Raising Equity Capital? Pitch Deck RecommendationsMay 31, 2019
By: Robert Sargent, Tennant Risk Services
Pitch decks are important for raising equity capital, and a good pitch deck can get key investors interested, maybe even committed. Explaining your strategy and company, along with the investment structure, in a clear, compelling and concise manner can make the difference. (However, a great pitch deck cannot overcome a bad investment opportunity.)
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a short set of slides (PowerPoint, for example) that communicate your organization’s story to a potential investor. Short is the operative word, with most experts recommending 8-12 slides. A pitch decks is used to give a potential investor basic information to determine whether there might be enough interest and fit to have a meeting with the founder. Then the deck is used as the basis for an in-person presentation to the investor. Detailed information is often communicated to the investor through Q&A, provision of supporting information and the PPM.
Why might this be important to an insurance agent or broker?
- You are raising capital for your new/startup agency. Raising outside capital can accelerate growth and fund systems and key employees, like producers.
- You are raising capital to make an acquisition or hire a team. Debt is the primary source of acquisition funding today, but lenders may look for a larger capital base to reduce leverage, necessitating the need for equity capital.
- You may want to fully engage a key advisor or strategic partner, who brings more than capital, to drive business opportunity and growth.
- Your client, or potential client, may be raising capital, and your assistance may be valuable.
For larger deals, an investment banker will develop the pitch deck and PPM, and provide access to investors. These days, venture capital is more focused on A round financing and seed stage deals are funded by angel networks and friends & family. Insurance is different from tech in that there is very little venture funding available for traditional insurance distribution – larger deals are financed with debt and/or private equity (leaving insurtech aside). Insurance distribution deals, both startups and early stage growth, must utilize angel and friends & family networks with no investment banker involved. Founders are left with the challenge of developing their own pitch decks, supporting data and PPM without the requisite experience.
It is hard for founders to effectively communicate a startup business with a pitch deck. A lot has been written on the science and art of pitch decks (see links below), and there are different approaches. However, the themes are consistent: clear, compelling and concise. The template below is a basic starting point with a few specific recommendations for insurance deals. Keep in mind that an investor will want to know:
- The concept – does it make sense?
- Is it a good opportunity, and why can it be successful?
- Are the people right?
- Can it generate cash?
- Can the team & company execute?
- Revenue & EBITDA projections
- Where is the risk, i.e. what can go wrong?
Slide 1: Title
Slide 2: Confidentiality, Legal Disclaimers
Slide 3: What is It
- Overview/summary – provide clarity on what you are doing
- Should be done in bullets; essentially 2-3 sentences worth to start the conversation
- Why someone might want to give you their money
Slide 4: Need, and why you will be successful
- Why there is a need – brief
- How do you fit into the market, particularly vs competition
- For insurance: how you get & keep clients, and where will the business be placed
- Why you can make it go
- How you will generate huge revenue growth
- What does success look like, how is it measured (metrics)
- Specialization: why your focus or specialization is a competitive advantage
Slide 5: People
- Who are the key people
- Why you/they can make this work
- Have you done it before? If yes, say this w/ some level of detail
Slide 6: Sales
- Who are the customers
- How is the company going to generate revenue
Slide 7: Execution
- How can the company execute the plan & deliver the product/service
- Explain staffing & strategic partnerships
- Accounting, compliance & systems resources – investors want to know there are no shortcuts
Slide 8: Financial Projections
- Overview only, not detail, usually 5 years
- Key questions:
- Cash burn & timing of breakeven (may need monthly/quarterly to breakeven)
- Buildup of revenues & EBITDA
- Are the projections reasonable
- Note – investors will want to see the backup, typically a very detailed spreadsheet, at a later date
Slide 9: Capital Need
- How much is needed
- What security (equity, convertible preferred, etc) & key terms
- What will the money be used for
- What is the valuation (pre-money)
- Governance & Legal
Slide 10: Exit
- Exit timing & potential buyers
- What are the revenues & EBITDA at that point?
- What might a valuation look like (investors can apply multiples to the numbers)
- Each deal is different, so each pitch deck will be different. Use good judgement in knowing when to add slides for specific characteristics of your deal
- It might save time to develop and edit content in a word doc, then drop into a PowerPoint or other presentation program.
- Put the deck in a pdf (not ppt) before sending to any investor
- Most of the content will be bullets, not sentences
- You will be explaining what is on the slides, so only key points are needed
- The objective is to trigger interest & questions
What to Avoid
- Too many words, font too small – keep it simple and the font can be large
- Too much info – get to the point
- Disintermediation – Nobody in insurance distribution likes the word “disintermediation”, and selling is harder than everyone thinks. Retail insurance agents do the heavy lifting every day, and provide significant value to everyone in the insurance industry.
- Technology – that will change the world or save the day
- Google, Amazon, etc can do this, mere mortals (in insurance) cannot
- Don’t claim it until after it happens, unlikely to occur in insurance in any case
- Generating cash is more important than changing the world
- Lack of focus on breakeven
- Investors need to know how the company will reach breakeven, and when, and from this the resulting cash burn
- There are plenty of great concepts that need endless amounts of cash; nobody should invest in these
- A solution without a problem
- The product/service must meet a real need, and prospers in a competitive market
- In insurance, there doesn’t have to be a “problem”, just a competitive product & a combined less than 100, well delivered.
- Addressing all the great ideas/opportunities
- Successful startups need focus to get to breakeven. Doing too many different things is distracting and takes (a lot) more cash, typically more than what was raised, & more time to breakeven.
- Investors want breakeven & success as soon as possible
Some links that might be helpful are included below. Keep in mind that a tech raise is very different from insurance, so adjust some of the comments for the insurance businesses.
- How to Create A Great Investor Pitch Deck for Startups Seeking Financing – Forbes
- Scavenger Hunt: What to Look for In A Pitch Deck – Seraf
- How to Pitch Your Startup to a Venture Capitalist – Wharton
- How to Pitch a VC – 500
- Pitching an Investor? This Is Exactly How Many Slides You Should Have in Your Pitch Deck – Inc.
- Don’t Pitch A Venture Capitalist Without This Checklist – Forbes
- The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch – Guy Kawasaki
- 30 Legendary Startup Pitch Decks and What You Can Learn from Them – Piktochart
Tennant Risk Services, a division of Worldwide Facilities, delivers expertise, markets and exemplary services to our retail insurance agent clients in the placement of professional liability and specialty insurance (E&O, D&O, EPL, Cyber Risk, Specialty). We are experts in professional liability insurance (E&O, D&O, EPL, Cyber), and excel at hard to place accounts.