Each section of your seed pitch deck serves a specific, high-value purpose. Simple, clear and compelling, well-built decks educate (and excite!) investors on product and market potential. A fine weave of art and science, just one section can derail investor interest if it doesn’t offer the information they’re looking for. This becomes especially true when considering the time investors spend reviewing pitch decks these days.
Our recent research also reinforces this, with two sections of the pitch deck at the seed stage standing out for related but opposing reasons. We found that investors spend more time on the business model section of decks that successfully raised their round. However, the traction section revealed the opposite: investors spent more time on this section in decks that did not successfully raise their round.
Here, we look at how seed founders can give investors the information they’re looking for in these sections in their pitch decks.
Use your business model to “make” your pitch deck
Investors spent nearly twice as much time on the business model section in decks they ended up funding. This means two things for seed founders. First, this section has to be thoroughly prepared. In one to three pages, this section should clearly and simply outline your business model, how it’s scalable, and how you plan to make money.
Second, if you show investors you’ve really thought through your monetization plan, they’ll reward you by spending a lot of time digesting everything you have to say here. As we know, time is money and we found the extra time investors spend here is worth more than $150,000 in seed funding (read more here).
Preparation is key. Develop your business model, with a repeatable and scalable monetization plan, ahead of time—not as an afterthought when building your deck.
Avoid any breaks in investor interest by showing clear traction
If the business model can make the deck, your market traction has the potential to break it. Here, consider whether you’ve established a clear product-market fit. In the market traction section, you want to show your product has enough stickiness. For seed founders, consider whether you have, and can clearly show, a product-market fit that’s appropriate for the seed stage.
Seed founders often use different forms of traction to demonstrate market momentum in the seed stage. For example, these could be letters of intent, customer testimonials from current users, a well-defined customer pipeline, or user feedback from beta trials.
Three actionable takeaways for a clear, compelling pitch
What are some actionable tips founders can take away from these make-or-break sections? Keep in mind three considerations when building these two areas of your deck.
- Investors want to see a fully-fledged business. With more at stake in earlier funding rounds, investors now look for fully-fledged businesses at earlier stages of the startup lifecycle. While they don’t expect you to have everything figured out, they are looking for more than just a cool idea.Think about these two sections long before building your pitch deck, and develop your business plan alongside your product. This shows investors an organic relationship between monetization and the cool product you’re introducing to the world.
- Make sure your market traction is convincing enough. While companies in the pre-seed stage might not be able to show multiple forms of traction, seed companies should be able to show more than one. As seed funding becomes more competitive, these requirements only become even more stringent.Investors expect to be quickly convinced by notable traction at the seed stage. If it’s not convincing enough, they’ll spend extra time scrutinizing this section which may not work in your favor.
- Can you sum up your plans to make money in a single sentence? A memorable business model section is both thorough and simple. While a comprehensive section reflects the time and energy you’ve put into your plan, it should also be easy to understand. As a best practice, avoid bogging this section down with unnecessary jargon and complexity.A good test: Can an investor, your parents, or your friends recap how you plan to make money in a single sentence? Make it easy for VCs (in or out of your field) to walk away with a clear, memorable understanding of your product, its traction, and how it’ll yield revenue over time.
If the business model can make the seed pitch, a lack of meaningful market traction can break it. By focusing these two pitch deck elements on the information investors are looking for, founders can build clearer, more compelling pitch decks that lead to more successful rounds of seed funding.
To dive deeper into seed fundraising trends, pitch deck analysis, and a pitch deck template, check out our fundraising playbook.