Anyone looking to raise money for their business will be aware of the need for a good pitch deck but how do you know what good looks like?

Equally, which of the seemingly endless templates is the best to follow and how do you know when it is ready for investors?

Rather than add to the number of ‘how-to’ guides on the market, I’ve shared some key principles so you can maintain a sensible helicopter view of the pitch deck as it fits into the wider context of your business and its journey.

Let’s start with a recap. In its simplest form a pitch deck is a presentation that entrepreneurs put together when seeking investment.

Opinions vary but most pitch decks will contain between 10-20 slides.

As a corporate lawyer working in the tech space, I advise a lot of entrepreneurs, start-ups, scale-ups etc and I don’t think any pitch deck should take longer than six weeks to finish.

Business giants to share secrets of growth

At the end of the day, the deck is a static document for a moment in time, to obtain funding by giving prospective investors information on five key points. What the business is, where it is today, where it can go, what it needs to get there and who will lead it there. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you then consider that you wouldn’t want to use more than 10 per cent of runway for any given task (save perhaps critical R&D and product development). Put another way the deck should occupy no more than five weeks of a 52-week runway.

With this in mind, hit the following key points with simple impactful messages and supporting data and get it out to prospective investors early.

1. Kick-off with a clear and compelling opening slide. Grab the investor’s attention and communicate what your business is all about, using simple concise statements to describe your product or service.

2. Tell the story and make it compelling. Emotional connection to the business is what is usually the difference so make sure you keep it human as well as commercial.

3. Focus on the problem your business is solving. Use relatable anecdotes and wherever possible, show how your product or service will make a difference in people’s lives.

4. Highlight your unique value proposition. It is vital you communicate why your business, why your product or service (as opposed to any other). Show what makes your business different from the competition and highlight your unique selling proposition and why your product or service will be chosen over others.

5. Use data (judiciously) to support the business case. The business must have strong growth potential especially for VC and PE investors whose strategies demand high multiple returns. Use data and market research to support your claims and show that you have a solid understanding of your market.

6. Finish with a clear and powerful call to action. Remember the purpose of the deck – to raise money and get to the next stage of growth. Be clear on the outcome the management team wants for the business and make it easy for investors to take the next step with your business.

Finally, don’t overdo it. Keep your deck concise and focused, no more than 10 or so slides. The deck showcases your management capabilities so it must be clear, considered and logical and reflect your team’s personality and flair.

Arc Systems sails away with PE investment

If you can do this you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning pitch deck that resonates with investors and helps you secure the funding you need to grow your business.