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With Nadav Steinmatz

Building a Pitch Deck That Stands Out From the Crowd

In our current economic environment, many startups are finding it harder to raise the capital they need, and a well-crafted pitch deck has never played more of a pivotal role. To stand a chance of getting a meeting, yours needs to be both comprehensive and compelling. But with so much conflicting advice out there - and when investors only spend a few minutes looking at each one - how can you be sure your deck will attract attention?

Nadav Steinmetz is founder and CEO of climate tech fund Nomea, supporting businesses that are accelerating the transition to net zero. He’s seen a lot of pitch decks in his time as an investor, so we sat down with him to hear some tips that will elevate your pitch deck above the rest and catch the eye of VCs.

Less is more

Although you might think stuffing your deck with data helps you weave a convincing narrative, at an early stage, a lot of this information won’t actually be relevant. The purpose of your deck isn’t to tell your company’s entire story in detail or preemptively answer every question an investor might have - its only job is to evoke excitement and get you that pivotal first meeting.

Be concise and coherent. You should be able to sum up the key message of every slide in one line - if you can’t, it needs more refining. Hire a designer to make the deck as visually appealing and distinct as possible. Charts, graphs, and images will bring your story to life, but data can’t replace storytelling, so avoid relying on it too much.

One unique way to leverage multimedia content is by adding a link to a very short - one to two minutes - video. This can be especially helpful to capture the investor’s interest if you’re a deep tech or hardware startup, as you can talk them through your product, allowing them to visualize and better understand what you're doing. Creative, boundary-pushing additions like this will help you stand out, while still hitting all the fundamental elements of the pitch deck.

Put your team at the center of the story

The team slide is the most important part of your pitch deck, and every investor will have a different opinion about where it should go, whether it be the beginning or the end. But if your deck has a clear narrative flow, positioning the slide should feel natural. Maybe you open with a showcase of your team’s experience, and then talk about how your qualifications meant you were uniquely able to identify a problem. Or you explain the problem first, which leads to your solution, followed by a discussion of how you’re the perfect team to bring it to market. The order you choose isn’t important, as long as it tells a compelling story that makes narrative sense.

The slide itself should feature four or five people, with a focus on your founding team and executive leadership. Again, less is more - try to outline in one sentence why these people have the qualifications, knowledge, and capabilities to deliver on this mission. If you’re going to highlight your advisors on the slide, be aware that investors might approach them for a reference.

Don’t oversell yourself

It goes without saying that investors are eager to invest in bold and visionary founders. But commercializing your technology won’t be easy, so you’ll need to convey a balance between ambition and realism to show you recognize the challenges ahead.

One way of achieving this is by including two or three risks or obstacles your business faces in your deck. Get some outside perspectives on this, since as a founder, you might find it hard to see the big picture when you’re in the trenches everyday. Your deck should then address how you plan to mitigate these issues, but don’t downplay the difficulty of overcoming them. This might feel counterintuitive when you’re trying to convince the investor of the value of your company, but all businesses face hurdles. The right investor will appreciate your honesty - and if they do come onboard, they’ll help you solve them.

Another way to prevent overselling is to avoid claiming you have zero competition - this just isn’t going to be true in 99% of cases, and will look like you haven’t done your homework. Acknowledging your competitors instead shows you understand the wider market and gives you an opportunity to emphasize your advantages. But be respectful, not disparaging - a lack of humility will be a red flag for many investors.

Don’t pull numbers from thin air

Steinmetz argues that founders raising a pre-seed round may want to hold off on including a financial model or exit slide in their pitch deck. This is because at this early stage, there are so many unknowns and external factors at play that financial projections are incredibly hard to estimate, and investors recognize this. What they’ll be much more interested in is your roadmap for commercialization, which will include getting out of the lab if you’re developing hardware or deep tech.

But if you are calculating a forward-looking number to present to investors, don’t just make up something that sounds impressive. Start by finding out what their expectations usually are for a company of your type and what the trajectory typically is. Find a middle ground between the moonshot expectation and what you could achieve with very limited resources to find a defensible number that rests on rational assumptions.

Drill deep into your market

Don’t just claim you’re tackling a massive problem with a $500 billion market, but be nuanced and thoughtful. Rather than solely talking about the total addressable market, think about your serviceable addressable market (the segment you can acquire through your business model) and your serviceable obtainable market (the segment you can realistically capture).

And, as a climate startup, you’ll need to take this a step further, because a key element of your pitch concerns the decarbonization potential of your technology, and how that might drive adoption and market entry. It’s crucial that you bring in the climate narrative in conversations about segmentation and market positioning.

Nadav Steinmetz is an early stage climate tech investor based in London, UK. He is the Founder and CEO of Nomea, a climate tech fund that invests in breakthrough climate innovations. He is also a Founding Partner at Climate First, a climate tech accelerator that supports exceptional early stage companies in Israel to scale globally and reduce emissions. He serves as an advisor and mentor to numerous companies and sits on the board of a number of nonprofit organizations. Nadav holds a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from Columbia University.

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