Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Want to raise money for your startup?
You'll need to make a great investor deck. I recommend using a Milestones Slide at the end of your startup pitch deck. Your Milestones Slide will do five important things:
Frame the conversation with investors
Remind you to ask for the money (people forget this part)
Give targets and runway
I put the Milestones Slide as the very last slide in any pitch deck. Just leave it up on the screen when you're done presenting and it will support exactly the conversation with you want to have with potential investors.
Here's a video walkthrough of the milestones slide:
Constructing the Milestones Slide
Here's a walkthrough of how to create your own Milestones Slide. The important thing is to show what you’ve already accomplished plus what you’re working on next. I find that two columns is easiest for people to understand.
Here's my secret formula:
Column One: Milestones You’ve Already Accomplished
For the first column, pick the most important items that you’ve already achieved. These typically include product, traction, and fundraising. You want to show investors that you’re a natural born hustler and that you’re already making the magic happen. Now they feel more comfortable giving you their money.
They also start to feel a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) because you're doing so well without them. FOMO is what convinces investors to actually write checks.
Here are some examples of accomplishments you might list:
Completed mock-up and pricing validation with 50 potential customers
Released minimum viable product (MVP) to first 1,000 users
Traction & Revenue:
10,000 registered users with 3,000 weekly actives
$10,000 monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
Signed first two enterprise customers
Founders invested $125k
Raised $50k from friends and family
Completed Y Combinator accelerator and received $125k
You should include anything that shows how awesome you are, but try to keep the list to five items or less so that people can understand it at a glance.
I prefer using checkmarks to indicate which items you've already completed.
Column Two: Money and Roadmap
For the second column, start with your “ask.” This is usually how much money you’re raising; whether it’s equity, convertible note, or SAFE; and how much you already have committed from investors. Your ask could be something different depending on who you’re presenting to, like a strategic partnership, etc.
This is another chance to create some FOMO, especially if you already have some investors on board for part of your round.
“Raising $250k as equity with $150k committed" sounds much better than just "Raising $250k as equity." It makes investors feel like they need to hurry to avoid missing out. Look for every chance you can to create FOMO.
One of the most common mistakes I see in startup pitch decks is forgetting the “ask.” We're at the end of your presentation and I still don’t know what you want—because you haven't asked. Always force yourself to remember to ask by putting it in writing on the last slide. Your audience will thank you.
Investors love it when you tell them how long it will take you to accomplish the items in your To Do list. The cash you're raising gives you a certain number of months of runway. For example, you might be raising $500k for 9 months of runway.
Planning is a crucial skill for you to develop when running your company—and many people find it easier to get things done when there's a big deadline looming. Check out my Rocket Pro Forma financial projection template for startups if you need to create a solid financial plan that includes your runway.
Next list the main items that you’ll accomplish with the money you’re raising. This is your promise to investors: “If you give us this money then we will hit these milestones.” So make sure you can do it.
I try to avoid listing the $ or % that you'll spend on product, salaries, and marketing here. Everyone knows you'll spend the money on product, salaries, and sales.
Instead I recommend focusing on key KPIs (key performance indicators) that play off of the accomplishments you listed in the first column.
For example, if you listed these two accomplishments in the first column:
2k weekly active users
$3k monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
Then I might list the following KPIs in the second column:
10k weekly active users
Now you're saying that you're going to use this $500k to increase both KPIs by five times within 9 months. Investors can see what they're buying with their money and make an informed decision.
Examples of Effective Milestones Slides
Here's a video where I walk through a few examples of how other startups have ended their pitch decks. Some are effective, but some aren't.