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10 Pitch Deck Mistakes Startup Founders Should Avoid In 2024

10 Pitch Deck Mistakes Startup Founders Should Avoid In 2024

Planning to prepare a pitch deck? Well, identify these common mistakes that a startup entrepreneur makes while preparing a pitch deck and learn practical ways to avoid them.

Thousands of pitches are made every day. However, only 1% of the pitch decks find success in acquiring funding.

Well, the chances of you acquiring funding from an investor are dependent on multiple factors. However, don’t let an inappropriate or incompetent pitch deck be one of the reasons you fail. 

Well, there is nothing like a perfect pitch, but there are a few mistakes you can consciously avoid to give your brilliant business idea an ideal pitch.

Let’s decode those mistakes in this article and find a practical way to avoid them during your pitch call. 

Ready to get started? Let’s dive right in. 

10 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Your Pitch Deck

Want your pitch deck to be perfect? Well, you can start by avoiding these mistakes and then rework your way to perfection. 

1. Offering an information overdose

Amongst the common mistakes an entrepreneur would make badgering the investor with too much information is one of them. Instead, take some time beforehand to understand what an investor looks for in a pitch. 

Generally, an investor would expect to gain a crisp understanding of the following topics by the end of the presentation: 

  • Business concept and its objectives
  • Value proposition
  • Market opportunities
  • Products and services
  • Achievements and Milestones
  • Team members
  • Financial model/ Revenue model
  • Growth projections
  • Funding requirements 

Now, if you dive too deep into the technicalities and complexities of these topics, you may lose your investors' interest. 

So, follow the guy Kawasaki 10/20/30 rule. According to this rule, any business presentation should have a maximum of 10 slides, with a presentation lasting at most 20 minutes. As for 30, the font size in the entire presentation should not be smaller than 30 pts. 

However, if we are considering the elevator’s or investor’s pitch, the presentation lasting between 7-10 minutes would help you capture the desired effect. 

2. Making the narrative very robotic

Another mistake is that people tend to sound too boring while making a presentation. Either they over-explain the slides' contents or simply repeat what’s on the slide. Well, both of them are ineffective. 

For an investment pitch to be successful, you need a captivating narrative. A narrative that can engage the readers and can glue your core idea into a compelling story. 

How do you do that? 

Well, you can begin by explaining your startup journey and the aspiration behind the business idea through a story. Further, you can continue the narrative to explain your market, competition, product, financials, and milestones. 

Doing so will evoke necessary emotions in the investors and keep them invested in your presentation.  

Now, there’s one more mistake you can avoid. The mistake of not giving your story a cohesive flow.

See if the elements of your story are scattered and people have to join the dots to gather a sense, the story needs fixing. 

So after you establish a general flow of story, practice the pitch and fix the gaps to make your overall presentation attractive and captivating. 

3. Making the slides long and complicated

Stop if you plan to cram your slides with paragraphs of details. No one has a time to go through that. 

Statistically speaking, an average investor would spend 3 minutes and 44 seconds on a particular pitch. That’s quite a tight timeline.

Now, will hoard your slides with lengthy paragraphs work in your favor?

Well, it’s proven that people today have an attention span lower than that of a goldfish. If you don’t plan your pitch deck to be concise and on-point, you are more likely to lose your readers. 

So, instead of long sentences and paragraphs, choose head pointers and visuals to convey essential information. Avoid using jargon and acronyms, and keep the information relatively easy to grasp. 

Doing so will keep the investors engaged and attentive during the presentation. 

Also, keep Kawasaki's 10/20/30 rule in mind, the one we talked about earlier. This will help you plan your content and design efficiently. 

4. Crammed market research

Most of the pitch decks need to answer one important question: Why have you chosen a particular market segment? 

See, investors tend to place their bets on markets that are profitable, sizable, and pose significant demand. So, if they don’t get a realistic understanding of the market and its growth potential, they won’t invest. 

How do you fix this? 

Well, begin by offering a thorough understanding of the chosen market size and highlight the TAM (Total addressable market), SAM (Serviceable addressable market), and SOM(Serviceable obtainable market) derived using appropriate calculations.

Further, prove that there is demand for your product or service and there is a customer base willing to pay your price. Also, show them who your ideal customer is, what are their interests, pain points, hobbies, and spending capacity. This will give them a more thorough insight into the understanding of your market. 

Don’t make the mistake of painting a peachy picture. Investors would appreciate a realistic picture where you are aware of your shortcomings. 

5. Not showing the competition

Most presentations lack information about competition, and that is something that you should definitely avoid. 

Most people think that claiming zero competition would attract investors to their business idea. Well, that’s not true. 

Investors are more likely to invest in markets and products that have an existing healthy competition. Competition, in fact, shows that there is a considerable demand for products and services you want to offer. 

Lack of competition would generally mean that you are trying to chase a market with no demand.

Again, it would be controversial to make your competitive analysis only with insignificant competitors. While this may show you have the upper hand in the market, a seasoned investor would immediately identify this tactic of yours. 

So instead, create a realistic projection of your competition and prove that despite the competition, you can stand strong in the market with your competitive edge. 

Make this section more grasping by presenting the information through charts, graphs, and visual elements. 

6. Not demonstrating early traction

Another mistake aspiring entrepreneurs commonly repeat is not including traction details in the pitch deck. 

Whether you are raising funds for growth or whether you wish to capture initial investment for your startup, investors want to be sure of your ability to execute before investing in your business.

So how do you do that? 

See, even if you still need to acquire your first sale, here are a few ways you can demonstrate traction in your pitch deck. 

  • Demonstrate the MVP of your product and offer the results of beta testing. 
  • If you have tested the products on early adopters, show the results of early customer testing. 
  • Clarify if you have assembled a strong team already. 
  • Highlight if you have onboarded a powerful person as an asset for a company. 
  • Also, mention if you have acquired new technologies or equipment for your business. 

Lastly, businesses with previous history can talk about their revenue, growth, and milestones to win the investors' trust in their ability. 

7. Lack of financial model

Not including details of revenue and financial models will weigh down your pitch significantly. It is simply one of those mistakes you cannot afford to make. 

Your pitch deck should include a slide that highlights your business’s earning avenues. And no, you don’t need an extensive plan projecting fancy figures. All you need is a realistic plan that shows how you will make money. 

Ideally, a financial model should help the investors understand the business state in the next 5 years. It must empower them to gauge the financial feasibility of an idea by offering metrics for growth, ROI, and profitability.

However, don’t overdo this slide by including all sorts of numbers from your financial reports. Instead, attach your detailed financial plan and refer that to investors if they further probe into the topic. 

8. Unclear funding demands

If you don’t have a clear amount to ask, figure that out before presenting in front of investors. 

Most presentations don’t have a slide that talks about funding demands. And even if they have a figure, they don’t have any explanation to justify the demand. 

So firstly, identify the amount you need from an investor. Ideally, an investment should cover at least 24 months of expenses that are essential to run the business.

Secondly, show how you will utilize that investment to achieve your projected milestones. 

Lastly, offer crystal clarity regarding equity percentage, expected runway, and minimum ticket value to give investors a thorough outlook on what they will get.

All in all, enrich this section with solid figures and back them up with appropriate calculations.  

9. Not introducing your team

If the investors have gained confidence in your business idea, they want to know the people who would turn those ideas into reality. However, most startups fail to include a team slide in their pitch deck, leaving investors unsatisfied with their presentation. 

Generally, an investor would spend more time on this slide to understand whether or not they can trust your team with the funding. So this section needs to be enriching and informative for them. But how will you do that? 

Well, instead of just offering the names of people at a particular position, clearly highlight the skills, expertise, and experience of your people to prove that they are the right people to drive your business toward success. 

Don’t shy away from glorifying your superheroes. After all, if you are successful in winning over the investor’s trust here, your chances of acquiring the funds increase substantially. 

10. Not adding contact details

Every fund-seeking startup has made this mistake at least once while pitching the investors. Well, don’t do that. 

Whether you are pitching through mail or in person, always have a concluding slide that offers contact details in case investors wish to probe further or gain more information. 

If the investors don’t find contact details after going through a presentation, they will move on to the next deck since you offered them no way to connect. 

Well, now that you are aware of these mistakes, consciously make a point not to repeat these in your pitch deck. Let’s now understand an effective way to create a compelling pitch deck. 

How to create a pitch deck?

A practical and realistic pitch deck can be your ticket to get the funding requests for your startup approved. However, how do you create a pitch that captivates and keeps your target investors invested? 

Well, there’s a traditional way where you create your pitch through PowerPoint or other presentation software. However, let’s face it. It’s way too time-consuming and the end results are quite not satisfactory. 

Another way is to use designing software that offers customizable pre-designed theme templates. While such software can help you to make your deck aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t offer much help with content planning and strategic designing. 

Lastly, you can use the most modern and effective solutions and create pitch decks with AI. By using a pitch deck generator, you get exhaustive options of templates and AI assistance to write effective content for the slides. Such software is easy to use and can propel you to create investor-ready pitches in a few minutes. 

So, now choose your ally to prepare your pitch deck and start pitching to investors. 

Conclusion

Wrapping up, one might feel overwhelmed trying to figure out the correct way to prepare and present a pitch. However, ensuring that you avoid these key mistakes would greatly contribute to the success of your pitch. 

On a summarizing note, keep these 3 points in mind while designing the content and delivery of your pitch: 

  • Always adopt a storytelling approach. 
  • Keep the pitch deck short and crisp. 
  • Offer key information to persuade investor’s interest. 

Well, no amount of tips, techniques, and reading will get you a perfect pitch unless you take the first step. 

So let’s get started. 

Vinay Kevadiya is the founder and CEO of Upmetrics. His ultimate goal with Upmetrics is to revolutionize how entrepreneurs create, manage, and execute their business plans. He enjoys sharing his insights on business planning and other relevant topics through his articles and blog posts.

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