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Investor presentation is the first major step that your startup has to make. Even though the stakes are extremely high, there is hardly enough time to devote, and as a result this lack of time forces the founder to follow one of the many business plan templates floating around the web. This approach is sub-optimal. In this article we will learn how to develop a compelling message from scratch.

Step – 1 Start with you, not with Google

How do you start preparing your presentation? You Google. Type how to make startup investor presentation and you come across scores of articles and business plan templates. Thankfully, all are quite similar to a large extent. Problem – Solution – Opportunity – Traction – Team – Competition – Differentiation – Funding – and so on. You take the framework and start filling in your details. Right? Wrong!

When you begin working on your startup deck, always start with yourself. Your story is unique and cannot simply be put into a standard container. Try to analyse, look back at why you chose to start this business? What made you notice there is an opportunity? What incident or consumer feedback made you believe that you were onto something big? What possibly moved you to invest your life into your business, will also move your investors.

So start with your own story and ditch the template for now. This will set the right context in which you will develop your story. We will come back to the template in a while.

Step – 2 Plan in analog, stay away from PowerPoint

The best way to create content for any presentation is to start with a pen and paper (or a whiteboard and marker). What happens when you start with PowerPoint? It does not allow you to see the bigger picture and it stifles creative thinking and flow of thoughts.

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Start writing your content on the whiteboard. Write down the overall story in one sentence. Then add the key messages (crucial pieces of information like traction, opportunity). Writing on a whiteboard allows you to think clearly and see the bigger picture first.

Step – 3 Develop your Content – The more the merrier

What is it that you want to tell the investor? Write down everything on that whiteboard. Yes, you heard it right, everything. This is not the time for restraint. It’s like brainstorming. Do not worry about the flow of content right now. Keep writing. Your story, team, competition, USP, market size, traction, consumer story, problem and solution, who is your customer and how will you attract them to you product / service, everything that comes to mind.

Step – 4 Return of the Business Plan Template

The reason we shunned the template earlier was to start with a fresh mind devoid of any bias and of what is right or what is wrong. Now that we have our content up there, we will listen to the experts. Open the business plan templates just to check if you have missed out anything. Problem – Check. Solution – Check. Competition – Check, but we need a bit more information here. So ask some team member to dig deeper. Differentiator – Check. Keep going. Ensure you have covered everything. Many a times startups miss talking about competition, USP or utilization of funds. You may refer to this template of Sequoia Capital and ensure your presentation covers everything they recommend. By the end of Step 4, you have solid content in place.

Step – 5 Editing – Lesser the better

Now it’s the time to take out your duster (bare hands will also do). But first, take a break. Let your mind do something else for a while. Now come back and start removing what is peripheral. If you had only 1 minute, what will you tell the investor? Put a * next to that content on whiteboard. This is your elevator pitch. If you had only 3 minutes, now what will you tell the investor? Put a * near all of that content on the whiteboard. These are your key messages.

Think of it as concentric circles. At the center is the one message and it is surrounded by the key messages. Now expand the time to 15-20 minutes and select some more content. Whatever is left out, should not be in your presentation. Keep them in your backup slides and present only when needed.

Step – 6 Logical Structure

Our content has now drastically come down. If you had presented everything that was there on the whiteboard initially, you might have taken an hour. We have now cut it down to 15-20 minutes. Now start drawing arrows and figure out the flow of content. What will you say first? What next? Will you start with the team or talk about the team at the end? The answer will vary depending on your stage of business and your style.

Step – 7 Open PowerPoint

Your content is now ready and you know the flow as well. Open your software and start preparing your slides. You will realize that you will now need a fraction of the time in preparing slides as you already know the content inside out and the flow as well.

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