By Emmanuel Otori
There are a number of reasons a business needs investments, these investments could be in the pre-seed, Series A or B and regardless of whatever stage the business is operating, the major reason for seeking investor’s funding is usually for expansion purposes. This expansion could be in the line of products or the need to serve more customers in their growing numbers due to exponential demands in other regions.
Storytelling has been found to be an underlying magic when pitching to investors and while I suggest that the stories should be genuine and linked to why a business eventually took off because the founder was trying to solve a challenge, it also has to be told with clarity and does not negate the fact that Primary Market Research (PMR) should have been done to ascertain that there is a good number of prospective customers that are in need of such solutions, to justify not just based on assumption that it is needed by one person, then there might be a market.
Supporting Start-up Founders With Their Pitch Deck
I had the opportunity to mentor 10 Nigerian start-ups to be attending GITEX in Dubai where they would have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors. I worked alongside with the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to help structure their pitch decks to meet up to the acceptable standards
The Pitch Structure
The pitch deck structure while different in the pieces put together as template by different organizations, still has the most essential ingredients in similarity to answer the questions in the minds of investors
These items in a pitch deck should be on each slide
The cover page is a basic design that captures what the organization does. Usually the logo of the organization and the byline which serves as their value proposition to clients. The cover page should be very simple in design and text.
The introduction slide focuses on what introduced the problems and solution; It is the executive summary of what is to be expressed in the rest of the pitch desk. All the parts in a pitch deck should follow a simple rule “less is more”. The Pitch deck should have very limited words and portrays clarity.
State the problems in very few sentences to capture what represents the current state of affairs as the challenges is concerned, bullet-points can also be used. Stating between 1-3 problems would serve this purpose.
The solution slides need to state the functions of your product or service as it addresses the problems you have stated. Try not to get into mentioning features as what is important here is how your product will benefit customers.
If you are making a physical presentation, your product demo should be in a video of 30 seconds or less about how your product or service functions to provide the solution. If you do not have a video, then a pictorial view of images can also be used to represent this.
There are two approaches which are the top down or bottom up approaches. The top down approach is to find out the size of the market and how much of that size you think you can capture. I think the top down helps to be more realistic as what you hope to capture can either be expressed in years or in the lifetime of the business.
What would your business model be? Are your products going to sell for a particular price, would it be one that customers have to subscribe weekly, monthly or daily? This is what your business model represents. Some social media platform runs on a fermium model where users do not pay to use such platforms; however the platform then makes money from advertisers wanting to gain visibility from these number of users for their products or services.
List your competitors whether they are direct or indirect and mention how you are better than them. For example, the indirect competitor for carbonated drink is water and most bottling companies have succeeded in making their products a unique alternative to water by serving a refreshing taste. Mention here where makes you stand out.
When you launch a new product, it is necessary that a market plan exists; it helps to answer the question of how you would acquire customers. What steps are you going to take for customers to engage you? Would you have direct markets, use radio or television, social media, sponsored adverts, print etc to reach out to your targets.
Your team information should display competence. Most start-ups have the product developer and the marketing officer. This can be seen in the likes of companies like Apple where Steve Jobs is the Chief Marketing Officer with communication prowess and ability to get customers to buy while Steve Wozniack was the developer. 2-3 team members can be the founder or co-founder and launch the start-up and add other team members as the organization grows.
Investors only want to make a contribution because they look forward to returns on their investment (RoI), no investor is your friend. Here is the section to show you already have traction in the form of partnerships, number of downloads and most importantly that you generate consistent cash flow and serving a good number of customers
How much funding would you need and in what ways are you going to apply the funding you get and what this funding injection would generate within a specific time-frame. These are question you want to answer in this slide. Funding is usually needed for operational costs such as rent, staff salaries, and acquisition of office equipment, licenses or certifications and many more depending on the needs at the moment.
While receiving funding for your business is a great move, it can also lead to the death of start-ups as initial exposure to huge funding without experience or ability to have managed such funding could lead to instant gratification and reason why some start-ups have raised funding but are not profitable.
I suggest that a business proves through their financial statement to be profitable enough before seeking for funding in order to grow a sustainable business model.
Emmanuel Otori has over 9 years of experience working with 100 start-ups and SMEs across Nigeria. He has worked on the Growth and Employment (GEM) Project of the World Bank, Consulted for businesses at the Abuja Enterprise Agency, Novustack, Splitspot and NITDA. He is the Chief Executive Officer at Abuja Data School.
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