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Successful pitches: 10 tips for an impressive pitch deck 

In their day-to-day work, Kilian von Berlichingen, Senior Investment Manager at HTGF, and Arnas Bräutigam, Co-Founder of AddedVal.io, look at numerous pitch decks critically. In this blog post, they provide a series of tips on how you can avoid making the most common mistakes in your pitch deck.

from left: Arnas Bräutigam, Co-Founder of AddedVal.io and Kilian von Berlichingen, Senior Investment Manager at HTGF

1. Keep your pitch deck short and sweet:
Your pitch deck should be precise and to the point. Many founders make the mistake of filling their presentation with unnecessary information (at such an early stage), which leads to key aspects of the pitch being drowned out. Keep your pitch deck to just 12 to 15 slides if possible.

2. Use enticing and meaningful headlines:
The first thing anyone reads is the headline of your slide. If the headline is meaningful and exciting, then investors want to find out more. Instead of generic headers such as “Problem” or “Solution”, you should look to convey the key message of the slide in the headline. Use concrete facts and figures to hook your audience and to provide an insight into what your start-up is all about.

3. Quantify the problem and show its impact:
The “Problem” slide is one of the most important in your pitch deck. However, many founders do not put enough time and effort into quantifying the problem and explaining its impact. Provide concrete figures and data to highlight the scale of the problem in terms of time and money. By doing so, you can show investors that you have thoroughly analysed the market situation and that there is a real demand for your solution.

4. Emphasise the experience and know-how of your team:
Investors don’t just invest in ideas but above all the people behind these ideas. The younger your company is, the more important your team is for investors, as you will not yet have built up traction or have a lot of performance indicators that you can point to. It is therefore essential that you place your team’s expertise and experience front and centre. Don’t just list the names and positions of your most important team members, but also highlight their professional backgrounds and successes – ideally backed up with figures. Show why this is the right team to lead your start-up on the road to success.

5. Present your current development and business traction:
Another important aspect overlooked by many founders in their pitch decks is to present the current economic (!) development and business traction of their start-up. Investors want to see that an idea doesn’t just exist in your head, but that there is indeed a market for your solution. Make sure to give clear figures and data that highlight your current development and business traction as well as the future potential of your start-up. Key performance indicators include revenue, revenue per customer, number of customers, sign-ups and pipeline.

6. Show what sets you apart from the competition:
What makes your start-up stand out? Clearly distinguish your company from the competition through your target group, product features or go-to-market strategy. Investors always have an eye on the competition. As founders, you can use your pitch deck to show that you have analysed the competitive landscape.

7. Clearly show how far you can get with this round of funding:
On the “Funding” slide, many founders highlight how much money they need and what they want to spend it on. However, it is much more important to show what milestones you can achieve in terms of recruitment, product development and traction and how long you could get by with the funding. This gives investors a clear picture of how ambitious or realistic you are and whether they believe the traction will be sufficient to successfully raise the following round of funding.

8. Make sure to have a consistent and appealing design:
You don’t need to have a professional design that costs a lot of money. However, a consistent and appealing design is crucial to your pitch deck looking professional and being easily accessible. Be consistent in your use of fonts, colours and formats. A design that has been well thought out helps to keep the audience interested in reading the slides and also leaves a positive impression.

9. Don’t be too wordy and focus instead on bullet points:
Putting too much text on a slide can lead to important information getting lost. Focus instead on using bullet points to present all data and facts in a clear and precise manner to ensure that no relevant details are neglected.

10. Add your contact data and a call to action:
At the end of your pitch deck, it is essential that you provide a way for people to get in contact with you. This might be a personal email address or telephone number; a calendar booking link also provides an easy way of setting up contact.

If you follow these 10 tips for optimising your pitch deck, you can increase your chances of impressing investors and securing funding for your start-up. A compelling pitch deck is the key to success and can make the difference when it comes to getting investors excited about your business idea.


About the authors: 
Kilian von Berlichingen is Senior Investment Manager at HTGF where he has worked at the company’s Berlin site since 2020. Arnas Bräutigam is Co-Founder of AddedVal.io, a platform that makes introductions between (pre-)seed start-ups and suitable business angels. 

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