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  • Writer's pictureMike Lingle at Rocket Pro Forma

The Pitch Deck Analyzer for Every Startup

My goal is to help entrepreneurs launch and scale their companies rapidly. This often requires raising money to accelerate growth. But the fundraising process can be confusing, and it’s hard to get a straight answer—or even an actual “no”—from investors.

Your pitch deck is key, as are your financial projections.

There are lots of pitch deck templates online, but nothing that tells you how to improve your specific slides.

What founders need is a pitch deck analyzer.

So I created one and you can grab it here for free.

You can use this Pitch Deck Analyzer to quickly identify where your strengths are, so you can:

  1. Highlight your startup’s best attributes in your pitch.

  2. Fill in any missing info that you already have.

  3. Identify opportunities to improve your business over the next few months.

As entrepreneurs we want to find the path to success while avoiding as many of the pitfalls as possible. One of the founders I worked with said it best:

“Starting my own business is like being lost in the ocean in the middle of the night. I have no idea which way to swim to get to shore.”

Our startup Pitch Decks are reflections of where we are in our journey. This article lays out the roadmap we're looking for.

What Investors Want

Professional investors may look at over one thousand startups per year—and invest in only three. That's more difficult than getting into Harvard! How do you make sure you stand out?

The secret is to spend less time talking about the problem and your solution, even though that's pretty much all we want to talk about as entrepreneurs!

The secret is to show investors what they're looking for. Here's a quick pie chart of what investors care about. Please notice how small the "Business Plan" slice is.

Here's what investors want you to talk about:

  • Investors love momentum. How much are you hustling to move things forward *without* their money? This is the easiest way to stand out. There's always something cool you can do using the resources you have. In fact, running a business is a continuous cycle of doing what you can to

  • Investors love great teams. Who are you and why will you succeed? Don't worry if you don't have a resume yet—simply do what the founders of Buffer did and show how much you've already accomplished for your startup.

  • Investors love traction. Have you already built something? Do you already have people using it? Are you already making money? Yes you can sell the dream—but it often helps when you can prove you're turning the dream into reality. One founder I know built a beta version of a referral platform, went door-to-door to sign up users, and drove the first $20k of referrals himself. That's a founder that investors want to back! (plus this checks the "Team" box too).

  • Investors love customer acquisition. Do you know how you will acquire customers? Do you know how much it will cost? Have you run tests? Have you done any customer validation.

This last point deserves some explanation. As founders we think we need to build the thing first and then bring the customers in. Modern startup theory says different: businesses are actually "behavior change machines" so we need to start validating the behavior change before we build anything. Otherwise we are likely to build the wrong thing (ie- we *think* we know what customers want, but then they behave differently than we imagined). Think of how much easier it is to change the blueprints of a house vs. actually trying to modify the house once it's built.

My favorite book on how to do this is The Right It by Alberto Savoia, who used to work at Google. It's a short read and provides a simple framework for early customer validation. My favorite quote from the book is, "People's opinions are worth zero points." It's only people's behavior that counts.

The Fundraising Process

You can expect to have several conversations with someone before they write you a check. People invest in patterns, and your first meeting is simply one dot. Your next few meetings create your pattern—so your job is to actively manage this process.

Always show up talking about new things you’ve accomplished without the investor’s money. This creates FOMO while also highlighting your hustle.

We recommend always running the “No money plan” while you’re out raising money. We’ve seen successful entrepreneurs sit down ahead of time and create a calendar of good news that they’ll talk about during the raise.

Read my article: Investors Love Momentum for my 6 best tips.

The Pillars of Startup Success

The short story is that founders who pitch well are able to raise money—so how do you create a great pitch?

First, let's look at data from CB Insights on why startups fail and map it to six main areas of focus to help startups not only succeed—but grow exponentially.

The six pillars of startup success are:

  1. Vision — Solves for “Lack Business Model” and “Get Outcompeted”

  2. Product — Solves for “No Product / Market Fit”

  3. Execution — Solves for “Not the Right Team”

  4. Growth — Solves for “Poor Growth Strategy”

  5. Investment — Solves for “Run Out of Cash” and “Pricing/Cost Issues”

  6. Technology — Solves for “Poor Product”

Now we have a roadmap that we can apply to our Pitch Deck.

What Investors Say

The thing about investors is that they often won’t say “no” if they’re not interested. Instead, they’ll say things like “Please keep us updated on your progress,” and “Let’s re-connect in six months.”

Those are actually examples of investors saying no, but it doesn’t feel that way. That’s because investors don’t want to shut a door on something that may eventually turn out to be awesome. So from the investor perspective it’s better to be vague.

This makes it hard for us to get detailed feedback about their pitches from investors.

My Pitch Deck Analyzer will help. It highlights areas where a company is strong, uncovers things that founders may have accidentally forgotten to include, and tells entrepreneurs where they need to focus on making changes to the actual business.

The Pitch Deck Analyzer

So now that we know what investors look for—along with what makes startups successful—we can use the Pitch Deck Analyzer to see both strengths and areas for improvement. Once we know our strengths, we can re-organize our pitch decks to focus on them while minimizing the opportunities for improvement.

Here are the results when we ran a test on Front’s pitch deck for their Series A raise: