How Storytelling can Support Your Pitch To Investors
How well do you know how to pitch to investors? There are several reasons why a business needs investments. These investments could be in the pre-seed, Series A or B. Regardless of whatever stage the business is operating, the major reason for seeking investors’ funding is usually for expansion purposes. This expansion could be in the line of products or the need to serve more customers. The latter will depend on their growing numbers due to exponential demands in other regions.
Storytelling is an underlying magic when pitching to investors. I suggest that the stories should be genuine and linked to why a business was established. This is necessary as it shows that the founder was trying to solve a challenge.
You must tell the story with clarity and not negate the Primary Market Research (PMR). This research helps to ascertain that there is a good number of prospective customers that need the solutions the business offers.
Supporting Start-up Founders With Their Pitch Deck
I had the opportunity to mentor 10 Nigerian start-ups to attend GITEX in Dubai. Here, they would have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors. I worked alongside the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to help structure their pitch decks to meet acceptable standards.
Using The Pitch Deck Structure to Pitch to Investors
One of the proven ways to pitch to investors is using the pitch deck structure. The pitch deck structure is in different pieces and it is used as a template by different organizations. Regardless, it still has the most essential ingredients in similarity to answer the questions in the minds of investors. The items below should be on each slide in a pitch deck:
The cover page is a basic design that captures what the organization does. Usually the logo of the organization and the byline which serve 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 solutions. It is the executive summary of what is to be expressed in the rest of the pitch deck. All the parts in a pitch deck should follow a simple rule “less is more”. The Pitch deck should have very limited words and portray clarity.
State the problems in very few sentences to capture what represents the current state of affairs as your challenges. We suggest that you make use of bullet points for easier understanding. Stating between 1-3 problems would serve this purpose.
The solution slides should state the functions of your product or service as it addresses the problems you want to solve. Try not to mention 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. It should show how your product or service functions to provide the solution. If you do not have a video, then you can use a pictorial view of images to represent this.
There are two approaches, top-down and bottom-up approaches. The top-down approach reveals the size of the market and how much of it you think you can capture. It is more realistic as you can express what you hope to capture in years or the business’ lifetime.
What would your business model be? Are your products going to sell for a particular price? Would customers have to subscribe weekly, monthly, or daily? The answers to these questions are what your business model represents. Some social media platforms run 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 other users for their products or services.
List your competitors whether they are direct or indirect and mention competitive advantage. For example, the indirect competitor for a carbonated drink is water. 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, a market plan must exist. 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 use direct markets, 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 a product developer and a marketing officer. An example is Apple where Steve Jobs is the Chief Marketing Officer with communication prowess and the ability to convince customers. On the other hand, Steve Wozniack was the developer. Two to three team members can be the founder or co-founder and launch the start-up. Afterward, they can add other team members as the organization grows.
Investors only want to contribute because they look forward to returns on their investment (RoI). You must understand that no investor is your friend. This section shows that you already have traction in the form of partnerships and the number of downloads. Most importantly, it shows that you generate consistent cash flow and serve a good number of customers.
How much funding would you need and in what ways are you going to apply the funding you get? What will this funding injection generate within a specific timeframe? These are questions you want to answer in this slide. Funding is needed for operational costs such as rent, staff salaries, and acquisition of office equipment. It is also used for licenses and certifications and many more depending on the needs at the moment.
Great job, you have just learned how to pitch to investors. While receiving funding for your business is a great move, it can also lead to the death of start-ups. This is because initial exposure to huge funding without experience or the ability to manage such funds can lead to instant gratification. It is because of this that some start-ups have raised funding but are not profitable.
Businesses must prove to be profitable through their financial statements before seeking for funding 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.