Your Top 12 Questions On Pitch Decks Answered

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Pitch decks, (brief presentations of your business plan mainly used for investment purposes) raise lots of questions from new and existing entrepreneurs and although there is no “one size fits all” answer, there are common themes that can help you stand out when it comes to getting your business in front of investors (and some common pitfalls to avoid).

Ross Faith, EHE Capital’s Chief Financial Officer, supports our entrepreneurs to develop impactful pitch decks that get results (hear our full conversation on our podcast, Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Together part one and part two) and also reviews all submitted pitch decks as part of our wider investment work.

In last week’s blog, we talked about how to make your pitch deck stand out to investors, and the importance of using powerful stories to generate interest. 


In today’s blog Ross and I share answers to some questions we’ve had from our EHE community.


  • What are the weakest areas in most submitted pitch decks?

Many pitch decks fall short because they don’t mention their team or demonstrate any plans to support business expansion. Investors need to see that your business has the capability to grow; without a team behind you it’s harder to obtain investor funding.


  • What advice would you give someone who has clear gaps in their current team structure?

Show that you have a clear idea about the roles you need to create and who you want to hire. Ideally you’ll already have spoken to the individuals (and have an agreement in principle so that those people are ready to join your business as soon as a salary is available.


  • What do investors look for in a team?

When you’re recruiting, choose a broad mix of personalities, experience and expertise. I’ve seen amazing pitch decks but if the whole team has a corporate background they’re missing a stronger entrepreneurial presence where people are often more open to risk taking (which can help grow your business). 


Investors want to see (or know that you will build) a strong and healthy team with diverse opinions and experience that can accelerate and support your growth.


It’s critical that you create a team where members will challenge each other’s thinking rather than agree with every suggestion put forward. Your business will benefit from team members who are willing to explore new possibilities and solutions; having a mix of entrepreneurs and people with a corporate background demonstrates a strong foundation.


Ross: “When a tech entrepreneur has a solid business plan but has recruited only like-minded people, an investor will want to know who will challenge the status quo. They want to see independent thinkers where somebody is bold enough to ask the question nobody wants to ask. You’re not necessarily looking for a disrupter, but you do need to have people who will help make sound decisions.”

  • What skills does an investor want to see?


Ross: “Whatever the proposition, you need to have a mix of people who are good at selling, tech or finance. An investor wants to know that their money is being well used and is protected. They need to see that their cash flow will be well managed and that your business has the capability to grow.”


There might be times when an investor will want to speak directly to your team members. If you haven’t already employed them, it’s wise to prime them for this possibility and ensure that they are fully engaged; this goes a long way to reassuring investors that you’re a good candidate for investment.


  • What sparks the most intrigue within a pitch deck, the idea, the opportunity or a story?


Ross: “Whilst I love numbers, and I love looking at the opportunity and the model. I love actually being encapsulated by the ideas the entrepreneur is presenting. If I can understand them quickly without lots of waffle, that sparks my interest. If a story helps excite me I want to find ways to get over any hurdles and support that entrepreneur.”


  • What is the common theme between the pitch decks that prompt excitement versus those that don’t get a second look?


It’s hard to get excited about a pitch deck that has too many words or too many slides that are hard to follow. A brain dump is not helpful. Investors want to feel your enthusiasm and want you to get to the point quickly. If I can understand the story within the first few slides then I get hooked.


Think in advance about the type of investor you are pitching to and adapt your presentation where appropriate so that you excite that person. My expertise is in the tech industry, EHE co-founder Gary Fletcher has a background in leisure, and Ross Faith is currently in retail and has experience in multiple sectors.


We each get even more enthusiastic about opportunities in our sectors because we are passionate about them and how they work.


  • Should I always “tailor” my pitch deck to the investor?

A well tailored pitch deck shows that you’ve done your research and if you’ve done it well it’s more likely to appeal to the investor. If you don’t tailor your pitch it’s unlikely to lose you the opportunity, but it’s nice to make that connection.


  • What else would be beneficial for an investor to see?

It can be really useful to use diagrams, graphs and images to add interest to a presentation and help you tell your story. It quickly paints an overall picture. Including additional information (an appendix) is a nice way to signpost an investor to finer detail without causing overwhelm in the main pitch deck. 


Ross: “A graph can be powerful. If you have a chart with a y axis and an x axis that shows where you are and where you want to be, that can share a lot better than words or a table.”


  • What level of business model and projections data is important for early stage startups when putting together a pitch deck?


Ross: “Don’t go into too much detail because business models evolve. They need to show an understanding of what the key drivers are. The one document that’s key in every business model is cash flow. How well are you managing cash?  Keep it simple; it doesn’t need to be complicated at this stage.”


  • What should be avoided in a pitch deck?

Avoid too many words or overenthusiastic projections without supporting evidence. Less is more; keep it concise, to the point and remember that this is an overview of your business plan. If you’re successful at this stage you will have further opportunities to showcase your ideas. 


  • What’s the ideal number of slides in a pitch deck?

Ross: “It comes down to making sure you get your message across in a succinct and simple way. Whatever the subject matter is, keep each section to one page: tell me about the financials on one page, marketing one one page and so on. Tell me the story and then move to the next part.”


I would suggest using between 10 and 30 slides. You can add detail in an appendix so if you meet an investor who wants to do more research they can easily access it.


  • How soon should I follow up after a pitch deck?


Ross: “Over eagerness can be seen as a weakness. Give the investor time to look through the information you emailed to them. If you’ve delivered a good pitch deck, an investor will come back to you quickly because they will want to talk to you before anyone else makes that contact.”


My rule of thumb is to wait a week; send a polite email asking the investor to confirm they received your previous message and offer to supply any additional information. These are polite and effective nudges.


In a nutshell


Your pitch deck has to be able to tell a story. 

  • What is the problem? 
  • Why are you trying to solve this problem?
  • Who is in your team?
  • Include the headline financials and get the investor interested and excited in what you do and hopefully they will want to meet you again and you can add all the flavour and build in the detail that entices them to buy in.


Taking the time to plan and fine-tune your pitch deck will help you feel more confident when it comes to presenting. EHE Capital has created a supportive online community where you can share resources and best practice with each other. In the coming months, we’ll be sharing practical guides to help you secure the investments you need in order to accelerate – join us!


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