Fundraising Guide P.3 Deck the Halls | The Art of Pitch Storytelling
Part 3 of our guide with Amrit Richmond and Indie CPG to help F&B brands raise capital in 2023. In this guide, you'll find resources for deck design & sharing, thought-provoking questions on your reasoning to raise capital, discussions on the purpose of a pitch deck and some key slides you might want to include, and tips on repurposing slides for other projects.
What’s in Part 3 of Our Fundraising Guide
Resources for Deck Design & Sharing
Why Are You Fundraising? Why Now?
Purpose of a Pitch Deck & Key Slides to Include
Repurposing Slides for Other Projects
Resources for Deck Design & Sharing
- Canva (for designing a deck, they have dozens of customizable templates)
- DocSend (get insights into who is viewing the deck and slides they spend the most time on)
- Communities like Indie CPG, CPG House, and Startup CPG (ask fellow founders for feedback on each of your pitches on a call or direct message)
Why Are You Fundraising? Why Now?
At the end of 2022, funds pulled back on new investments and focused on existing portfolio companies. This is to de-risk their current investments and to wait to see how the market does in early 2023. In addition to a stellar pitch deck, be honest with investors (and yourself) about WHY you’re raising capital. Are you raising to Start, Scale, Save or Sell your brand?
For pre-revenue brands, over-index on your team’s story, unfair advantages, early feedback from consumers or foodservice accounts, market size/landscape, and your collective understanding of unit economics, the Shopify ecosystem, and/or what your go-to-market plan and retail strategy is depending on your distribution priorities.
Pre-launch or Pre-seed
At this stage, you have more vision than traction, especially if you are pre-revenue when raising your first round of outside capital. You will need to convince investors to invest in YOU if your product hasn’t launched yet, so over-index on your team’s story, unfair advantages, early feedback from consumers or foodservice accounts if available, market size/landscape (with legit data to back it up), and your team’s collective understanding of unit economics, the Shopify ecosystem, and/or what your go-to-market plan and retail strategy is depending on your distribution priorities.
If you’re raising in this category in 2023, focus on revenue as much as possible before pitching investors alongside telling a compelling story about your product market fit. Common ways to show PMF are high retail velocities, low subscription churn rate on Shopify, five-star reviews, and wholesale purchase orders that increase in size.
If you aren’t in retail already, your deck should show a clear path to expand into wholesale channels. Your velocities should be high, subscription churn low, and an innovative pipeline of ideas for platforming into new products with this new capital.
We saw an increase in Bridge Rounds being raised behind the scenes in 2022 to help extend runway to the next round. These were raised both by high-growth brands that grew faster than expected since their last raise, as well as to save a brand from running out of cash - see below for more insights. Be sure to clearly communicate which situation you’re in as some VCs get concerned when they hear the word Bridge.
By now your brand has proven product market fit and is sold nationally at top natural stores and big box retailers. This infusion of capital should be used for staying on the shelf, expanding into new channels like mainstream c-stores, foodservice or sports stadiums, partnering with celebrities, mainstream media (like TV commercials), international expansion - maybe to Canada or Europe, and continuing to launch new products all in pursuit of becoming a household name. This is likely your last, or second to last, round of funding before a buyout or acquisition.
Equity vs. Debt
At Ampla, we like to say that a debt solution should always sit alongside equity capital, as you don't want your equity capital tied up in inventory buys or other spends that take a long time to convert to cash. Read more of our insights on Equity vs. Debt for brands.
To Save the Business
If you’re raising a Bridge to avoid running out of runway very soon, prepare to be told no more times than usual and potentially be presented with unfavorable deal terms. In this situation, it’s even more important to communicate your strong team and existing distribution and be 1,000% transparent about what got you into this situation and how you’re better positioned now to avoid it happening again - like a supply chain hiccup.
Pivot / Restructuring
De-risk the pivot by securing distribution for the new direction. Ideally, you can stay on the shelf with your existing retailers and open new wholesale opportunities because of a price reduction or more mass-appeal packaging in your pivot plan.
Positioning to Sell in 1-3 Years
For high-growth brands raising $20m+ or with $30m+ in ARR, an exit is likely on your mind. Your roadmap and priorities are similar to when raising Growth Equity (see above), but now you need a larger budget to work backward from an exit in the near future. Your deck should include a detailed exit strategy and understanding of your potential buyers and how you plan to connect with them if you haven’t already.
Restructure to Sell
Similar to the importance of telling a strong team story at the pre-seed stage, when you’re restructuring a brand to sell it, investors want to have extra confidence you have a leadership team in place to make this happen. There’s more at stake at this stage with a larger check size, especially if this isn’t their first check into your brand. Beyond your team, build confidence quickly by showing you’ve cut underperforming SKUs, a plan for a rebrand, and any product changes that put you on a path to an exit.
Purpose of a Pitch Deck
Sometimes a deck helps an investor prepare for a meeting with you, and sometimes it’s the deciding factor IF they want to meet you based on your growth potential and alignment with the thesis and stages of investment they focus on. It’s also an important element when asking for introductions to investors for your friend to share in an intro request.
A CPG pitch deck should illustrate your vision, traction, momentum, timeline, products & unit economics, sales pipeline, financials, future innovation, use of funds, team leaders/advisors/investors, market landscape, customer personas, exit strategy, and founder(s) story. Additionally, because of the competitive fundraising climate we’re in, consider adding a slide at the beginning to communicate your team is Resilient, Resourceful & Responsible.
Key Slides to Include
Feel free to rearrange the order of slides below, combine some, or omit a few, but keep in mind that you need to quickly communicate more traction than vision in the first half of the deck if you want that VC meeting! For pre-seed rounds, omit slides that you don’t have data for yet. You can also choose which slides to send as a preview PDF to specific investors before you schedule a meeting with them to gauge their interest. Update your deck accordingly when you receive insightful feedback from investors, advisors, and friends.
Why are you in business, and when did you launch? What’s your mission and north star that inspires your team? What problem are you solving for customers? Pair this story with your market size and how your product improves people’s lives, with data to match. This slide should include a photo of your products to show how your vision became a reality.
Total number of doors you sell in and sales to date across top retailers, eCommerce, foodservice, and any third-party marketplaces with a chart showing which channels drive the most revenue. Per Rodeo CPG’s advice, highlight your velocities (units/sku/store/week) in your top retailers on this slide.
Wins in the last 1-6 months, like retailer launches, new products, collaborations that sold out, mainstream PR, or viral social posts. If your brand is pre-launch or in the earliest stages, a large waitlist or private community you’ve built to sell future products to can be mentioned here as their sign-up indicated interest in your brand.
Everything major that your brand has accomplished since launch to show off your growth trajectory and resiliency. You’ve come so far and haven’t given up on your vision, make sure investors understand the trajectory of your company, both in product launches and high-level sales on this slide. Your timeline should also hint that you haven’t waited for permission from investors to grow your brand.
5. Products & Unit Economics
Overview of your SKUs and their value props (no need to show every flavor if the pictures are so small that they are unreadable) with MSRP, COGs, and Gross Margins. If you sell DTC too, include your CAC, # of Subscribers, Retention vs. Churn Rate, and LTV.
If you have any proprietary methods or ingredients that create a moat around your brand, mention them on this slide too. If you have a unique business model (ex: where/how you sell products), mention it here, otherwise, investors will assume your consumer product is sold DTC and/or retail with traditional wholesale economics.
6. Sales Pipeline
This slide should communicate what’s next for you in retail in the next 1-2 years. Design a simple chart showing retailers you are already on shelf with, which have samples, which you’ve pitched and are actively being considered for their category, and which retailers you plan to pitch once you achieve your 2023 sales goals. Be sure to indicate if your current retail partners are a Test, Local, Regional, or National. It’s always important to be honest in a pitch deck, but especially on this slide! A retailer you cold-emailed or sent samples to is not a yes yet, just like an investor with your deck isn’t a yes until the term sheet is signed.
Remind the VC about your sales to date, COGs, and Gross Margins again, and introduce new data about your monthly sales (MRR), burn rate, and projected annual sales (ARR) based on historical sales data and confirmed retail launches. Burn rate can be easily communicated in a pie chart by company department/spend area.
8. Future Innovation
What’s upcoming that you’ve conducted preliminary R&D on? What’s in your plan for a few years out when you platform your brand into new grocery aisles?
9. Use of Funds
How much are you raising, at what valuation, and what do you plan to use this new round of capital for tied to milestones? Ex: Inventory and meeting demand from new retailers, trade spend to stay on shelf, R&D, finalizing a pivot, hiring new senior leaders or buying a factory. This slide can also include an overview of any capital you previously raised.
10. Team Leaders, Advisors, Investors
You should have at least 1/3 of these before raising capital to show you have an extended team to help grow the brand beyond your founders. If applicable, show photos of your advisors and angels and a few keywords about how they support you, and logos of any existing investors’ funds. If any of your vendors have equity, consider adding them on this slide too.
11. Market Landscape
Why is your brand positioned to win in a crowded market and competitive grocery aisle? Leverage the data you compiled when you built a market landscape from Part 2 of our fundraising guide. This slide should be very visual with logos or product photos of your competitors, from indie brands to Big CPGs, and how your brand is differentiated across taste, price, nutritionals, quality, marketing (your unfair ability as a founder to speak to your target audience), and customer experience - like being easier to buy and use.
12. Customer Personas
Who are your customers, and how do you engage with them? What is their age, where do they live and shop, and how do you know you’re building products they want long-term? If your product is made for consumers on a diet or with allergies, mention it here. How do your customer insights create an unfair advantage for your R&D and marketing teams?
13. Exit Strategy
a. With logos or product photos, show historical acquisitions in your market with deal prices when available. Also include aligned buyers who haven’t acquired a brand like yours yet, as many corporations are looking to diversify their product portfolios vs. acquire threats.
b. This slide isn’t necessary to include for pre-launch and pre-seed rounds.
14. Founder(s) Story
a. Lastly, it’s time to tell YOUR story about what you and your co-founder(s) accomplished before starting your brand. Why are you one of the best teams in your aisle? This is also a perfect slide to remind VCs what inspired you to start the brand in the first place. Maybe you have a personal connection to the product, or you worked in a parallel industry and wanted to create a healthier version of something consumers already eat. Or maybe you didn’t work in CPG previously, but your past life is an unfair advantage as a founder. Ex: you worked in marketing or finance and save money by doing those services yourself.
b. For live pitches or when introducing yourself to an investor over email, summarize this slide so they instantly know you are a strong leader and expert in your market.
Optional Slide: Resilient, Resourceful & Responsible Team
Ideally, this slide speaks to your leadership approach and how you’ve solved major roadblocks across product, supply chain, and distribution regulations. This is different from the slide about your Founder(s) Story with highlights of your team’s background, as this is about the challenges you’ve overcome since launching your business.
In 2023, VC funds want to invest in strong teams that can weather a storm, so make this part of their diligence easier on them. You can also pull in data highlights from other slides on this slide, like sales to date, MRR, and recent retail launches.
- Resilient - Think about a time since 2020 when you resolved a supply chain hiccup or overcame a challenge, like having no choice but to change vendors ASAP so you could meet an inventory deadline. How did you respond? How will you respond the next time it happens?
- Resourceful - Maybe you were able to reduce COGs by switching packaging, renegotiating terms with suppliers and vendors, paying your agency or co-man partially in equity, or removing a precious element of your product that wasn’t necessary. Any unfair advantages your team has (including your senior operators) are perfect to mention on this slide as well.
- For example, if someone on your team worked at a Big CPG brand in your grocery aisle, if you manage your own manufacturing to better control inventory, or if your ingredients are extremely affordable because they are upcycled.
- Responsible - More than ever, investors want to know you will know how to spend their money in responsible ways in pursuit of profitability. Mention how you’re capital efficient and strategically scrappy, like any cutbacks on unnecessary spending to extend runway, underperforming SKUs you discontinued, any significant overhead changes you made in 2022, or how you save $XX a year by bringing key services in-house. If you’ve only been in business 1-2 years, mention any relevant past work experiences that highlight how you’ve managed a prior business or budgets as a leader at another company, or how you managed your pre-seed/seed capital responsibly.
Repurposing Slides For Other Projects
We know fundraising is a huge time commitment and preparing the deck is a large part of the process before you start pitching investors. Hopefully, you didn’t have to create all of those slides above from scratch! Here are some clever ways to repurpose these slides and data for other priorities at your brand in 2023 across sales, marketing, and internal meetings.
Sales - Slides about your vision, traction, sales pipeline, and product innovation are perfect for virtual meetings with retail buyers. Retailers have more in common with VC funds than you might think as they are also looking for strong teams with traction to partner with in the next 1-2 years.
Marketing - Slides about vision, sales pipeline, and product innovation help your team plan for content, campaigns, and partnerships to open new retailers and bring new SKUs to market.
Internal Meetings - Consider giving your entire team an update on your progress to date and what’s upcoming in 2023 to give them confidence they are working for a strong brand.