Pitching Your Idea

Last week at dig Buffalo, I sat in on the pitches of the three Buffalo-based startups that will be competing in New Orleans as part of the upcoming 2016 Collision Conference: Loupe, ACV Auctions and Painless1099.

With just four minutes to pitch, their presentations were trimmed down to only the necessities. Impressively, despite that time limit, they all managed to cover the 10 or so fundamental points that are expected of every pitch deck. What are these points? Guy Kawasaki explains them in a simple, easy to remember way with his 10/20/30 rule:

10 Slides

A basic pitch deck is expected to cover the following points:

  • The problem you’ve recognized
  • The solution you’ve created
  • Business model
  • Technology / how it works
  • Marketing and sales
  • Competitive analysis
  • Who’s on your team
  • Projections and milestones
  • Current stage of development, traction and timeline
  • Call-to-action (whatever that may be for your project)

20 minutes (or less)

Keep it as short as possible. While this obviously isn’t an elevator pitch, it should still be kept brief. Save the rest of your blocked-off meeting time for questions, thoughtful discussion and determination of next steps.

30-point font (or bigger)

Too much text crowding the screen is never good—it makes you look like you can’t remember your own presentation, and it puts the audience’s focus on reading the screen rather than you. Keep text to a minimum, only serving as a prompt for what you’ll explain yourself.

And finally, on looks: While a little dressing up never hurt a presentation, if you’ve got a great idea and a strong business model, don’t spend too much time stressing about clever animations or add-ons. Airbnb didn’t, and they’re doing just fine.