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Avoid These 9 Pitch Deck Mistakes When Asking Others For Money Crafting an efficient pitch deck requires serious effort, but at least it's not wandering in the dark since certain rules are shaped by decades of relationships between startups and investors.

By Kirill Gurskiy Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Following these principles can save you a lot of time and nerves and help your business succeed.
  • Update and improve your pitch deck after getting investors' feedback.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Raising money is critical to a startup's success. It is essential to fuel growth, build infrastructure, attract talent, mitigate risks, access networks, scale marketing and sales efforts, and achieve milestones.

A pitch deck is one of the most important documents a founder can craft in their career. By now, certain rules of what should and shouldn't be in a pitch deck have been established, shaped by decades of venture market history.

Here are a few recommendations on what to avoid to make a successful presentation:

1. Lack of essential information

Certain information must be included in every pitch deck because all investors want to know it:

  • the problem and solution your startup intends to address
  • the timeline for the development of that product and your total addressable market size
  • your business model, unit economics and traction
  • competition landscape and peers' analysis
  • your team and its experience
  • How can investors help you with all that? What is the amount you are raising and the use of funds?

Skip any of these sections, and your chances of hearing back from investors decrease significantly.

It's always a plus if you have the demo version of your product to show how it works in action instead of describing it. Product demonstrations, videos and prototypes give your audience valuable hands-on experience. This approach allows investors to see the potential of your solution and creates a lasting impression that words alone won't achieve.

Another addition to strengthening your pitch deck is to share your product's first metrics. Traction and evidence of market validation can instill confidence in potential investors. If you want them to feel even more positive about your solution, demonstrate the company's progress and achievements to the current or future date with a strict roadmap.

Related: Watch Out for These 9 Seed Funding Gotchas

2. Hard-to-follow overloaded slides

Prioritize clarity — avoid overstuffing slides and keep them clean. Each slide should contain a single, clear message so that your audience grasps the ideas quickly and remembers them long after the presentation. Also, avoid jargon, overly technical terms or convoluted explanations.

3. Outdated numbers and data

Investors expect to see a lot of numbers in a deck, including market size, market research, peers' data and your own metrics showing traction. All these numbers must be fresh and regularly updated. No investor would take you seriously after receiving a pitch deck with 2022 market data in April 2024.

4. Messy materials

A book is judged by its cover. Apply the same rule to pitch decks. Investors see tons of decks daily, so it is crucial that your pitch deck stands out amongst them and is remarkable. To achieve this, use visuals, concise text, and memorable images (not the stock ones) to convey your points.

Related: 8 Things Your Pitch Deck Needs

5. Pulling the wool over investors' eyes

Sometimes, companies focus more on "advisors" instead of team members directly involved in product development in their pitch decks. Or mention projects in which they were involved indirectly or for a very short period.

It's in people's nature to desire to associate themselves with big and renowned projects or market leaders. However, that is a losing tactic since investors usually have wide industry connections and can easily check that information. Show your real strengths and weaknesses honestly to give investors the right expectations and build strong and trusting relationships.

In the section about your team, highlight experience as evidence of what you are all capable of. Show specific projects that team members worked on and what they were responsible for on those projects. Also, it will be great to note the achievements that they gained during these projects.

Related: Craft a Winning Pitch Deck That Wows Investors

6. Too many slides

Ideally, a deck should consist of 10-15 slides. An important purpose of a deck is for the founder to show that they can present their ideas clearly and structuredly. Cut off all unnecessary and general details to keep your deck down to business.

7. Lack of market validation

Neglecting to include information on market research, customer feedback, or competitive analysis is a critical mistake. Investors and potential partners want to see the evidence of a demand for your product in the market.

Include data on your target market's size, growth potential, and any early market traction you've gained. Testimonials, partnerships or customer feedback help validate your business concept.

8. No call to action

End your deck with a clear and compelling call to action to make it more memorable and actionable. Indicate how much you are raising to let investors know what you want from them right away.

Remember to explain how you plan to distribute that amount to help investors understand how their funds will be used. Define your value proposition, objectives and exit strategy upfront and make evident how your proposal can benefit investors.

Related: A Guide to Visualizing Data in Your Pitch Deck

9. Neglecting and avoiding feedback

A memorable pitch deck requires thorough practice and refinement. Rehearse your presentation multiple times to ensure smooth and confident delivery. Seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or peers to identify areas for improvement. The more polished your pitch is, the more likely it is to be remembered for the right reasons.

Update and improve your pitch deck after getting investors' feedback. Look for professional analyses of pitch decks on related services.

Kirill Gurskiy

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Managing Director of GEM Capital

Kirill is Managing Director of GEM Capital, a gaming-focused investment firm based in Cyprus. Since 2019 GEM Capital became one of the world's most active investors in games. Kirill is a CFA charter holder.

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