Pitching to investors when you’re not a start-up

If you google ‘pitch decks’, you will find just over 50 million results, offering you advice on how to pitch your start-up to investors and telling you stories of entrepreneurs who successfully raised VC capital on anything from their first, to their twentieth attempt.

But what if you’re not a start-up? What if you’re an established business, who has spent years getting through the R&D and early-commercialisation phases of your business and you’re looking for investment to grow? Or you’re fully commercialised, having spent years building your reputation, and are developing an exit strategy/looking to take the company public?

A quick search for ‘investor decks for established businesses’ keeps you stuck in start-up land. So how do you work out what needs to go into your presentation? This is a topic of conversation that often comes up with our clients, since creating a strong pitch is fundamental to generating serious interest in your business.

While not all presentations will be the same, there is a general formula that can be followed. The intention is to take your reader on an engaging journey through your business, leaving them with no doubt as to why they should be investing.

1. The story so far:

First and foremost, set-the-scene. Tell the story of your business so far with some pertinent facts – revenue growth, key clients/contracts and major successes could feature here. This establishes a track record for the company and shows investors that there is substance to your business.

2. The future:

It’s no good if your track record is purely historical – investors want to see it continue to build. By presenting your sales pipeline and estimated revenues, investors can see the potential of your business.

3. Competition/Industry analysis:

One thing we make sure our customers understand, is the landscape in which they’re operating. In order to differentiate yourself from the competition, you have to know it intimately. Providing an overview of your key competitors and explaining how you are better, along with an overview of market share and industry revenues will show investors that you know how you are positioned within the marketplace.

4. Company strategy:

Tell the story of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. This slide should focus on your company growth strategy and the actions you need to take to attain your goals.

5. Investment request:

What are you actually asking for? What will it be used for and what will the ROI be? By illustrating how you will use the proceeds (restrict it to the big-ticket items only) and what the financial impact will be, you can answer the fundamental questions that any serious investor will be asking you.

6. Projections:

Provide financial projections based upon best and worst-case scenarios, to highlight that your business continues to have positive prospects even if you don’t achieve the level of investment you’re hoping for.

7. Management team:

Investors want to see that you’ve got the right people running the business, so this slide should show the key team members, with a couple of points about their relevant experience and what they bring to the company.

8. Long-term goals:

This should show the ‘big picture’ of your business – what are your long term goals, how will you build revenues (through product/service diversification? By entering new markets? By capturing new customer segments?) and any other points that will demonstrate the potential of your business to investors.

Whilst it is tempting to put a lot of detail into slides, making them as self-explanatory as possible, we would always counsel against doing this. An investor deck should act as a compliment to your own verbal presentation, being both a teaser and a take-away. Therefore, the presentation should be as visually engaging as possible. Avoid prose at all costs – you want your audience focusing on what you’re saying, not squinting at the screen trying to read lines of text. Bullet points should be short, concise and backed-up by research, data and justifiable assumptions.

Ultimately, the success of your investor pitch will be largely down to how it is presented. However, the stronger your deck is, the easier it will be to capture the attention of your audience. So whether you’re looking to attract a joint industry partner, seeking capital to expand or looking for a potential buyer, having your pitch deck ready to go is valuable.

If you’d like help to build an engaging and professional investor deck, please get in touch!

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