Let me be up front, I am not a key member of the audience, when an entrepreneur/founder is pitching to a VC or PE fund. However, I have been honoured enough to be invited to sit in on a few of these, so I thought it might be helpful to someone, if I shared some thoughts on what seems to work.
Pitch deck coverage and order
- Detail the key customer problem and how it is solved cost effectively
- Explain the business opportunity including the likely market size and possible growth opportunity
- The competitive landscape including likely competitors and the differentiation from them
- The go-to-market strategy including details, timescales and costs of setting up and operating the sales process
- The current status of the business including updates on the business model, product/service development, early adopter customers and potential partners/resellers
- Information and experience of the key players, such as founders, the critical hires and advisors
- The most critical risks and challenges, showing that these have been thought about and plans exist to mitigate them should they materialise
- The financials including the costs and time to reach break even, all assumptions, together with the impact of various scenarios on a multi year forecast
- Exit options such as types and rationale of likely buyers (and names if known) and comparable businesses with valuation multiples
- Funding requirements including how much, when and what the funding will be used for
- Take time to prepare and be clear on key message(s).
- Try to arrange Q&A to your preferred timings but also be prepared if it happens unexpectedly.
- Prepare answers for 5 questions you really do not want to be asked.
- Take time to think before answering questions so that you give yourself a chance to marshal your thoughts, give the impression of being considered and thoughtful and ensure that the audience does not detect which questions are difficult.
- Bridge to key message(s) where appropriate.
- Do not over answer and lose your audience. Additionally, being brief will encourage dialogue.
- Use Q&A to reinforce the impression of team cohesion and don't cut across other members of the team but do support one another.
- Have a fact sheet with key message(s) and critical figures to refer to.
- Know the challenges of the market and the importance of building a strong, balanced team.
- Admit if you do not know the answer to a question but promise to get back with an answer.
- Finally, absolutely know your numbers and their assumptions.