Creating an effective pitch document for an early stage business

Pitching is an art – one that not all founders are very good at. Many a time, founders know it all but find it really hard to articulate the stuff that is most important. The initial pitch document becomes extremely important as it is this piece of paper that could determine whether the investor would like to spend his time even having a conversation with you or not… The pitch document therefore needs to be interesting enough to arouse interest in the business and its potential.

I will try to outline a few principles that I believe may be followed to make a good pitch document.

  1. Keep the audience in mind – Founders are living their business night and day; therefore one of the commonest mistakes that founders tend to make is to assume that the reader will understand the business just as they do. The pitch must be simple enough for a third person to comprehend – any technicalities must be simplified and details best left to the follow up conversation.
  2. Great start – Probably the most important part of the pitch is the first two to three slides. Founders must use this to highlight the pieces that could be most interesting to the reader – this could be the problem being solved if its unique, highlights of the team if the team is very capable, or highlights on the traction if that has been very impressive.
  3. Storyline – It’s always best to structure a pitch document to read like a story; the content on any slide should ideally follow from the central message given in the previous slide. The best way to do this is to start off by writing a crisp executive summary (of maybe 7 to 10 points) of the opportunity and then to build a slide each around each of those points. For example
    • The problem existing currently is ______
    • Current available solutions are ineffective because ______
    • To solve for these problems we are building ______
    • The team building the product is a great mix of domain knowledge and experience
    • Our initial trials have validated the product….
    • The use case and the market opportunity are _____
    • Going forward, our key focus areas are going to be _____
    • We are therefore looking to raise _____ to be used primarily for _____
  4. Don’t miss on the important things – While the content for the presentation may vary to ensure continued investor interest, some of the pieces that I believe need to find their place in the pitch are the problem being solved and the solution (with the USP), the make-up of the founding team, stage of business and traction, brief on the market opportunity / use case & competition, fund raise details and planned quarterly milestones / use of proceeds.
  5. Use data intelligently – Data tables and charts in themselves may not be useful unless they are interpreted in the manner in which it was intended. Always ensure data is accompanied by the takeaway…
  6. Cut the ‘Gyaan’ – Probably the easiest way to lose an investor is to start the presentation with a ton of slides talking about the economy and the market size, etc. Stuff like this may be important but certainly not important enough to take the focus off the business and the team.
  7. Own the document – Finally, not everyone has the skill to create the best pitch document – if one has to outsource this task, please ensure that you understand every last comma mentioned in pitch – fumbling for information during a follow up call or not knowing what is in the pitch is the greatest injustice a founder can do to his fund raise…

While different investors may definitely look for varying levels of detailing and information, I believe that a well drafted pitch document has the ability to draw the investor into a conversation. There’s never an assurance but that doesn’t mean one must not try.

Wishing you the best for the raise!


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