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One of the most important (and sometimes most dreaded) elements of the startup business model is pitching. It’s common knowledge that no startup is an island – execs must develop and deliver a strong strategy that appeals to potential investors, partners and clients. Pitching is an integral part of this process – communicating an effective, forward-thinking plan gets people excited and can be that deciding factor that pushes your startup into the big leagues. To start, you will need a killer pitch deck that will not only start the conversation, but keep your backers talking. Community members at The Vine have achieved ongoing growth through a variety of resources, including access to an extensive network of executives and startup professionals. The Vine presents plenty of opportunity for seed-stage entrepreneurs to tailor their business models, whether it be through one-on-ones with industry leaders or brainstorming sessions in our collaborative work environments. A hub for expertise and startup development, The Vine is where businesses get growing. If you’re interested in accelerating your business plan with powerful presentations, check out our list of pitch deck tips below.

1. Choose Passion Over Powerpoint Slides

We’re sure you could spend days, if not months, explaining how your startup will change the world. However, in the world of pitching, sometimes less is more. Think about it this way, slides are important, but, ultimately, investors want to see passion and drive. A deck should really serve as more of a guideline that moves the conversation forward while keeping key points top of mind. According to an infographic compiled by DocSend, your audience will only spend an average of 3 minutes and 44 seconds reading the presentation, so, knowing that, it is recommended that decks stay under 20 slides. If you’re looking for a place to start, Google has crafted a pitch deck template designed specifically for startups. For further inspiration, consider reviewing the pitch decks of successful startups. This collection of pitch decks feature real presentations from tech leaders like Airbnb and LinkedIn, amounting to a total of $400 million in funding.

2. Memorize Your Elevator Speech

In the world of marketing, the phrase “elevator speech” or “elevator pitch” gets thrown around a lot. Essentially, you should be able to encapsulate the purpose of your company in the time it takes to get from one elevator floor to another. Your elevator speech should be two sentences max. The legendary venture capitalists at Sequoia recommend starting every pitch with a “Company Purpose,” a sentence-long declaration that embodies a brand’s mission. From there, you can elaborate on core elements like the “Problem,” or what’s missing from the market, and the “Solution,” which explains how your product fulfills that need. Your pitch deck should also incorporate information about core demographics and markets, how you plan to outsmart the competition and touch on your overall business model. Some startups also choose to explain the “Why Now?” – why hasn’t your product been invented before and why will it thrive today? For a deeper dive into crafting a powerful elevator speech, read The NEW Elevator Pitch by celebrity business coach and U.S. National Elevator Pitch Champion, Chris Westfall.

3. The Most Viewed Slides: Financials and Team

DocSend notes that audiences focus the most on financials and team bios, viewing pages for 23.2 seconds and 22.8 seconds, respectively. This data indicates that two things are valuable to investors: the numbers and the faces behind the company. Interestingly enough, only 57 percent of the decks analyzed by DocSend had a financials section, but, if your company has enough experience to include information on projected numbers and financial results, it may be worth the extra effort. Be aware that if you do choose to include a slide on financials, it is likely to be the most read slide in your deck, so don’t scrimp on the details. If you’re looking for ways to improve your financial models, seek out guidance at The Vine. Here, startups have access to a number of leading tools and expert insights that seamlessly sharpen business plans.

4. Present Solid Numbers

During the pitch, investors will want to see hard data. In Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of Your Dreams, authors Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis present 10 slides that should serve as the basis for any pitch. As published in Inc., Baehr and Loomis recommend presenting actual sales data that paints a picture of your business’ profitability. If your company is pre-revenue, consider using tools like AdWords to monitor sign-ups via landing page. This will provide a quick snapshot of demand for your product or service.

5. Use Feedback to Your Advantage

No matter how well your presentation goes, chances are there will be questions. If you notice some grey areas or point that require further explanation, take note because this could be a chance to make your pitch deck that much better. One way to shore up your pitch deck is presenting it to your team or other professionals in the startup community. As an entrepreneurial ecosystem, The Vine presents plenty of opportunities for startup leaders to learn from a vast network of professionals. Our collaborative spaces are the perfect place to hone in on what’s working and what could be improved to ensure your pitch is as powerful as possible. “As a first-time entrepreneur, there was a lot to learn, and very quickly,” says The Vine community member and Portfolium Founder and CEO Adam Markowitz. “Surrounding myself with that kind of mentorship and access was such a fantastic experience.”

From strategic consultation to collaborative brainstorming, you can find the tools you need to sharpen your business plan and your pitch deck at The Vine. Here, entrepreneurs can access a number of innovative resources specifically designed for growing startups. To learn more about The Vine, click here.

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