The title slide or the cover slide of your deck is one of the most important slides within your pitch deck. Most startup tend to do this with their cover slide:
It is possible to make it look well designed with this layout. The problem with a slide like this is that you fail to impress your potential investor with the very first thing that they will see in your pitch deck.
Over the last 3 years by working with many founders, investors and fundraising rounds, I have created many variations of cover slides. The experience of split testing different layouts of slides and looking at the deck design as a product by itself allowed me to learn a lot about pitch decks. Some of the insight I gained through the process when it comes to the cover slide:
- The cover slide will be what’s on the projector or your iPad/Laptop screen while you introduce yourself to the investor. I have been in meetings where the investors spend more than 20 minutes talking about the company or the general industry without going into the startup. What is in front of the investor when all this is happening? Your cover slide! So, in some cases, your cover slide will get more face time with your investor compared to any other slide.
- Sometimes you might be in a public demo day or a group pitch structure. If you have an audience, a nice background image is not enough to pull their attention. You need more. (again, while the emcee introduces you, what’s on the screen? Your cover slide!)
- By using just a background image and your logo, you are losing your chance to impress the investors. Why? Cause your logo can’t rely much information (if any) about your startup. Imagine a situation where you have been looking at 20 different decks in one sitting, which would you prefer? A deck with a cover slide like above or a deck with a cover slide with hooks (explained below) to pull you in?
The Cover Slide – Improved.
This is the cover slide design that have worked for me over and over in the last year. I have changed/added/taken out certain parts of this depending on the startup and their branding, but these are the basic elements.
Your tagline: This is a way to show the investors your big vision statement or WHY you exist as a company. Please refrain from saying Uber for X, or AirBnB of Y. Tell them something that will hit them in the gut.
“When you first meet an investor, you’ve got to be able to say in one compelling sentence what your product does.”Ron Conway, an active angel investor for over 15 years. Investments included: Google, Ask Jeeves, Paypal, Good Technology, etc. He mentioned this during his talk at YC startup class. You can see the whole talk here: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec09/
- Facebook: “Making the world more open and connected”, (which was changed to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together” in 2017)
- AirBnB: “The mission is to live in this world where one day you can feel like you’re home anywhere and not in a home, but truly home, where you belong”
- Youtube: “To become the primary outlet of user-generated video content on the Internet, and to allow anyone to upload, share, and browse this content.”
Another technique you can use if from 500 startups: Ato help [target customer] with [#1 problem] by [#1 benefit] using our [secret sauce/differentiator]. I think this is good for early stage startups (seed funding) as it allows the founders to write the purpose of the startups’ existence clearly.
One of the rule that I repeat to every one of my client when it comes tagline or vision statement is to be clear. If there’s a choice between being clever and being clearer, always go with clearer. No jargons and no puns. It’s can get confusing, really confusing. If you can’t articulate your startup’s vision in a clear, concise and easily understandable manner, your problems run deeper than just a pitch deck.
Your media mentions and accolades: This is a hook in action. By showing that you have been featured in major publications or you have been accepted into a prestigious accelerator is a way to show social proof to your investors. Also, it increases the anticipation and excitement of the investor to look through your slides.
Prepared by: This part is to show the investors that it is prepared (and will be presented) by the founder of the startup. This is important especially in the early period of your startup. If you have a good reputation within your industry, it’s important to mention your name in the cover slide. If it’s a fairly new startup but you have been in the industry for a while, it’s actually good to mention your name as the investor would have seen you speak at an event or met you in a meet and greet.
Date: It’s important to always keep your deck updated. By adding the date to the cover slide, it shows that it has been updated to the latest numbers and gives the illusion that you haven’t been raising for a long time.
Your domain: This is another hook. Many investors will normally want to see your product, platform or app before they get to your deck. By including your domain there, you are providing a way for them to click the domain link to get to your product immediately. (if you are curious about this, next time include a trackable link (eg. bit.ly) in the domain text and see how many use it. Based on my experience, 2 out 5 investors will click it).
The fine print: If you are including any information that is considered a secret or sensitive, include the fine print in every slide as it allows you to see who shared it. Mention the investor’s name as you will get to thank the investor for forwarding to another investor, or in worst case scenario, sue the investor in the case the deck lands on your competitors hands.