Pitch Deck: Business Model and Milestones Slides

This post has been updated and can be found here.

Again, in THIS previous post, I outlined the high-level flow for an investor pitch deck that, in my opinion, covered the basic, necessary information required for a solid, introductory investor presentation.  Here, we’ll get into the details of slides 5 & 6 with additional commentary and advice to go along with each.

Slide 5: Business Model (aka How we make money)

Business Model / How we make money slide

Business Model / How we make money slide

The business model / how we make money slide is a critical component to the pitch deck.  Again, it can take many different forms but the punchline is the same:  our company does “this set of stuff” in order to make money.  It may be a SaaS-based web application, it may be an appliance sold directly into IT departments, it may be a freemium model…what ever it is, you must explain it clearly.

As you can see from the example slide here, the business model slide can actually be a product/solution/service description as well…as long as you’re sure to describe HOW you sell the product and the details of your go-to-market strategy and/or plan.

A core aspect of the business model slide is an articulation of how the business scales within this business “model” and go-to-market strategy.  For selling directly into IT departments, it’s scaling up a direct sales force; for a product that can leverage existing channels, it’s finding and signing up channel partners; for SaaS businesses it’s how customers “find” your company on the Internet and your cost of customer acquistion versus your lifetime value of the customer to the business.  Does any part of your business act as a “loss leader” for another, more valuable part? if yes, then say so.  Do you have two models running simultaneously?  Make sure you clearly describe and delineate between them…and hopefully describe how they benefit and support each.  You get the idea.

Slide 6:  Company Progress and Milestones

Company Timeline and Milestones

Company Timeline and Milestones

The Milestone / Progress slide is your opportunity to show how far you’ve come since the original concept for your business.

In the example here, there are two simple examples of how you can present this information.  This sort of slide gives investors a short-cut to understanding how well you’ve executed so far in your company’s life.  Important, value-creating milestones over a reasonably SHORT amount of time suggests that your company is focused, you’re prioritizing what is important to grow your company and executing against that list.

Value-creating milestones can really be anything but should clear a certain “news-worthy” bar to make a list like this. I’d suggest that the following items would clear that bar:  founding the company, funding events, launching a product, winning a customer or significant trial, signing business-affecting partners, and so on.

Importantly, this slide is also an opportunity for you to forecast what your company will do next. Nothing suggests great execution to an investor such as calling your shot and coming back later and showing that “you did what you said you were going to do.” Conversely, be very careful NOT to suggest a big milestone such a significant customer win unless you’re VERY confident.  The first question out of an investor’s mouth during any follow-on meeting will inevitably be: “so, did you land that big account?”   You never want to say “No” to that question because there is no good explanation for why not given the fact YOU are the one that told them to expect it.

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Pitch Deck: Market & Company Slide

This post has been updated and can be found here.

In THIS post, I outlined the high-level flow for an investor pitch deck that, in my opinion, covered the basic, necessary information required for a solid, introductory investor presentation.  Here, we’ll get into the details of the next two slides with commentary and advice to go along with each. This is the beginning of the narrative of your company.  (NOTE: i’m tend to use product/solution interchangeably; not a best practice…but ok for this discussion).

Slide 3: Market Context

Market Context Slide

Market Context Slide

When building the Market Context slide, you should feel comfortable with the nagging feeling that SURELY everyone on the planet knows at least this much information about the market your company operates within.

Perhaps they do; perhaps they don’t.  In any case, you need to frame up why you market is interesting: it’s big and growing; it’s going through massive disruption; it’s suddenly ready to enjoy the leverage of technology for the first time; everyone else is thinking about the problem/solution/etc wrong.  It’s important to describe the (hopefully growing) market in which your company will capture a small and growing portion.

This is also your opportunity to describe any compelling dynamics currently at play; perhaps something that gives your company an advantage. In a real sense, this slide should be the set-up for your “secret sauce” / “why we should win” slide that is coming right up.

Slide 4:  THE SLIDE:  Company / Solution Overview

THE SLIDE: company overview

THE SLIDE: company overview

For me, this next slide is the most imporant slide in the deck.  This is the slide that, if necessary, you could use to tell the entire story (what you do, why (=value) you do it, and for who) of your company.

While this slide can look VERY different, I believe it contains the same basic information for any company.  The concept of the past, present and future is key to this sort of slide because it allows you to talk not only about the product/solution you’re selling today but your vision of the future and the associated products. Your customers value your ability to see into your/their collective future and anticipate problems they don’t even have yet.

In this example, the left of the blue bar represents all of the past…where customers didn’t need to (or didn’t KNOW they need to) use your company’s solution. But now, here in the blue bar, “we all now know we have this problem.”  We should name it! A perfect use of the header space.  Here, it’s called “The Land Grab” – which referred to broadband service provider’s need to quickly and efficiently acquire new broadband customers before their competitor beat them to it.  NewCo has products to help with this…and the effect is “Broadband Deployment Acceleration.”  Investors should appreciate how well you understand the problem (so well, in fact, that you named it). It also shows that NewCo’s products map to the problem and have a clear value proposition.

The middle, green bar represents the near-future.  Perhaps NewCo’s customers are already experiencing problems associated with this near future. In any event, this represents the next step in how NewCo would work with their customers…and forecasts the products they might sell to address the next phase of challenges.  If it makes sense, name this one too!  This helps investors understand that you’re thinking down the path of product/market evolution and that you’re less likely to be a one-trick pony.  The more logical the linkage, the better. Here, it makes all the sense in the world that FIRST you have to initiate the service, THEN you have to manage and support effectively while minimizing the costs to do so.

Finally, the orange section represents your vision of the future. If your company could wave a magic wand, this would be the resulting condition or capability. In general, this phase should be predicated in some capacity on the earlier phases. It’s really important for investors to hear your vision of the future; everyone will understand that it will take great products, a willing market, superior execution and money to get there…but you have to have a sense of where “there” actually is.  If your company vision is having your first / only product increasingly adopted – that’s not a company vision – that’s just execution. In this case, the vision was to eventually enable broadband service providers to sell value-added services (gaming, security, triple-play) to their subscribers in order to create some lock-in and differentiation for their service…instead of being relegated to providing only the increasingly commodotized broadband “pipe.”