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There are several ways to build an investor deck to get seed funding, but there is no perfect way, of course. The common thing between all successful decks is that they are short and clear. Be sure to read 9 seed funding gotchas and 8 things you need to know a about raising venture capital before you start working on your deck.

In this post we will talk about what goes into a typical seed round deck.

The outline

Here are 3 different outlines. One from Nicole Glaros, my mentor and Chief Product Officer at Techstars, one from Steve Schlafman from RRE Ventures, and the last one is my own.

Nicole’s outline:

1. Logo with 1 liner
2. The Problem
3. The Solution
4. The Demo
5. Business Model
6. Marketing / Sales Effort
7. Market Size
8. Differentiation
9. The Team
10. Timeline / Milestones / Traction
11. Financials
12. The Ask / Close
13. Contact Info

Steve’s outline:

1. Title & Contact Info
2. Problem
3. Vision / Mission
4. Product / Solution
5. Market Size / Trends
6. Distribution / Acquisition
7. Monetization
8. Roadmap / Timeline
9. Traction / Milestones
10. Projection / Metrics
11. Team / Advisors
12. Funding

My outline:

1. Team
2. Vision
3. Problem
4. Solution
5. Demo
6. Traction
7. Business Model
8. Differentiation
9. Market Opportunity
10. Financing + Milestones

As you can see they are mostly similar with some minor differences in the amount of information and the order. Most items should be 1 slide. It is fine, of course, to add two or more per item, but don’t have too many slides. Th perfect deck is a short one.

General pointers

DO:

  • Clearly label each slide – Problem, Solution, Team, etc to make the deck easily scannable.
  • Make slides simple. Don’t put a ton of text.
  • Use larger fonts, and bigger graphics.
  • Make charts and stats clear and awesome.

DON’T:

  • Include unrealistic growth forecasts charts that are hockey sticks in the future.
  • Describe how many engineers you will hire.
  • Make stuff up or lie.

Slide details

Team: List the team, and your background. Highlight specifically what, if anything, qualifies you to start this business. List relevant experiences. Also list key advisors and investors, if you have them, and if they are well known.

Vision: What is your vision? Why did you start this? What is your true north? Clear and simple one liner.

Problem: What problem are you solving? Again be brief. Add data and market research to support your statement. Explain why this is actually a problem, and a big problem worth going after.

Solution: What is your insight? What is unique about it? Be very specific. If your solution involves a platform / defensible technology, be sure to illustrate it. Add another slide, if makes sense.

Demo: Show don’t tell. Embed a demo video of your solution. 1 min. Make it awesome. Be product obsessed.

Traction: State key metrics that drive your business. Show charts, make them awesome. Speak to your metrics and growth – it is important. Even if your traction isn’t huge, speaking to it illustrates you are metrics driven. Investors want to back metrics-driven founders.

Business model: Describe clearly how you are making money or planning to make money in the future. If you don’t know yet, be ready to explain which key metric is important for your business and why.

Competition: Avoid magic quadrants, they are tired. Instead, list all your major competitors and highlight their strength. Then below, explain in 1-line what makes you different.

Opportunity: Describe your addressable market, and size it. Give clear backing to how you arrived at the numbers. Avoid top down analysis: we are in $X billion market. Instead, show clearly what the actual addressable market is. Attach bottom up / unit-economics analysis to back the number.

Financing: Describe how much you are raising, and what milestones you will achieve with the money. Good milestones are growth milestones like revenue, customers and users. Each financing is done to get you to either profitability or, more likely, another financing. This is why it is important to get the milestones right. Read this post for more details.

For another excellent overview post on how to build a pitch deck see this post by David Tetenfrom FFVC.

Once you built the deck, get feedback from your advisors and other founders. Then go and field-test it. Be self-critical and listen carefully to feedback from potential investors. Don’t get happy ears. Iterate and change the deck based on the feedback you get. Make it better.

Like with everything, there is no such thing as perfect deck. The more you work on it, the more you iterate, and the better clarity you get on your business the faster investors will write you a check.

Alex Iskold is the Managing Director for Techstars New York. This post originally appeared here

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Alex Iskold
(@alexiskold) Managing Director of Techstars in New York City. Serial entrepreneur, founder of Information Laboratory and GetGlue. Engineer, geek, complex systems addict, lover of running and yoga. Invest and help tech startups. He actively blogs about startups and venture capital at http://alexiskold.net.