The Catapult team has seen many thousands of pitch decks between us. Most go in the actual or virtual bin.
Why? Common mistakes or missing information.
Providing feedback on pitch decks is a toughie – we have to call your baby ugly, most of the time – which isn’t always the best way to start a relationship. Plus, doing a slide-by-slide commentary, then listing out all the things that aren’t there at all, can lead to thousands of words of feedback.
That’s why we’ve developed our own structured approach to review investor materials and providing feedback to founders.
This has two big advantages to unstructured and anecdotal feedback. Firstly, it acts as a checklist or table of contents for what should be in a good deck.
Secondly, it quantifies our feedback in a scoring system that’s easy to understand.
We all know that quantitative metrics are way easier, and faster, to comprehend than qualitative analyses. We do both, but we use the score (good or bad) to frame the analysis.
Is it clear, preferably almost immediately, why this business exists and what compelled the founders to start it?
Your origin story matters. Your value proposition needs to be clear and succinct. An “Airbnb for Cars” type analogy can help.
It’s essential that you can describe the problem space in a simple, understandable way. The "would your Gran understand" test.
How clear and obvious is it that there’s a real issue the company is aiming it?
How obvious is it that there’s a clearly defined market, at meaningful scale, with a focused initial target segment?
Use TAM, SAM and SOM or an equivalent. Use third party market stats and analyst detail for validation.
Does the deck now explain how the company’s solution solves the problem, is compelling to its target market and meets the timeliness (“why now?”) test?
If the investor can’t immediately see problem – opportunity – solution, they won’t read on. If they do, you’re not done yet.
Item 5: Competitive Positioning
Is it obvious that the types of competitor (direct and indirect) are understood, how the company is positioned against them, and how they are different/better than the other options?
After all, if you don’t know how you’re going to stand out from the crowd, why should anybody invest?
Is it clear who pays for what, how revenues flow, paying clients versus free/freemium users, etc?
Is it obvious how the company will make money and build scale? Is a pricing strategy evident?
How well have you described how the product works and meets its solution requirements?
Use diagrams, screenshots, callouts, explanations, process flows or appropriate means of bringing the product to life. Note that this isn’t the same as the solution section.
Is it clear that the company has made progress to date and has a plan for the next few years?
This depends on the maturity of the business. Demonstrate early stage market validation, initial product/market fit, sales traction, customer wins, users onboarded, or whatever. Timeline preferred.
Is their evidence of a GTM plan that’s going to deliver results to hit forecast?
Is the brand, marketing, sales and product strategy clear? Are their buyer personas for target customers? Are you making market or taking market? Is there a campaign plan? Do historical actuals map to future performance and expectation?
Item 10: Your Team
Who is in the founding team, what board and advisors are in place, do they seem relevant and credible, does their track-record inspire confidence?
Most importantly, tell the story of why you’re the team to back.
With charts/graphs, have you summarised the five year plan for the business?
In the detail, does historical traction and GTM plan give confidence the figures are achievable? Is cashflow well-defined and realistic? Are assumptions sensible?
Is it clear why you are raising and how much you’re raising?
Is the valuation clear and sensible? Is there a breakdown on how you will spend the money that makes sense in terms of “will this money help them achieve their goals”?
The order can vary a bit but having all this here is important. Investors like to see the same stuff in the decks they review. It’s essential for benchmarking.
Don’t make them do unnecessary work to understand you.
Have a go yourself. Rate each one out of 10 and see how you get on. In the decks we review, there are usually 3 to 5 of the above 12 missing entirely. Another 3 to 5 are completely inadequate.
We try to do two FOC pitch deck reviews per month. If you’d like us to have a look, say so in the responses and we’ll DM.
12 more blogs – one for each topic – will follow in the coming weeks.
If you'd like to discuss in more detail, we'd love to have a conversation about the challenges you're facing and how we can help.
May 31, 2022
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