7 Pitch Deck Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Avoid common pitch deck mistakes and fundraise successfully!

Pitch Deck Basics

A pitch deck is a slide-based presentation that provides a concise summary of the main aspects of your business. The audience for a pitch deck depends on your goals, and it may be your current or prospective customers, stakeholders, investors, employees etc. In this article, we will be focusing on the investor deck that is used in fundraising.

The main goal is to get people interested and enthusiastic about your idea. Your pitch deck opens the door for further conversation. Don't expect investments to pour in just as a result of your presentation.

When it comes to funding, most entrepreneurs have to rely on personal funds, friends, and family. Only 0.91% of US startups get angel investor support, and merely 0.05% manage to get their hands on venture capital. If you are looking for this type of outside funding, you need to prepare a compelling pitch deck. Avoiding seven common pitch deck mistakes is a great start!

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Pitch Deck Mistakes

There is a lot of theory and even more speculation when it comes to defining a perfect pitch deck. The harsh truth is that there is no perfect formula. The content and format of your presentation may need to be adjusted for your business, industry, and even the investors you are pursuing. However, there are some mistakes you should definitely try to avoid.

Mistake #1 - Too Much Information

too much information

How many slides do you think your presentation should have?

According to Guy Kawasaki, the gold number is 10: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. (This is known as his 10/20/30 rule.) Notice that this is a general rule for presentations. Fundraising pitch presentations usually last much less, typically 4-7 minutes. The Emerging Humanity pitch deck template has 12 slides.

By simply following this rule, you cut a lot of fluff out of your pitch deck and emphasize the most important facts. Remember, the goal at the end of this meeting is not to collect the checks but to get the green light to move forward.

Many entrepreneurs are tempted to include a lot of information about their industry, all the product specs, team member bios, etc. Unfortunately, this does not produce the desired effect.

A presentation longer than 10-15 slides may signal a few things to investors:

That said, you do need to have your facts and figures in order and be ready to answer questions. So, do your research and be prepared, but only include the key points on your slides. If you need to provide additional information, you can always follow up with a separate document or an email.

Notice that a pitch deck used for presenting needs to be a lot more concise than the one you would send out on its own. However, even a standalone deck needs a clear structure and key information that can be reviewed within minutes.

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Mistake #2 - Not the Right Information

What should you include in the pitch deck?

pitch deck elements

Based on our experience in helping startups pitch their ideas, these are the 12 slides that investors want to see:

  1. Title Slide and Mission
  2. Target Audience and Pain Points
  3. Solution and Value Proposition
  4. Underlying "Magic"
  5. Business Model and Monetization Strategy
  6. Market Size and Analysis
  7. Competitive Landscape
  8. Go-to-Market Strategy
  9. Market Traction
  10. Team/Advisors
  11. Cost Estimates and Financial Projections
  12. Capital Needed

Of course, there can be some variations in your deck, depending on different factors. One such factor is the stage of your startup. If you want to learn more about the exact information to include and how to adapt your deck based on your startup stage, check out Emerging Humanity's Pitch Deck Secrets course on Thinkific.

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Mistake #3 - Unclear Business Model

Investors invest to make money, so presenting your business model is crucial. If you don't explain how your business will make money, your pitch is destined to fail.

Some options to consider are:

Trying to cram in too many models can also be detrimental. It shows you are indecisive and may be casting a wide net to see what might work.

This information is usually missing in early-stage startup presentations. Don't be so in love with your solution and think that people are just waiting to throw money at you. Typically, investors want to see one primary business model that will produce returns, and some reasoning as to why you have chosen it.

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Mistake #4 - Overestimating Market Share

selling to market

Another mistake most common in entrepreneurs who are overly excited about their idea is overestimating their business potential.

Sure, there may be a huge market out there. But are the customers really just waiting for you to swoop in? Are competing products and services that insignificant?

When creating a pitch deck, do your market research. Be realistic in your estimates. Is your solution significantly better than what is already out there? Would 10% of customers instantly adopt your solution, or are they satisfied enough with something else? What tools and strategies will you use to acquire a portion of the target market?

Competition is a must-have slide in your pitch deck, along with market share and your go-to-market strategy.

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Mistake #5 - Not Demonstrating Ability to Execute

You have a fantastic idea and a sizeable market, but can you deliver? Convincing investors you are able to execute is critical. After all, many people may have the same idea.

To show that your business has potential, you need to demonstrate your team's competencies and any early traction you may have.

The team slide is particularly important for early-stage startups as their potential for success depends heavily on the people involved. Identify key team members and highlight relevant skills and experience they bring to the table. If you are also using reputable advisors, mention them in your team slide.

If you are already in the market, you need to demonstrate solid numbers and data. If you have conducted some preliminary research or launched a beta version of your product, make sure to include the results in your pitch.

These are some of the things you can include to demonstrate traction:

Failing to show that you have a strong team and that you can deliver on your promise can hinder your fundraising efforts. So make sure to include the right information and convince the decision-makers that your team is worth betting on.

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Mistake #6 - Not Stating Your Ask

Even though your pitch deck is an early step in the fundraising process, you should clearly outline what you are looking for. After all, you didn't just put together a presentation to impress people; your end goal is to raise money.

Let your audience know exactly how much money you will need, what they can expect in return, and how you plan to use the funds. Including a timeline is also vital when making your ask. Early-stage startups generally need to present shorter timelines in order to de-risk the investment.

investment ask

Being clear about your goals and projections will show that you are focused and in control.

It is good to leave the investors wanting to learn more, but don't leave them in confusion about what you need from them.

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Mistake #7 - Not Including Contact Information

Whether you are delivering your presentation in person or sending the pitch via email, it needs to have your contact information. Your audience may be excited about your business and eager to discuss more. But you won't know it if they are unable to reach you for further conversation.

It seems like a no-brainer, yet it can be overlooked especially after all the hard work you have done to put together your pitch deck.

It is best to give your current contact information such as phone number, email, and mailing address right after delivering your ask.

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Getting your startup funded is a major milestone in your entrepreneurial journey. If you are going after angel investors or venture capital, you need a strong pitch deck. Getting people on board with your vision, confident in your team's abilities, and excited about the company's potential is no easy task. On top of that, there are many misconceptions and pitfalls that can derail your efforts.

We hope that pinpointing common pitch deck mistakes and providing workarounds to avoid them has helped get you closer to your entrepreneurial dream.

If you would like to learn more about pitch decks and get a template to get you started, check out Emerging Humanity's Pitch Deck Secrets course!

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