*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*
Hopefully by this point in your deck, you have grabbed the investor’s attention based on your team, a crisp articulation of what you do, and some impressive proof points that things are working. The rest of the meeting is to add layers of depth to your story and to build more and more confidence and enthusiasm about your company.
The next slide we recommend after the traction slides answer the questions of “why does it matter?”. This is an opportunity to add the additional layers of market context that you held off on in slide 2. One could go into a deep rathole here talking about industry trends, but in general, we think there are three topics one could cover in these slides:
- Is this (or will this) be really big?
- Why now?
- Why is this strategic?
Briefly on each topic:
- Venture investors need to be convinced that a business has the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of gross profit, which usually means an addressable market worth billions of dollars. For companies that are going after an existing market, there should be data available to demonstrate the scale of the opportunity. Try to be intellectually honest about what the true addressable market is, vs. using something broad and meaningless like “The total online advertising market” or “The total ecommerce market”. Usually, startups tend to start with a more narrow wedge that they dominate, and then move into the broader industry over time. Illustrating this visually can be helpful.
- Many startups however, are going after markets that don’t really exist, or are small but growing. In this case, you want to emphasize the pace at which a market is growing, or the underlying shifts that are occurring that may make this opportunity huge down the road. This ties into the second topic around “why now?”. The reality is that every startup idea is pre-dated by dozens if not hundreds of other, very credible founders that came before you and were unable to capitalize. The question is what is different about the market today that makes this the right time to go after this opportunity, not 5 years ago and not 5 years from now. Secondarily, how do your business tactics (especially your go to market) match some of the unique elements of the market today? No matter how great your team, product, or execution, there is a huge benefit to having the wind at your back.
- The final element of “why does this matter” has to do with the strategic nature of the business. There are a number of companies out there that have grown to substantial revenue, but ended up failing to create robust, valuable long term assets. We don’t recommend having an actual slide about this, but you want to incorporate this into the slides or in your verbal discussion around the business. Again, we think there are two underlying questions here. One is why a big company would pay a LOT of money to buy your company someday? The second is why your company will be very hard for anyone to compete against, because of some accumulating advantages that will be built over time.
Now that you have hopefully deepened the investor’s excitement about why your company could be a huge success, you can shift to convincing them that you are destined to be the one who will win. You’ll want to talk about how you can be the best in the space next.
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