How to Structure Your Pitch Presentation, from Chausson Finance Partner Eyal Lavin

Creating a deck that intrigues and impresses investors is key to securing funding. Labs mentor Eyal Lavin, partner at Chausson Finance, held a Labs session all about investor presentations, from his top tips for the presentation itself to the order in which you should present key information. Plus, why you should always set your first presentation with an investor who’ll give you tough feedback.

Presentation tips

Keep it concise

“Plan for 20 to 25 minutes, with about 20 slides,” Lavin says. “Each one has to have a punch. If you show it to people and they aren’t wowed by each slide, you need to change it.” Being concise goes for what’s on the slides, too. “You should have less words and more graphs or icons,” Lavin says. “And if you must show a video, it needs to be less than 10 seconds. Any longer and it creates awkward silences in the room.”

Play the tape back

“Film yourself practicing the presentation and review the footage,” Lavin says. “You’ll be able to see the things that make you cringe and the things that you want to do better.”

Make your presentation match your product

“Try to emulate your app, website, or product in the presentation,” Lavin says. “If you have an app, your deck should look like your app. Use the same icons, fonts, patterns, etc.” And be meticulous about the design. “A deck that doesn’t look amazing reflect on who you are as an entrepreneur,” Lavin says.

Presentation structure

Your deck doesn’t need to include every single piece of information about your business, but there are certain elements investors expect to see. “It needs to include a cover slide with the name of your company and a tagline. If you have a couple of very impressive metrics you can flash them on the next slide to show that you’re amazing and intrigue people,” Lavin says.

Next comes your team slide. “You’re trying to convince the investor that you’re the right person to tell this story and solve this problem,” Lavin says. You should also include any cofounders along with impressive investors or board members, if you have them. This is also the section of the presentation where you tell your story. “Talk about why and how you started the company. What was the eureka moment that made you go for it? Tell a human story,” Lavin says.

The next portion of your presentation should focus on the problem you’re solving. “It can’t be a generic, fluffy problem,” Lavin says. “It has to be a specific pain point felt by your end user. You also need to show the size of the problem, referred to by most people as ‘the market’.”

After the problem comes your solution. “Start with the top view, explaining in a very simplistic way how you’re addressing the problem,” Lavin says. “Then you drill down into a more sophisticated view of how you’re doing it. What are the steps that people take to use your product? How does the tech work? What is the business model and how are you going to make money off it?” End this section by showing “a specific business case,” Lavin says. “Talk about how much time it took you to get the customer on board, how they’re using the product, how much they’re paying, and what value they’re getting from it. And include a nice quote from them.”

Next, talk about your accomplishments to date “in terms of revenue, metrics, and products,” Lavin. “And talk about what comes next. What’s your pipeline? What do you expect to do in terms of business and tech in the next year or so? What metrics are you after, and what’s your five year business plan?

Finally, you get to your concluding section where you outline how much money you’re looking to raise and how you’ll use it. “And that’s the end of the presentation,” Lavin says. But you can also include a competitive table after that slide. “It’s best to put it at the end because at that point, people actually understand your product - explaining where you’re positioned versus your competitors will take two minutes. If you put it in earlier in the presentation, before people actually understand your product, it’ll take 10 minutes to explain.”

Have a real business plan to backup your story

Even the most compelling story doesn’t mean anything if it’s not based in reality. “Your story has to be backed up by a bulletproof business plan,” Lavin says. “It has to be bottom-up. You have to check it against the market size. I had an interesting case where a potential client came to me and said his business plan showed that within four years, he’d get to 11 billion users. That’s when I asked him if he knew how many people live on Earth.”

“You need to have a clear and easy to understand business hypothesis that’s based on  your historical metrics,” Lavin says. “Say one sales person is signing three clients per month, and each client so far has been a 15,000 Euro per year contract. Therefore, you know that if you add five more salespeople, they’ll ramp up toto X numbers within three months. And you build your business plan based on that.”

A sound business plan should also mean that “you know where to put the money in order to grow and you can explain that clearly to investors,” Lavin says. And when it comes to projected growth, “You have to balance ambition and reason. You cannot go from 10 people to 500 people in a year. The fastest I’ve seen that happening is three years,” Lavin says. “And you have to be very accurate in your assumptions for the first nine months because these are the months during and immediately after your fundraising roadshow. And one thing you cannot afford as a startup is to miss performance goals during and right after the roadshow. The deal will be dead.”

At the same time, you don’t to be so realistic that you fail to get investors excited about your startup. “I had once case where an entrepreneur didn't want to overpromise, so they told the investors that their growth would be flat for the next month,” Lavin says. “It almost killed the deal. You can’t be too cautious. You have to find balance.”

Practice on a friendly VC

When you’re setting up your initial presentation meetings with investors, make sure the first one is someone who’ll give you honest, helpful feedback. “You want someone who’ll tell it wasn’t good and why,” Lavin says. “They can point out parts they didn’t understand, tell you your concept is wrong, or if you’re missing a market. Most VCs won’t tell you that information—it’s too personal. They’ll smile, say thank you, and maybe they’ll tell you a week later that they’ve decided not to continue the discussion. Try to get an investor who you can have an open discussion with and get really honest feedback about the presentation itself, not just about the company,” Lavin says.

You also need to listen and watch for feedback during your roadshow. “If you see that investors don’t understand the way you’re pitching your company, explaining your revenue, or showing your metrics, and five investors in a row are asking the same question at the same point in your presentation, it means that you’re showing something that isn’t clear,” Lavin says. “Be open to making those changes to make your presentation better.”

Learn more about fundraising  as an early-stage startup.

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

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