Pitch Deck Pitfalls – To Get Investor Meetings, Avoid These Common Errors

17 Aug

By Lucy Parkinson, Director of Research, LSN

The LSN team reviews a lot of pitch decks on behalf of our clients, and we also hear many investor responses to startup presentations. We therefore have a unique window into what catches an investor’s eye, and what makes them lose interest. In this article, we’ll take a look at some common mistakes we’ve seen recently.


Tell Your Story

It’s all too easy to fill a deck with information on your science and the market but not have any unifying message that brings this information together. A deck is much more likely to get you a meeting if it tells a cohesive story. What motivated you to start this company? What goal is your company working towards? How did your fellow founders get involved? The answers to these simple questions can build your deck’s story and convince an investor to take a meeting. Remember, investors allocate to people rather than to assets – they need to know what your vision is and why you believe in this company. If you do this right, the investor will begin to believe in your company too.

It’s Not A Science Presentation

We often see pitch decks that are laden with graphs, data and images from preclinical studies. Often, these decks are produced by career scientists who have much more experience in presenting at scientific conferences than in marketing a startup to investors.

It’s important to remember that the purpose of a deck is first and foremost to get an investor interested in meeting with you. Every slide should have some important information that you and the investor can then discuss in more depth if there’s an interest. So for example, your slide might briefly summarize the results of your study or state that you found a positive result, then in conversation with the investor you could share these results in more depth if the investor wanted to see them.

Remember that life science investors, even if they’re not scientific experts personally, have access to expert reviewers who will assess your scientific case in great detail if the investor is interested in your company. Neither the deck nor the meeting has to make that deep scientific case for your startup.

Don’t Forget To Talk Business

Some pitch decks devote a lot of space to demonstrating why the scientists believe that their product will successfully demonstrate safety and efficacy in humans, but reserve little space for talking about the business that the product will power. Be realistic about the investor’s motivation: return on capital. Investors will want to know that you’re looking at the competitive landscape for your product, how your product will compete with the current standard of care (or any late-stage assets that might become a new standard of care), and how many patients your product can reach.

Don’t Miss The Exit

Investors will also be focused on how/when your company might be able to exit. Show the investors some comparable companies that IPOed or were acquired recently. In our experience, early stage biotechs benefit from starting discussions with strategic partners as early as possible – how are you positioning the product to such partners to align with their pipeline needs?

Don’t Lose Focus

Early stage biotech companies are often formed around several assets, either related via an underlying platform or created by the same scientist or academic institution. Many new entrepreneurs therefore assume that investors will be interested in the breadth of their portfolio as an opportunity to get several “shots on goal”. However, our experience is that investors generally prefer to see a clear focus on 1 or at most 2 highly promising lead programs. It is useful to mention that you have other assets as well – many strong pitch decks include a ‘Pipeline’ slide that shows all the company’s assets and the stage of development that they’ve reached – but investors primarily value the company according to the development of a lead program.

If you’re interested in getting some feedback on your deck and your investor outreach campaign, we’d be happy to provide a free consultation – you can find more details here.

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