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Show Me the Money: Funding Presentation Do's and Don'ts

Updated: 2 days ago

You’re a first-time founder who finally discovered the new venture that excites you. What once existed as scrappy pages of jotted-down ideas have since developed into a thoroughly vetted business model. You’re ready to push the ball forward and advance to the next stage.

Where do you go from here? It’s pitch time!

First-time founders feel immense pressure to nail down the perfect pitch. The truth is, your pitch will never be perfect - but you can get it close. This guide covers funding presentation best (and worst) practices that can help you design your strongest presentation and leave your audience eager to learn more.


Funding Presentation Best Practices for Startup Founders

  1. Tell Your True, Honest Story Investors are equally as interested to learn about you as they are to learn about your business model. They want to know the person behind the business and better understand who they’re investing in. Audiences are eager to measure the strength of your founder-fit - how and why you are the right founder to pursue this venture. Take the opportunity to engage your audience with honesty and empathy to establish trust. Investors will be pulled in, eager to learn more.

  2. Identify The Problem You Solve  Investors will need to clearly understand the problem that your startup will solve. The more articulate and clearly defined your problem is stated, the stronger your pitch will be. A problem statement shouldn’t be incredibly lengthy and convoluted - less is more. Identify the problem you solve in one slide and quantify it as best you can. Validating your problem through research and statistics will mean a lot to investors.

  3. Answer “Why Now?” With Data and Confidence Investors want to know why it’s the right time to invest in you and your business. As you present, investors actively assess their potential ROI, and the current landscape is a major consideration that feeds this analysis. Come prepared with the analysis of "why now" already mapped out in a dedicated slide. You can attack this question from a few different angles. You can double down on the problem and leverage quantifiable evidence as mentioned above. Or you can use this portion of your presentation to validate industry or market growth using CAGR % figures. The strongest argument will include both considerations. However you decide to get there, communicate your research with conviction. If investors cannot detect your confidence, it will be difficult to make them confident in you, too. 

  4. Expect and Embrace Feedback A funding presentation is a two-way dialogue and a major learning opportunity for you. The Q&A opens the door for constructive criticism and specific lines of questioning. Be prepared for this and embrace it. This is a significant opportunity for all founders to think outside the box and engage with other business minds. So be receptive to feedback. The ability to defend your business model without going on the defense is a delicate balance, and investors will use this time to assess your responses and demeanor. Use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to be agile and open-minded. After all, you're a critical part of the package they're investing in.

Funding Presentation Don'ts: Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Avoid Cluttered Slides When building your presentation deck, design your slides in such a way that investors can quickly identify the major points. Keep it simple. Information overload can distract your audience and detract from the quality of your material. It’s best practice to include pertinent information, in a digestible way, with the option for verbal clarification if needed.

  2. Resist the Temptation to Ramble  You might not anticipate some of the questions that come your way, and funding presentations have a way of sharpening your proficiency in thinking on your toes. If caught off guard, fight the instinct to ramble, and remember it's okay take a breath and take a moment to collect your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know an answer. Instead demonstrate your willingness and eagerness to deep dive into the subject and follow up. A strong leader is quick to acknowledge that they don't know what they don’t know.

  3. Avoid Setting Unrealistic Projections When it comes to financial projections, it's normal to want to present the most impressive figures. However, there’s a fine line between impressive and misleading. Investors understand that pro forma projections are just that, projections. Cash flow, run rate, revenue, customer acquisition, and other estimations will be more seriously considered if they're grounded in reality. Any hint of deception or 'out of touch' numbers will raise an immediate red flag.

  4. Do Not Ignore the Competition  You might feel apprehensive about highlighting players in the same space, however, this is critical knowledge of which investors should be aware. It’s your responsibility to inform your audience on the entire landscape. Understanding your competitors inside and out allows your team to focus on the attributes that differentiate your product or service - and will convey to investors your expertise in the market. A 2X2 matrix is an effective way to present your competitors - mapping out competitors’ strengths and weaknesses on two axis categories. This visual illustrates where you land on the matrix, relative to the market, and reveals how you fulfill a need that the others have not met. 

To engage in investor presentations is an incredible accomplishment in and of itself. The first go-around will not be 100% perfect - the more practice and experience you have, the better you become.

Think of the first time you drove a car. If your experience was anything like mine, it was awkward and unnatural. Your parent might have also had to grab the steering wheel. But with more experience and years of driving, what once felt out of place is now second nature. Allow the guide above to help you operate the car and before you know it, you’ll be steering on your own. 

Good luck, founders!

For continued learning, check out our event recording on how to create a great 60-second elevator pitch:


Deanna DeFelice is an accomplished professional in the CPG sector. She is well-experienced with domestic and international supply chains and direct-to-consumer business operations. With a passion for mission-driven brand-building, strategy, and innovation, Deanna's current focus is on the FemTech space. You can connect with her here.


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