A pitch deck is a presentation that helps potential investors learn more about your business. These slides of several presentations help you to tell a compelling story. What the company’s overview is, its vision and mission, team, problem, solution, market opportunity, product, customers, marketing and sales strategy. Our Innerview with Mr. Dilnawaz Khan highlighted his entrepreneurial journey, and during his learning and evolution how he mastered Pitch Decks. Innerview is our weekly live 45-minute motivational and inspirational talk show which features interviews of industry experts who bring forth informative and life experiences and techniques to help shape and gear you up, to succeed.
You have to think of breaking out the problem into smaller parts and that is an art. The problem is - a lot of first-time entrepreneurs get discouraged when we tell them this - you do not go and solve what will happen on the thousandth day, you start from day zero and slowly build on top of it.
Mr. Dilnawaz Khan is the founder at Codesign Labs and Power Deck. With over 12 years of professional experience across the design, technology, and start-up incubation industry, he is also a Subject Matter Expert on Pitch Decks, Start-up Fundraising and Lean Start-ups. He acts as an Advisor at various academic institutions where he supports them with the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem focussing on student entrepreneurship and innovation.
In brief, the session had the following takeaways:
- Dos and don’ts for an investor pitch deck
- How to create and irresistible and compelling pitch deck for investors
- Structuring of an investment pitch, its importance
- What to cover and what to ignore
- Importance of the start-up pitch deck or slide deck
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
According to you, what should weigh more – the problem or the solution when we create that pitch?
Identifying a great problem is an art, creating a greater solution on top of it is a bigger art. Eventually the goal is to create a business. So, everything is of equal importance. May be five things I can say that an entrepreneur needs to look at – looking at a great problem, creating a world class solution, creating a desirable solution for a feasible or viable business, and last but not the least there has to be some sort of a long term vision to enable all of these and on top of it a great team to execute all of these. So, if you have a great idea, a great problem, a great solution but a bad team, you are in a bad state. But you have a mediocre idea and a mediocre solution but it is a rockstar team behind it, you will be definitely going to kill it.
Are there any errors that you have seen that people can be aware of?
I can point out what are the mistakes first time entrepreneurs commit. You have to think of breaking out the problem into smaller parts and that is an art. The problem is – a lot of first-time entrepreneurs get discouraged when we tell them this – you do not go and solve what will happen on the thousandth day, you start from day zero and slowly build on top of it. Again, regarding solving too many problems at a time, I met some interesting startup founders. A lot of them say that I am thinking of making a startup which is Zomato plus Paytm plus Book my Show and I have no competition at all. Of course, when you look at that particular thing, it will have zero competition. But individually if we look at them, there are vertical leaders to compete with. So, do not try and solve everything. Another big problem is that the motivation to do a startup until and unless they jump into the ecosystem is derived from external sources like funding stories, Pitchers, Silicon Valley and so on and so forth. Do not solve a mammoth problem on day one, start from a small problem and build on top of it. Create a better start of your journey when it comes to beginning the startup game.
As we say that the first impression is the lasting impression, would you like to share any thumb rule?
I think one thing that a lot of investors like is authenticity. There are a lot of things you do not have an answer for. Be authentic, just say ‘I don’t know’ and move on. Always make sure that your communication is crisp, clear, to-the-point. Thirdly, which overall again is a very cliche advice but again very very underestimated is to make sure that you leave a great impression. Make sure people see that you are invested, you have put in time, money and energy. And you have prepared well. So, your deck should be very nice, if not designed well, at least aesthetically nice. Your communication should be well. Your pitch should start on time, end on time. You should be very clear as to what you want to talk about. So, practice enough. As per the industry, you have to make at least a hundred pitches to get your first deal. Make sure that you are invested enough. If not, people will again catch hold of you and they will realise that you are faking and nobody likes fakers.
On an average, an analyst at a VC firm evaluates five thousand decks in a year, so it is very very important for you as an entrepreneur to figure out the right method and the right mechanism and make it customisable.
What do you suggest about connecting to investors for pitching? Which will be better – a live presentation or just mailing the slides?
When you are reaching out to investors, there are multiple methods. Incubators and accelerators are the lowest hanging fruits. If you get selected, the incubator will definitely host a demo day where you get access to investors. If you apply to an accelerator programme, similar things will happen. Another method is reaching out to investors via cold mail – which is hunting them on LinkedIn, reaching out to them, looking for their email IDs, writing to them. If you mean going in front of them and presenting, then every time you will not get that opportunity. So, if you are sending cold emails to investors then make them customised as if they are for that person. Do not spam investors, do not create one fits all, people like customisation. When you are reaching out in that sense, I think mailing slides is perfect – that is a very good method but make sure your slides are crisp, five to seven, maximum ten. Everybody has their own mechanism and it is very very important for you to identify what they like. On an average, an analyst at a VC firm evaluates five thousand decks in a year, so it is very very important for you as an entrepreneur to figure out the right method and the right mechanism and make it customisable.
I sent mails to a lot of incubation centres and investors but there is no response for the mail from them. What do you suggest for contacting better?
Out of every hundred mails, you will just get a response from two people. That is the conversion of cold emailing and we have to admit it. If you have not heard for first time, you have to send a second email, then third and fourth. Your chances of conversion will definitely increase. Most of the incubation centres have a proper enquiry form or a programme where you can apply. But let me tell you the flipside of it. In a lot of cases when a lot of people write to somebody, they write with a sense of entitlement that I am entitled to receive a reply and they do not do an introspection. We have to even introspect ourselves and review what we are sending out to them. There is a possibility that the idea might not be good enough for the incubation centre, or your business is not at the right fit for the incubation centre or you are really early in the game to accept you. So, you have to again find a fine balance between both the things – right approach, evaluating yourself and making improvements in the keeping update – this is a cyclic process, it keeps on going and eventually you will reach there.
The Key to Compelling Pitch Deck
In this way, Mr. Dilnawaz Khan, from his own experience of sitting on both sides of the table – pitcher as well as investor, has elucidated the importance of this visual document providing essential information about your business plan, product or services, fundraising needs and key metrics like valuation, target market and financial goals. However, the success of a pitch deck depends on its storytelling, so as to streamline the informative overview of your company to potential investors, such as venture capitalists or angel investors. It remains the key for acquiring funding.