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How to Build a Fundraising Deck

Newsletter published on:
February 17, 2022
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Article By: Alex Norman, Partner at N49P Ventures, TechTO Co-Founder, and AngelList Canadian Partner

This is the first post in a series in which we will review typical slides that founders include in a pre-seed or seed deck. The goal of these posts is to challenge conventional wisdom on how to construct these sides and help founders use these slides to demonstrate knowledge of their business. One caveat - there is not one way to raise a round and these recommendations may or may not help you.

For the first post in this series, we are going to focus on the slide that everyone hates but feels compelled to include - The Competitors Slide.  

The traditional approach to the competitor slide

Most founders feel compelled to show this page for two reasons:

1. Every founder has heard that if there is no competition there is most likely no market.

2. By not including known competitors in their deck, founders worry they will come across as naive or not knowledgeable about their market

This results in one of two versions of a competitor slide which address the two points above but don’t add any credibility into why this is a team or startup to back.

I am sure that everyone reading this post has seen these slides:

  • The 2x2 matrix competitor slide: This slide lays out the industry along two axes and the start-up is always located in the upper right hand corner to demonstrate why they are the company ready to conquer the industry.  

    The best in-class version of this page will include some non technology competitors (e.g excel; pen and paper).  

*photo is an example*

competitor slide 1
  • The features competitor slide: This slide has several competitors on the first row of the slide with a list of features in the first column. It shows that only the start-up checks all the required features.

Why the traditional approach isn’t great

The problem with both of these approaches is:

  • Are the axes or features you have chosen relevant? My guess is if you asked the incumbents you are comparing yourself to they would pick different axes or features. This is ok, but you should be using this slide to explain why the axes or features you have chosen are relevant to your ideal customer and why it is hard for the incumbents to copy you.

  • Customers don’t buy features, they buy solutions. Why does your unique combination of features satisfy an un-met need for your ideal customers?

  • Has someone tried your approach before? If so, why didn’t they succeed? Why is this the right time to take this approach?

Using the competitor slide to explain your positioning

How do you have a better impact with the Competitor Slide?

Think of the competitor slide as a way to explain your unique positioning in the market. Ideally you can use the slide to explain why your positioning is important for a subset of customers, why the incumbents can’t or don’t want to take a similar positioning and, if possible, why this positioning is important now.

There is not one way to do this but you can use the title of the slide, the clustering of the competitors and a few bullet points to demonstrate the depth of understanding without doing a talk over.

*photo is an example*

competitor slide photo 2

The way to adjust the feature version of the competitor slide is by explaining how your group of features creates a unique solution for your ideal customer slide.

How this will impact your deck

Using the competitor slide to better explain your positioning is not easy and you will most likely need to iterate on the slide several times prior to making it work.

The benefit is that a potential investor will better understand your positioning and why it makes sense. More importantly, it will demonstrate the depth of your knowledge and thinking about your startup, and reinforce the fact that you are the right team to build this business.

Alex is an entrepreneur and tech community builder, helping to build Canadian tech communities across the country through events, connections, advice, and investment.

Connect with him on social to chat about all things Canadian Tech!

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