How we created an investment pitch for a small business

How we created an investment pitch for a small business

To meet its expansion goals, a small business was aiming to attract outside investment. Accountants had prepared an investment pitch, but the reaction to it was poor. The founders commissioned us to design a more effective deck. Working with their team we pulled together the information potential investors would need, created the PowerPoint decks for print and screen, and supported the pitches with rehearsals and additional content.

Gathering the data

The client already had a lot of the information investors would want to see. However, this was spread around the business in different documents, presentations and people’s heads. Using a combination of document discovery, interviews and questionnaires, we extracted this information and collated it in a central database. Along the way we identified where there were gaps in knowledge and assumptions had been made that could be qualified.

Income vs Expenditure worksheet used to structure the presentation

Building a narrative pitch

Moving beyond the pure financials included in the accountant’s pitch, we created a strong narrative around the company’s plans that formed the backbone of the pitch. This concentrated on telling the story of how they got to where they were and then grow to meet their objectives.

We designed rough graphics, building up a base PowerPoint deck that was then edited to match the narrative. The presentation deck was cut to around a dozen key messages, each supported by strong visuals supporting the message and giving the client a focus to discuss further details.

Slides we removed from the core pitch weren’t lost. We collated these into an appendix that could be used as needed. Some were reworked for the print version of the deck.

Print and on-screen pitches

We designed the on-screen pitch first, using elements from the client’s branding, such as fonts and colours, to give it a consistent style. One variation we accommodated was the client wanted a black background for the on-screen version as they expected to present it on large TVs and didn’t want a “letterbox effect” to distract. We had to create a colour palette and design principles to match.

On-screen slide created from the income vs expenditure data

Once the on-screen deck was settled, we moved to the print version. This was treated as a separate document which gave us freedom to incorporate supporting evidence that could be discussed in person, then reviewed in private.

For example, including the quarter-by-quarter break down of financial projections on the screen proved to be distracting, yet was appropriate supporting information for the printed version. Their business model canvas appeared as a single slide on screen and was supported in the print version by several supporting slides that added detail.

Once the client agreed the document, we formatted it to A4 and wrapped contents, contact details and other information into it ready for it to be printed or emailed as a PDF.

Print version of the income vs expenditure slide, with additional detail not suited for presentation

Supporting the pitch

To ensure the pitch was presented confidently we supported walk-throughs and rehearsals. We also included an initial set of presenter notes with key points and supporting facts in bullets. These evolved during the walk-throughs.

Feedback from the first pitch showed a weakness in providing supporting information. We incorporated hotlinks in core slides to supporting slides. When challenged over detail, the client could click a part of the slide, move to a more detailed slide and then jump back in an apparently seamless way. With clear navigation and large hotspots, we gave the client a means to move around inside their presentation without losing their place or becoming flustered by trying to click on small prompts.

End result

The most immediate result was securing the investment they needed. However, a significant benefit they reported from the process was understanding their business better. Initially vague plans for “growth” had become concrete as we’d challenged them to explain their ideas and put them into a presentation that told their story.

Lessons for clients

Having supported multiple investment pitches, we think there are two important lessons you can take from putting together a deck.

The first is to remember screen and print are different media and have different demands. An on-screen presentation can’t contain the detail investors will want before they commit without becoming overly complicated and potentially boring. Preparing a separate print version of the pitch that uses the same imagery and narrative structure but expands on detail will give them the information they need and support your story.

Second, the process of putting together a pitch deck has value in its own right. It will help you understand the inner working of your business, turn ideas into concrete proposals and spot where you could improve. This self-awareness will help convince others you are a founder they should invest in.