How long should startup founders be planning to design a pitch deck once they have been able to validate their business model?
Crafting a great pitch deck can make all the difference in your startup getting the chance to prove itself and having an impact, or not. However, it is vital going in to know how long it should take to design one.
Why It's So Important To Know
You need to have a reasonable handle on the time you need for a wide variety of reasons.
You need to be able to plan effectively to avoid stress and produce a good deck. You don't want your team to lose faith in you or your advisors to lose faith in you. You also don't want to lose the little credibility you had with the investors you worked so hard to line up to pitch. You need to know so you can begin an accurate countdown to your fundraising campaign and line up everything else together.
You need to know the time demand of this project so you are realistic about how much of a distraction and bite it is going to be - from actually working on your business and making sales happen.
You need to know so that you give yourself enough time, but also are able to call yourself out and your team when it is dragging on and precious time is being burned. You need to be able to budget accurately for labor.
How Long Does It Take To Create A Pitch Deck?
The short answer is about 2-4 weeks. Probably much less than creating a business plan as it is more visually oriented.
This number doesn't include your initial market and competitive research, which should have been done before you decided this was a viable business idea to pursue.
If you are taking the DIY route, and have all the information and data and copy ready to plug in, you can whip up a basic pitch deck in about 3 to 8 hours. You can do it yourself right in Google Slides or PowerPoint.
If your needs and tastes are more complex, then you can expect to spend at least 40 labor hours on it, or more. This can stretch out even further if you are outsourcing various elements to people you've never worked with before.
If you find yourself spending months on a pitch deck, stop. There is something wrong. You either need to hand it off to someone else, just start using it, or go back to the drawing board and refine your idea before you begin messing around with creating a deck.
Of course, as with everything in life and business, it's probably going to take longer and be more expensive than you think. So, build in a little time and financial cushion.
You can also get a great head start by using a proven pitch deck template.
What Takes So Much Time?
Choosing your team
You may want a specialist team to come in and handle various parts of your pitch deck before you kickstart your startup fundraising efforts. Some may stay on as part of your marketing team. Others won't. Think freelance designers, copywriters, etc.
Writing the specs and delegating
It is going to take far fewer hours and flow much more smoothly if you take the time to write out the specs for what you want and delegate well. Use some type of collaboration tool in the cloud or project management software. Then get out of the way and empower your team to make it awesome.
Make sure you have all of your data together. Make sure the statistics are fresh. Be sure you've run new searches on competitors and what they are raising, and at what valuations. You don't want to get called out by investors for out of date numbers.
Sourcing & Editing Images
If you are going to include images, make sure they look great, and you have the rights to use them. You don't want to run a fundraising campaign on stolen images. Make sure you have an image editor who can make it flawless.
Designing The Slides
From the fonts to making it pretty, you may want a designer to polish your work and make it look amazing. Don't get too carried away, what you say on the slides is most important. There are some now very big startups that started out with very basic and ugly decks. Though, first impressions do mean a lot.
Reviews & Feedback From Advisors
You always want a second opinion and fresh pair of eyes to look at your work, preview it, make sure it makes sense, and to catch glaring mistakes you aren't noticing. It should be simple enough that any grandmother can get it. Though, getting input from fundraising advisors and consultants who know exactly what investors want and need to give you a yes is hyper valuable.
It's smart to already have them on retainer or have given them some equity and have them standing by to review and make recommendations. Otherwise you can be stuck for weeks on this step.
Once you've compiled your feedback, you need to make final changes before you show it to the world.
Rehearsing Your Pitch & Presentation
Test it. Be sure you've rehearsed, if you will be presenting online or live in person. It should be natural and smooth. Even if you are only emailing it and sharing it via email or in the cloud, make sure you test and everything is working perfectly. Or, you may not get another chance.
Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and the author of The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by 'Shark Tank' star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley & Sons, the book was named one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The book offers a step-by-step guide to today's way of raising money for entrepreneurs.
Most recently, Alejandro built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online.
Prior to CoFoundersLab, Alejandro worked as a lawyer at King & Spalding where he was involved in one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history ($113 billion at stake).
Alejandro is an active speaker and has given guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business, Columbia Business School, and at NYU Stern School of Business.
Alejandro has been involved with the JOBS Act since inception and was invited to the White House and the US House of Representatives to provide his stands on the new regulatory changes concerning fundraising online.