*This post is part of our “pitch deck” series where we dissect the seed stage pitch deck and discuss the ideal flow for a pitch. You can read the rest of the posts in the series by clicking here*
So you’ve covered the “who”, “what”, “why”, & “when”. Now it’s time to discuss the “where”. As a seed-stage company, it is understandable to have a nascent (or non-existent) product and a barebone team relative to the great ambition of the company. As a result, investors usually need some help visualizing how you plan to get from point A to point B – this “roadmap” slide is where you can articulate your multi-year plan.
Once you get to this part of the pitch, investors are trying to get a few things out of this slide:
- The “people roadmap”
- The “product roadmap”
- Milestones – what do you plan to accomplish with #1 and #2
The “people roadmap”
People make companies happen, so the people side of the equation is extremely important. Projecting from the seed stage, there are two types of team-building topics you want to address – key senior hires and org-level team building.
Depending on the composition of the founding team, you might or might not have near-term holes in certain functions at the exec level – e.g. you’ll most likely need to bring on a CTO/VP of Engineering shortly after the seed round if you don’t have a technical co-founder. As the company progresses through product market fit (PMF), you will want to highlight other key senior hires required to scale and round out the functional expertise of the exec team.
The other aspect of the people roadmap is org-level team building necessary to unlock or accompany certain stages of the business. This is sometimes business-model dependent, e.g.:
- Product/Design/Engineering headcount – need to bring on a full-time PM and/or designer with X product milestones; rough estimates of engineering headcount by stage
- Enterprise SaaS/B2B software – account executives (AEs) and sales developement reps (SDRs)
- Businesses with a geo/city-based operations – city GMs/on-the-ground ops teams
- Operations/Logistics-heavy business – transition from 3PL to in-house fulfillment center/teams at X volume
The “product roadmap”
There are two things you want to get across regarding your product on this slide – key product features and how you think about sequencing. Instead of a laundry list of everything you want to build over the next 3-5 years, you should highlight the critical building blocks that would allow you to 1) dominate in the market you’re operating, and 2) differentiate yourself from competitors.
The decision around sequencing is equally (if not more) important, especially in the first 12-18 months of the business as you search for PMF and test out your initial go-to-market (GTM) strategy. With extremely limited resources and time, one wrong step could cost you 6-9 months of runway. Here investors are looking for thoughtfulness that would give you an advantage to quickly establish strong early traction.
Zooming out of the first 18 months, you want to articulate how you see the product evolving to achieve its long-term vision. It’s a much stronger pitch when you can credibly discuss the intermediate building blocks of how you plan to get from Point A (today) to Point B (the end state of your “secret” master plan). If the sequencing decision is tightly coupled with your GTM strategy, you want to make sure to address the thought process behind it as well.
You build teams to build products to get traction, so you want to use this slide to talk about the key milestones you envision to accomplish along the way. The point here is not to do a granular forecast of revenue or number of users/customers, but to put a stake in the ground so investors understand what you believe is achievable with X amount of resources given Y timeframe.
One thing to note about milestones – VC’s tend to think about milestones that create a step-function increase in value. Not that we are entirely focused on raising future equity rounds, but for a startup that requires additional venture financing, it’s helpful to hit milestones that allow the team and prior investors to get compensated for their risk and effort. Alternatively, you want to show credibly how that you can get to profitability and be in control of your own destiny.
Once you talk through the roadmap and milestones, it sets the stage for the final slide (and the reason you’re meeting with investors) – how much you’re raising and what you plan to accomplish with this round of financing.
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