Immad Akhund is the CEO and co-founder of Heyzap, the leading Social Games distribution platform beyond Facebook. Heyzap has raised $3.5 million to date and is Immad’s third Startup, He will be writing a series of articles for Lessons Learned.
I have advised a number of Web companies on their way to raise money. I am often mentally ‘face-palming’ as they stagger through their initial pitch. Helping entrepreneurs is something I am passionate about. Knowing how to comfortably raise funding removes the distracting worry of money. Not having to worry about money allows entrepreneurs to focus on the important things, like creating a multi-billion dollar company.
The key preparation material that most people create for pitching potential investors is a presentation deck. This is normally a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation that highlights key parts of your pitch and something you talk along-side when pitching. To help you write your deck I have complied the most common advice I give to most start ups.
The two most important aspects of pitching are: 1) being confident and 2) conveying a consistent powerful story.
You must firmly know that you are doing a great thing for the potential investors. You're not asking for money. Rather, you're making them money. And, making them a lot of money at that. This may seem like a bold statement but if you do not believe in your product with such conviction the investors will not believe in you either. The deck/pitch is you conveying the vision of your idea.
It is vitally important to weave a story through your deck. The story should be of who you are and how your idea is going to change the world. Every slide in your deck is part of that story. Stories anchor ideas, help familiarize new concepts and create a smooth flow from start to end of your deck.
Presentation decks should generally be no more then 6-to-10 slides, with three to five bullet points per page with lots of images and a few graphs. The deck itself should be simple and you should be verbally padding-out the slides with conversational floods of information.
Creating the deck should take one or two days. Do not get trapped in creating the perfect deck on version one. There will be a few versions. Heyzap had six versions before we even spoke to investors. Once the first draft is complete, pitch it to other entrepreneurs to get feedback. Give them the whole experience from start to end. Pitching to your friends will help you feel relaxed and their response should tell you if your idea is ready for the Shark Tank. You should not blindly follow all the feedback you receive. Instead you will need to look for common problems in the pitch and ways of improving them.
Once you are pitching investors you will also get continuous feedback and you will still need to iterate your deck, answering common criticisms and providing more information. Sometimes the feedback you receive may be contradictory but if one point is raised consistently then iterate your deck. It is also good practice to have an appendix section for questions that are commonly asked or questions you anticipate being raised.
Memorize your pitch
Before you arrange to speak to any investors you should have the flow of your presentation memorised and be able to take questions in your stride. Remember whenever a question is raised to return back to the relevant slide with ease and weave everyone back to the story you are telling.
Topics you must include
Here is a deck, of a deck, containing all the key points to cover so that your story flows seamlessly.
Hopefully this should help you get less 'face-palms' and more 'high-fives'. If you have any questions about presenting a deck or want general startup advice, shoot me an email.
Special thanks to Fatema Yasmine for help with editing this article.
(For more from Immad, visit his blog.)