Every startup founder knows the importance of making a good a first impression. At each point in a company’s lifecycle, entrepreneurs must sell their idea, product or service to customers and prospective investors.

When it comes to raising investment capital, you never know when a conversation could lead to a check. For this reason, entrepreneurs must learn to craft an effective narrative that communicates the company’s value, no matter the setting.

At SeedInvest, we host private investor breakfasts to give our entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch to a room of venture capital firms, family offices and accredited investors. We limit each pitch to 5 minutes, which keeps the message simple, focused, and straightforwards.

While we want our entrepreneurs to make their presentations unique to their business, we do give them some guidance on things that have worked for startups presenting to our investors in the past. Here’s the internal guide that we give to companies raising funds on SeedInvest.

Pitch Presentation Outline

Before getting started, quick piece of advice. A pitch deck that you use for in-person public speaking and an investor deck that you send by email are very different. Every presentation must be tailored to its specific audience. At our events, we have a range of investors with a variety of backgrounds. It’s safe to assume the majority aren’t experts in your industry vertical, so clarity of communication is key.

The SeedInvest standard format is: 10 Slides, 30 Seconds Each, for a total of 5 Minutes.

Slide 1: The Intro Slide

First take a moment to introduce yourself and your company. Give a high-level summary of what your company does without getting too into the weeds.

Visuals: On the slide itself, you really only need your logo, a product image, and your tagline.

Slide 2: Big Problem

What’s the big problem you’re solving and why should your audience care? All great companies exist to solve a tangible problem in the market – this is your chance to make a case that it’s a problem worth solving. Don’t use too much text to distract from the story that you’re telling in-person.

Visuals: Include keywords and images that relate but don’t overcomplicate your message with too many graphs, Wordart, or a cluttered collection of statistics.

Slide 3: Solution

Now that you’ve defined the problem in a relatable and compelling fashion, what’s your hypothesis? In a few short sentences, you should be able to boil down exactly what your company does and the value that it provides to your customers. Again, keep it simple so that your grandmother would understand it.

Visuals: Include visuals of your product and service. There’s definitely no need to flood this slide with bullets and text.

Slide 4: Traction

After presenting the problem and summarizing your company’s solution, show that it’s also a problem that your customers are willing to pay to solve by highlighting your traction to date. This slide is critical to keeping an audience of investors engaged. Don’t focus on projections; focus on exactly how you’ve proven out your hypothesis.

Visuals: Include a clear graph of historical traction and growth and present the key metrics that investors should remember (highlight those metrics on the side). Don’t forget to include an x and y axis on any graphs you present.

Slide 5: Market Opportunity

Your traction may be impressive, but what’s your growth potential? Use this slide to emphasize the addressable market. This is where you make investors realize the potential disruption that you’re causing in the market. While it’s great to be in the billions, be truthful. It’s a number investors will remember and ask about.

Visuals: A huge number speaks for itself. Show the market size and/or growth but make sure to emphasize the million, billion or trillion dollar number.

Slide 6: Competitive Edge

If it’s a problem worth solving in a market ripe for disruption, there will be other competitors in the playing field. So highlight your secret sauce and show how that is positioning you better in the market. Don’t get too in the weeds discussing competitors. Focus on your company. If there is one obvious big name competitor, make sure you clearly articulate that “unlike x, we y.”

Visuals: Pull out and visualize the key components that differentiate your product or use a very summarized table to address the competitive landscape.

Slide 7: Team

Above all else, people invest in teams. Use this time to showcase your background and the other executive’s backgrounds. Highlight relevant experience and impressive past accomplishments. Make a case for why you’re a winning team.

Visuals: On the slide, include headshots, emphasizing impressive statistics.

Slide 8: Raise

How much are you raising? What stage round is this? What is the valuation (or terms if a note)? After your cover financing, include previous investors or advisors who are already in your court. If you can show fundraising traction, it goes a long way.

Slide 9: Why Now?

As you wrap up your pitch, make an argument for investing in your company in this round. Why should investors make a bet right now? Why is now the right time for your company to raise capital and grow fast? Why is this space ripe for disruption? This is your chance to make a call to action to the audience.

Slide 10: In Summary

You’ve presented a lot of information in a short period of time. To finish your pitch, drive home the 3 key points of your pitch to keep investors thinking after you leave the stage. Whether its traction, market, team – it’s up to you to decide what 3 details you want investors to remember.

This post was written by Peter Thomson on October 15, 2015

Perfecting Your 5 Minute Pitch