Let’s start with the most common problems?
- Too much focus on the product - to be honest I don’t really care about your current product (it’s going to change and evolve), what I really care about is your solution to a clearly defined problem, that really exists.
- Not enough focus on the problem - always start with the problem. Make it clear and as simple as you can, backed up by some statistics if possible.
- Confusing product with solution - The solution is an approach to solving a problem, whereas the product is one way of building a solution. Typically each subsequent product improves the solution e.g. iPhone 1 vs iPhone 15… it’s still ultimately the same solution, just a better product.
- Lack of validation - not enough startups talk to enough customers, and base validation on people they already know.
- Poor understanding of market and potential - do you really know the market and who all the players are? Competition can be a good thing if you understand where you fit within the landscape.
- Multiple customer types, products and revenue streams - the best deck has one problem, one solution, one product, one revenue stream etc… Having too many of each either means you don’t have a single strong one or you don’t really know what you are building!
- Not spelling out the ask - tell me how much you need, and what you are going to be using it for, at what valuation.
- Double-talk - get rid of jargon. Don’t use a complex word when an easy one will do. Try not to use industry speak, too many acronyms or general fluff to make what you do sound more impressive.
How many slides are in the ideal Seed deck?
The answer is 12
DocSend produces fascinating insights every month on what founders are sending to investors. Even better, they can identify the ideal slides that are most successful in securing investment.
We have utilised these statistics, but adjusted the order to align with what currently works best in the UK and for SEED raises.
1. Holding Slide
Quite often when you intent to present your investment deck, you may never get past the first slide! This holding slide should therefore have something impressive on it that you can talk around and refer back to. Therefore your Company Purpose , Mission Statement or Vision should be the largest text on this page below your logo.
Also include your name, version of the deck and relevant legal terms in the footer.
Make the the problem a statement that can grab someone.
It should be easy to understand and ideally something you can resonate with.
The problem should also help describe who your customer is that is experiencing this problem.
This is your approach to solving the problem at 30,000 feet.
It is not about your product on this page. Instead it’s about your approach to the solution.
One of the most important things Seed investors care about is the founding team.
The team is more important than the product, as everyone knows the product will change whereas the founding team, and even the solution will not.
This is the where you can show what the product actually looks like. However, it’s still very top level.
Most investors just want to know it’s there and it works. They won’t want a full product demo!
6. Business Model
How are you going to make money as a business.
Ideally it’s very simple and covers both current and future revenue streams the business can generate.
7. Current Traction
Insert some simple and believable stats on this slide. Don’t insert fake metrics or awards which carry little traction.
If you are pre-revenue then say it and instead insert other information around customer feedback and usage.
If you don’t have any real traction leave this slide out.
8. Market Opportunity
How big is the market opportunity. Ideally you will be able to outline the Total Addressable Market (TAM), then the obtainable part of the market that you can realistically service (SOM).
Backing this slide up with industry stats and the key audiences you are going after will add credibility.
Who are your competitors and what makes you different?
This is the goldilocks zone, you need some competitors to help validate the market, but not too many to make to seem off-putting.
Don’t miss out anyone on purpose, investors will always spot it and ask the question.
10. Why Now?
This is the FOMO slide - Fear Of Missing Out. Can you create a slide which identifies why this is the perfect time to both build and invest in such a business.
You want to create that FOMO feeling that compels an investor to get involved.
OK we have cheated a bit here and included two slides.
One should be focused on the projected revenues and P&L. If you have been trading for a while you should include some historical trading.
The other slide highlights what you will spend the money on from a marketing, tech, people perspective.
These two slides can be merged if your startup is in a much earlier stage.
12. The Ask
Be clear, state how much money you are raising and if there are any tax incentives applicable (e.g. S/EIS).
Show at a top level what you are doing with the investment and finish with a summary.
You don’t need to put the actual valuation but what helps to share is the percentage of equity you are offering for the investment.
Finish with a simple slide with your contact details.
You could always put a customer quote or something positive, yet simple, on this slide.
Don’t go crazy with the appendix. Make sure it’s meaningful.
Also remember when you share via something like DocSend, checkout if people are looking at these slides.
If your appendix slides are getting more views or time being spent on, then consider moving them into the main deck.
This approach allows you to optimise your investment deck as you progress through the round.
- Less text - don’t write too much. An ideal deck is meant to be presented!
- Make it look good! Seriously, spend some time on making it look nice. If you can’t do it, find someone who can. Alternatively use something like Beautiful.ai
- Don’t send - If asked, politely refuse to send the deck and ask for a meeting instead!
- Push to present - even if it’s just for 15min, presenting in person or via Zoom will allow you to convey more information and read the investors reaction.
- Don’t send - seriously, try not to do it! Seed investment is all about believing in the founder, not their deck, therefore you need to speak directly to investors.
- Don’t send PDF - if you have no choice, you just have to send, don’t send as an attachment like a PDF. You loose control, you get no insight and your deck may end up in the hand of a competitor. Instead you have two options to consider.
- Record yourself - tools such as Loon and Descript allow you to record you delivering the presentation. The investor gets to see both the deck and a small window with you actually presenting.
- Use a cloud presentation - tools such as DocSend allow you to upload your presentation online and provide the investors with a link to access. You can password protect the link and you get insight on if they actually view it, how long they view it for and what slides they spend most of their time on.