We’ve delved into investment communications several times, such as specifying how cleantech companies can ensure their proposition is understood by investors or explaining why a powerful brand is vital to securing funds. We wanted to take a step back and look at a fundamental yet central aspect of investor communications for our latest blog. Read on for insights and advice for crafting a compelling cleantech pitch deck.
Lead with your vision
A company’s vision is its unique view of the world, where it wants the business to get to in the future and what makes it stand out from the crowd. Finding and communicating your USP and value proposition is significant for cleantech companies, which are operating in an already crowded yet ever-expanding marketplace.
Opening your pitch deck with your vision will quickly establish your distinctive perspective, plus give investors an idea of the opportunity at hand. Additionally, throughout your pitch deck – in fact across all your marketing and communications material – you should frequently link back to your ‘why’ to reflect and reinforce your company’s identity.
One business from outside cleantech that successfully leads with its vision is the online travel marketplace Airbnb. In its own words, the company ‘exists to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.’ Airbnb has done a great job framing its value proposition and has also ensured it stays current as the company grows. Initially positioned as a cheaper alternative to hotels, Airbnb has become an experience-driven, mainstream organisation known throughout the world.
Highlight your people
Another aspect of your business that should prominently feature in your pitch deck, which is also connected to your vision, is your team. Investors buy into the people that make up a business, so you should ensure your C-suite’s experience and relevant skills are included in your pitch deck.
However, companies can and should go one step further than simply adding their board’s career history and expertise to their pitch decks. For example, portraits and group photos of the team that are consistent in style should also be included. This will help reflect the chemistry and cohesion of the team, plus show that the company has made an effort to make the pitch deck visually appealing. You’d be amazed how many companies get this wrong, especially in cleantech, as many of the pitch decks we see are missing details about the people behind the business.
Relate your technology to the real world
It’s a well-known fact that cleantech companies often have complex technologies. Perhaps it’s due to this intricacy that the majority feel they need to explain their technology as thoroughly as possible in pitch decks, usually by including anywhere between 5-10 slides about every aspect of it. While information about the processes involved is useful, businesses should aim to be streamlined and only include details that prospective investors will find relevant and exciting.
Yet, it’s not just information overload that cleantech companies get wrong when presenting their technology in pitch decks. Often, they fail to take the technology up a level and explain its contribution and impact in the real world. One way they can successfully achieve this is by including use cases of their technology in action on real-life projects.
Include case studies
Case studies are a fantastic means of illustrating your technology and its applications in a way that everyone can understand. Yet, they are incredibly underused by cleantech companies, despite the fact they are a very targeted and niche-specific method of communications and therefore perfect for describing complex technologies.
Including case studies in your pitch deck removes the need for static slides on business and revenue models, plus target audiences. That’s because when written well, case studies should explain all of these areas without having to be so literal. A word of warning, however – writing case studies is a time-intensive process that can take weeks or even months. Gathering information, the writing itself, plus securing all the necessary approvals can take a while, so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to formulate case studies when planning your pitch deck.
Don’t forget the numbers
However, your pitch deck shouldn’t give the impression that it’s just nice words and pretty pictures. It also needs substance and credibility, which is why you should definitely include tangible facts, figures and numbers relating specifically to your company. You must use only the most relevant data rather than including anything and everything. Plus, remember to be specific to your business rather than using generic statistics about the industry you operate in.
It’s easy to be bland or safe when presenting data in pitch decks. To stand out from the crowd, get creative and show your facts and figures in a visually exciting way. Venn diagrams, bubble charts and concept maps are just three inventive and fresh ways to display data relating to business plans, financial models and technology.