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Pitch Perfect With Nasir Zubairi

Before you have the opportunity to sit down and convince an investor or VC about your amazing business idea, you have to introduce your business to them, maybe on stage at an event or via email.. Enter The Pitch Deck. It is the moment to activate the potential investor’s taste buds and leave them wanting more.

You hover over ‘Send’, one click away from launching your itch deck into the inbox of someone who could provide the much needed capital to help drive the future of your business.

This person could be one of “40 Innovators Shaping the Future of Financial Services”. Perhaps a business mentor at Level39, the largest tech incubator in Europe. A serial entrepreneur or an advisor to the Luxembourg Government on FinTech strategy. Maybe an investor who used to be Venture Partner at Berlin-based FinLeap?

Now imagine it’s all of the above! Well, then it’s before the discerning eyes of Nasir Zubairi. With 20 years of experience on both sides of the pitch deck, as well as hundreds of pitches landing on his desk every year, he is pretty much ‘on the money’ when it comes to recognizing potential. Nasir admits that he has become increasingly demanding when it comes to pitch deck standards, so we decided to find out some of what it takes to make this pitch connoisseur sit up and take notice.

A foot in the door

Like a CV, a pitch deck is a foot in the door. It’s where you provide just enough information to generate interest and, above all, excitement. It’s not the place to tell investors everything; it’s just about getting them excited. A big part of getting a pitch deck right depends on understanding where it fits in the investment process alongside an understanding of the person you are selling to. In short, learn the process of selling. Research the target investor, find out what they are interested in, what they are looking for. Tailor the content of the pitch deck specifically for them.

Once upon a startup…

Storytelling is central to every pitch. Stories resonate and impart emotion. It is essential to pull emotionally, not just logically. You need to make investors empathize with your customers’ pain. Use pictures to strike at emotions. Structure the story so that it flows. Sotrytelling makes the pitch deck more interesting and stand out.

Team Spirit

At the early stages of a startup, the investor is putting a lot of faith in people – the team members with their smarts and execution capabilities. A great idea and a lousy team just won’t cut it. An average idea, however, can sell if the team knows what they’re doing. The next slide after your big-mission-statement slide should introduce your team. Investors will want to know what level of experience and expertise they are looking at.

Practicalities

The process of pitch is relatively straightforward:
– Write down the story.
– Get feedback and edit the story.
– Construct the pitch deck.
– Get lots of feedback, edit and finalise the deck.

Ensure the pitch is not text heavy, focus on key information – for example, its not necessary to provide full financial tables at this stage, just highlights. Avoid buzzwords, industry specific/technical language – write for a 12/13 year to understand the story.. The pitch should be clear.in what the service/product is, what problem it solves/pain it alleviates, how you will let the customer know about your service/product, why they will choose to use your service/product, how you will make money and how much it will cost to acquire the customer.

Be the investor

When preparing your pitch, imagine you are the investor. Keep in mind the fact that investors want minimal risk. It means you need to consider operational risks, team risks, legal risks, financial risks and marketing risks, for example, and then ask yourself: “How can I mitigate these risks for investors?”

(Note: “This interview with Nasir Zubairi took place just a few days before he was appointed CEO of the LHoFT (Luxembourg House of Financial Technology). Silicon wishes him all the best in his new challenge!” A.S.)

This article was first published in SILICON

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