10 Slides to Funding Success
The Traction Slide
Part 5 of 10
Startup Capital: 10 Slides to Funding Success – The Traction Slide
One of my responsibilities as an Executive Coach is helping company founders with the creation of their Investor Pitch Deck. Throughout my career, I have created and helped create many Investor Pitch Decks. Some of our team’s Investor Pitch decks, especially early in my startup career, upon reflection, were “horrible”. Sometimes our teams were successful in raising monies from investors. Many times they were not. I never thought that the content and presentation style of the investor pitch deck might be hurting us. Boy, was I ever wrong! By working with many investors, I’ve learned what they want in an Investor Pitch Deck. In my last company, we raised $87M over rounds A, B and C. Today I will discuss “Startup Capital: 10 Slides to Funding Success – The Traction Slide – Part 5 of 10”.
When an Entrepreneur is putting together their Investor Pitch Deck, they usually assemble a hoard of information. Sadly, often what they assemble is a “book” that is 20, 30, even as much as 80 pages in length! Most of us humans have a very short attention span. Even ad networks know that most ads longer than 30 seconds in length don’t work with consumers. For Investors, the successful length of an Investor Pitch Deck is about ten pages and 7-15 minutes in presentation length.
This 10-part series covers the ideal content, order, and verbiage of the ten Investor Pitch Deck pages. You’ll have learned how to craft your story into a successful ten-page Investor Pitch Deck that can get you funded!
Traction Slide – Why Important?
Last week in Part 4 of “Startup Capital: 10 Slides to Funding Success“, I spoke about the Solution slide and its importance. This week I’m speaking to the Traction Slide, the fifth page of every presentation and its importance. After having discussed the Solution slide, the mind of your audience is asking “What market Traction do you have?”.
Why? First, you’ve wetted your audience’s appetite with your Solution to the Problem and the Market size. Your audiences brain is now poised to hear how you’ve proved your Market by showing who wants your Solution!
If you’ve followed this series, and your investor’s in your Market space, they’ll be on the edge of their seats!
Traction Slide – Content
Look at the example image for this post. What do you see? You see a bunch of company logos! Why? These are the badges of your initial customers who are proving your Solution’s value. They are either buying from you or are evaluating your product/service for purchase. The logos on this slide convey how much market Traction you have. If you have 50+ customers, you want to pick those that are either the largest or best audience recognition.
What if you don’t yet have customers even in the evaluation stage? Simple, in most cases, this means you are presenting too early. I wouldn’t even want to take monies from friends and family yet. It’s best to get some sort of MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to show potential buyers before raising monies. I know that this is not always possible. Keep in mind that if you don’t have any proof that your concept has ready buyers, you are higher risk. This means you’ll have a smaller pool of potential investors. It also means that investors will demand a much larger “share” of your company if they invest. It’s best to bootstrap your company until you have an MVP to show.
Traction Slide – What’s Your Story?
So, what do you say while your Traction Slide is visible? If you use company logos for the visual content, you’re going to share information about 3 of these companies! Why three? You’ve got less than a minute on this slide. Most people can’t remember more than three points about any slide. More than three begins to devalue all that you speak about.
So what are you going to say about each of the three companies? Speak to their size in potential to buying your product. Next, speak to the level which they are currently engaged. Are they in evaluation? Have they placed purchase orders? Have they already made purchases that you’ve delivered? How much have they purchased?. That’s it. You’re out of time and you’ve made your point. Allow me to share an example.
“Our largest client is IBM. They have completed evaluation and purchased their first 100 seats. We expect them to buy 250 more seats over the next 12 months. Our next largest client is Sales Force. They have purchased 20 seats. We expect them to buy 100 more over the next 12 months”. Our third largest client is Mozilla. They have purchased 10 seats. We have 17 other clients currently in the evaluation phase.”. Remember, this is a “first date”. Your audience needs a “taste” of your Traction, not a full meal!
We Can Read or Listen – Not Both!
Most of us humans can either “Read” or “Listen”, but cannot do both at the same time. Your Pitch Deck slide presentation exists to support “the story” you are going to be telling your audience. Does your Investor Pitch Deck has a lot of words, charts with numbers, or distracting images? Then your audience is going to switch their brain into “reading mode” and out of “listening mode”. As soon as that happens, you’ve lost your audience and will struggle to get them back to listening to YOU! To avoid this, use mostly images and as few words as possible, usually in bullet form. So absolutely, positively NO SENTENCES!
So, I suspect many of you were surprised with respect to the importance of the Traction Slide. If you’re starting you create your first investor presentation, congratulations! You’re going to be starting off on the right foot if you follow my recommendations above. Go back and look at your Traction slide and apply what you’ve learned above. If possible, you should wait to read the remainder of the series before you present again. I can almost promise you a better reaction from your audience.
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If you subscribe to my FREE Business Coaching Newsletter, I’ll also offer you a discount coupon to my book “Startup Capital: 10 Slides to Funding Success”. In the book, I do a more detailed dive into each of the ten slides. You’ll see both good and poor examples of each of the ten topic slides. I’ll also discuss good and poor examples of presentation techniques. You’ll learn how to identify “Lookie-Lou” investors from “serious investors” who will really write you a check. I’ll teach techniques for how to overcome nervousness, stuttering and “brain-freeze” during your presentation. You’ll learn appropriate attire and why showing up even a minute late can doom a presentation.
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Next time …
In the next blog post, I will write about “Startup Capital: 10 Slides to Funding Success! The Competition Slide – Part 6 of 10”.
Read a Previous Post: “Startup Capital: 10 Slides to Funding Success! The Solution Slide – Part 4 of 10“
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