business’s relevance in the market.
James: “If it’s a concept stage business, prove that it’s something the market wants or needs. If it’s a more established business with users and revenue, provide data to show that the market is currently adopting your product at an ever-increasing rate.”
- A top-level plan of action: What will your growth strategy entail? What are your long-term and short-term objectives? How do you plan to execute them? What are your key hires?
- The financial data: Finally, your pitch should showcase a comprehensive financial plan – one that assures investors of a well-structured business geared for growth.
People are naturally attracted to engaging, emotive and data-driven narratives. Hence, the importance of this five-act storytelling structure.
The first two acts lay the foundation by creating an emotional bond with your investors. The last two acts cater to their logic, creating a rational connection. The third act, showcasing evidence, serves as a seamless transition, bridging the gap between emotion and logic.
The bottom line
As James points out, building a compelling pitch goes beyond piecing a few slides together. It’s an art form that should reflect every aspect of your business’ journey so far. When you put in the work – research, preparation, a solid business case and a comprehensive structure – you’ll end up with a compelling narrative and a pitch that convinces investors that your business is the one to back.
If you’d like to connect with James and find out more about how he helps entrepreneurs become investor-ready, find him on LinkedIn.
If you enjoyed this blog or listened to the Climb podcast and wanted some advice on how to create regular thought leadership content for your business, get in touch with Write Business Results today.