Nick is a Partner at AI Seed, an early stage fund that invests in highly talented AI first companies. Nick is an entrepreneur turned investor with experience in his startup Dibbz and the London Co-Investment Fund.
As one of the Partners of AI Seed and previously Investment Manager for the London Co-Investment Fund, I’ve seen a lot of investment decks. I’ve seen decks that make me schedule a meeting a few slides in, decks where I’ve had to wade through 10+ slides before I understand what the business is hoping to do, and decks that I’ve had to abandon once I saw the slide total - the record is 76 so far. Here I’ve shared my 12 top tips for creating a slide deck that stands out from the crowd - in a good way.
- The power of the team
This is the first slide most investors turn to. Whatever business you are building, the team is the most important factor, as investors are investing in the success of the founding team. Make sure you show off your team - and provide LinkedIn links to save us the hassle of stalking you online!
- Identify your beachhead customer
If your product/service is not yet in the wild, then identifying your first customer early on the deck is vitally important. This helps frame the rest of the deck.
- Understand your market
We’ve seen all those big circles in decks showing an insanely high number regarding total market size, but you need to ensure that the number you chose for market size is obtainable and appropriate for what the business is trying to achieve. Investors love ambition as long as it has a bit of data to back it up.
- Nail the go-to-market
Investors don’t believe in the “if you build it they will come” approach. Once you’ve established your market and beachhead customer then showing how you will get it into their hands is vital to promote confidence for the investor.
- Show how it works
Many decks talk about the product/service almost as a side note. Showing investors what the product does through an online demo or video can help the investor understand the business a lot quicker than over a series of slides.
- Traction and Technology
If your startup is technology-based, then for your early rounds you should be able to get away with showing off the strength of your tech to raise investment. After this (and if you’re not a tech startup) then traction is key to having the investor believe that the business is scalable. Investors can be sheep-like, so the more well-known a brand is that you can show you’ve worked with, the better!
- How does it make money?
Investors don’t expect the first business model you come up with to be the one you take through to IPO. That being said, having a well thought out and profitable business model is important to show the business can succeed.
- Financials are boring, but cash is king
When you first send a deck to investors, if you have historic financials then do share them, but most investors would rather not see projected revenues until later down the process. Showing that the amount you are raising is enough to last you at least 18 months is important to show the business has enough time to hit milestones before running out of cash.
- Achievable milestones
Make sure you highlight the milestones you plan to achieve with the investment you are raising. Investors want to know what their money is going towards and to see targets hit for the next round of investment.
- Show how you beat the competition
A lot of startups are hesitant to put in a competition slide as they feel it could put off an investor by showing there are other companies in your space. But an investor will research to find these companies themselves anyway; the competition slide should be used as a platform to show that your startup is the one to back by highlighting how you are better than the competition.
- Keep it snappy
Ensure the deck isn’t a chore to read. An introduction deck should be between 12-15 slides, anything above 25 slides has a chance of not even being opened by investors. If your deck is predominantly text, then find a way to cut down the waffle and add in visual aids.
- The importance of the final slide
Make sure you put in details of your fundraise and how to contact you in the last slide. Often decks are shared beyond who you send them to directly, so you can’t guarantee that the investor will be able to reach out without your details here.