Pitch Perfectly: The Art of the Pitch Deck

Do you think you have the next big idea? Great! Unfortunately, so does everyone else. That said, how do you make your ideas stand apart?

With more and more businesses competing for funding, the pitch deck has become an instrumental term in the vocabulary of any great entrepreneur. A pitch deck is a short presentation, typically created through PowerPoint, that provides an overview of a startup’s business plan. An entrepreneur’s pitch is often his or her first interaction with an investor, so a strong deck of slides is key in creating a good first impression. In fact, the art of the pitch is so important, that organizations on Cornell’s campus like Life Changing Labs host pitch competitions on campus that offer cash prizes where the delivery and formatting of the pitch are often considered to be more important than its content.

What can you do to create an effective pitch deck? Entrepreneurship@Dyson has you covered. Check out our top 3 tips below:

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: The importance of a network

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, states Joy Kuebler, founder of Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect PC (JKLA), as she discusses getting through a rough patch in her business. The idea of networking and the value of a strong network is constantly brought up in business and entrepreneurship classes, but hearing stories from successful entrepreneurs adds color to the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people.

The Importance of Investment

In 2014, the number of new enterprises joining the United States economy skyrocketed by roughly 11% relative to the previous year. In other words, approximately 569,000 aspiring entrepreneurs had their “ah-ha” business moment in 2014.

While this dramatic increase reveals promising signs for the U.S. economy, it triggers a quintessential problem posed by the scarcity of resources that all of these entrepreneurs will face. Simply put, if there is a fixed quantity of money to be supplied by investors to help grow your business, how can you secure funding with so many new businesses creating more competition?

Is Entrepreneurship an Innate Talent or a Learned Skill?

As a student studying entrepreneurship, at a university with a thriving entrepreneurial program, writing for a publication sponsored by an entrepreneurship education program, I believe entrepreneurship can be taught. That being said, the debate on whether entrepreneurship is a learned skill or an innate talent is a highly debated issue and successful entrepreneurs take both sides of the debate.

Building a Founding Team

Finding a co-founder and building out a founding team is one of the most difficult and important tasks any startup faces. The founders will set the culture for the entire company and their skills must complement each other. Additionally, they must have strong working relationships and be able to interact positively with each other. When bringing on a co-founder or two, there are many aspects to consider, including size of the team, the relationship between each member, and the skills and roles each person brings.

The Value of Failure

Failure comes in many forms; it’s the reaction to this failure that ends up defining a company. Failure can cause minor changes to a startup, redefine a startup, or bring an end to a startup. Failure is also the reason the most successful start-ups are able to take on the world.

Finding and Knowing Your Customers

Understanding your customers is key to the success of any business. What makes customer research particularly interesting for a startup is you can be unsure of who your customers actually are or should be and the market you are entering may be very young with limited information.