Landing a key customer or VC funding can make or break your business. So how do you stand up there with confidence and convince them to come on board? We talked to SlideGenius founder Rick Enrico to find out what he’s learned about putting together the ultimate pitch presentation.
On September 30, 2016, SlideGenius CEO and Founder, Rick Enrico joined us for a Founders webinar to talk about how to present your business to win big customers or investors in 15 minutes or less. His insights were…. well, genius. Here are some of the key points we learned.
- Keep your presentation to 15 minutes or less
Your presentation has to be tight, tight, tight. Venture capitalists are not the type of folks who have time to kill. They move fast. If you can’t boil your pitch down to 15 minutes or less, chances are you will lose their attention quickly.
Through trial and error – a lot of trial and error – Rick developed a proven, tested methodology for what works in pitches. All you need are 12-15 core slides to tell your story effectively. In a nutshell, here’s an outline for a presentation:
- Title slide: Company name and logo, presenter name and job title, and a quality graphic.
- Your 30-second elevator pitch: What your business is, what your mission is, and a strong and definite goal.
- The problem or opportunity: What is it, how big is it, and how much is it costing customers? Is it something that’s nice to have or a game changer (hint: you want a game changer)
- The solution: Don’t get into the weeds, but simply explain your solution to the problem and how it will change your customers’ lives.
- The product: Explain your product in more detail and how it can solve the problem.
- Results so far: How far have you gotten? How many customers have signed up? How much are customers saving or making thanks to your solution? What is your growth rate?
- Business model: High-level overview of customer purchase process, distribution, revenue sources, and product options, tiers or details.
- Revenue: Breakdown where your revenue is coming from (or will come from), margins, and customer lifetime value.
- Market strategy: How are you going to get your product to customers?
- Market research: How big is the opportunity? What’s the risk?
- Competition: Analyze direct and indirect competition. There’s always competition.
- Traction and milestones: How far have you gotten? Who are the members of the team to take your product to the next level?
- Financials: Realistic 5-year projections.
- Funding: How much money are you seeking, what are you going to do with it, and how long will it last?
- Summary: Tell them what you just told them with 3-5 key points you want them to leave with.
- Thank you: Repeat the title slide with a “Thank You” and contact information.
It seems like a lot, but remember this is a presentation that should not run longer than 10-15 minutes. Keep text on the slides to a minimum – typically five bullet points or less. And use simple, but high-quality graphics and images.
- “Design is everything”
One of Rick’s mantra’s is “design is everything.”
More than 80% of your pitch is done visually, he said. Visuals maximize your storytelling. The only thing that shouldn’t have visuals is legal contracts!
Surely you need a snappy looking presentation that is light on words and high on visuals (you don’t want people trying to read while you’re talking). But it all starts with your logo and color pallet.
It’s significant because it’s subconscious, Rick said. In fact, he relayed the story of how leads for SlideGenius shot up 30% when they changed their colors to Ferrari red and white from teal and green on the website.
You don’t have to hire a high-priced consultant to do this. He chose the colors based on the colors of his alma mater – the University of Wisconsin. Test colors with your friends and family to see which ones pop.
- How to get a second meeting
Your pitch deck is just the beginning. The goal is get a big customer or VC interested in your product. But obviously people don’t make million-dollar decisions based on a few bullet points and your polished presentation style.
Leave behind a reinforcement deck with more details. This is the one that is meant to be read and studied. You can print it out or email it. It should stand alone without your voiceover.
So invest in two decks: Your pitch deck, which is light on words and heavy on great visuals; and a reinforcement deck, which will fill in more details and answer questions.
- Rinse repeat. Rinse repeat again.
Rick emphasized that his failure to land venture funding – many times – is what drove him to get really good at presentations. Eventually, even when VCs weren’t willing to fund his product, they complemented his pitches (that’s how SlideGenius was born).
The point is, it’s okay if you’re on version 57 of your pitch deck. By then it will be a tightly honed tool for communicating your company’s value proposition.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more
You have to rehearse your pitch continually and practice all the time. Pitch to your spouse or significant other, your kids, the family dog – whatever it takes! Know your pitch so well that you could do it your sleep.
- “Keep going down the corridor and the right door will open up”
Rick learned from experience that you just never give up. You may have to pivot. You may even have to give up on one company and start another one, but “keep going down the corridor and the right door will open up.” Entrepreneurialism, or successfully running any company, is a marathon filled with many sprints. You need the strength of persistence to keep fueling you forward.
For entrepreneurs looking to land a big customer or get funding, there’s nothing more important than a great pitch deck. Founders is thankful to Rick Enrico for sharing his insights with us. To learn more about SlideGenius and presentation design, visit the website.