Skip to main content

Tips on Preparing your Application Deck

Reminder about Judging Criteria

Judges for the Innotribe Startup Challenge, including executives from financial institutions, entrepreneurs, investors and the media) will evaluate and score your application pitch decks based on the following criteria:

  • Novelty/Innovation: Does this product/service present a new and novel approach to solve a recognizable problem for the financial industry?
  • Market Potential: Is the market a big macro opportunity, and does the company have a scalable business model?
  • Commercial Viability: Does the company have evidence of strong execution, defensible competitive advantage(s) and market traction?
  • Team: Does the team have the talent and expertise required to realize the opportunity?

Judges will have a variety of perspectives (e.g. bankers looking for partners consider different criteria than early-stage investors) so we strongly recommend you craft your presentation to present the facts of your company’s current situation, including clear indicators of your traction (see note on Traction in Preparing your Presentation below).

Information to Include in your Application Deck

Here are sample questions you should consider when preparing your Application Deck.

Novelty/Innovation:

  • Customer/Market Problem: Who are your target customer(s) and what problem(s) are you solving for them? If this is an existing problem, how do your target customers solve it today? If it’s a new or emerging problem, why is it arising now? Please be as specific as possible, and if you have data to back up your assertion, you may include it.
  • Solution: At a high or conceptual level, how will you solve the target customer/market problem(s)? What are the key features of your solution? Why is your approach novel/innovative? Why will your customers think you are different & better than the alternatives?

Market Potential: 

  • Market Opportunity: How big is your market opportunity? How much money do your target customers spend today on solving the problem you defined? How many potential customers are there? In what geographies or market segment(s)?
  • Business Model: How will you make money and why will your model scale? How will you acquire and qualify customers? What will you charge them for? What are the costs of delivering your products & servicing your customers? How will the model evolve over time?

Commercial Viability:

  • Execution: What evidence, do you have that your team is executing well? For example: Is your product/technology complete? How effectively are you iterating on the questions in your business model? Are any necessary supplier relationships in place? How have you addressed any key risks?
  • Traction: What evidence, other than funding, do you have that your business is gaining customer and market acceptance? For example: How fast is your user/customer adoption growing? Which distribution partners, if any, have you secured? What is your revenue growth? Have you achieved profitability? How much of the potential market are you already serving? Over what period of time did you gain this traction? How fast are you growing?
  • Competitive Advantages: Why do (or why will) your customers think you are different & better than the competition? What assets (relationships, IP, etc) have you already built that sets you apart from your competition? Over time, how will you maintain and/or grow your advantage?
  • Funding: What external funding have you received, including funding from the team, angels, VCs, incubators &/or grants.

Team: 

  • Core Team: Who is on your core team? What are their roles? What relevant background do they have?
  • Additional Team Information: Is there any additional information that will help too qualify your team. e.g. relevant advisors or board member, previous start-ups or accomplishments the team achieved together.

Preparing your Application Pitch Deck

You may prepare your pitch in any way you see fit, however you need to provide sufficient information for our judges to conduct a thorough evaluation. The kind of pitch deck you would prepare as a 'leave-behind' for an investor or analyst meeting is a good model to use. Additionally, we strongly recommend:

  • Include no more than 10-15 slides in your core presentation, though you can attach screenshots or other backup materials at the end of your deck.
  • Do not use animations, transitions or video. Your presentations will be rendered in PDF format for the judges regardless of whether you upload PowerPoint or PDF files.
  • Include all relevant content on the slides themselves, not in notes pages. We recommend that for the deck you do not include type smaller than 18 point.

Below are some tips to help you make a compelling deck. 

Use a tested pitch format. Below is a sample outline (credit to Dave McClure of 500Startups) that many successful startup presentations follow. It covers all the critical data points and provides a good framework for telling a good story, and so is suitable for describing an innovative offering from a more mature company as well.

  1. Introduction & High-Level Pitch
  2. The Problem
  3. Your Solution (incl: screen/product shot)
  4. Market Size
  5. Business Model (including traction)
  6. Proprietary Tech/Expertise
  7. Competition
  8. Marketing Plan (go to market, including traction)
  9. Team (key players & size)
  10. Money / Milestones (finish with the ask)

Dave’s deck explains the content for each of these slides (interwoven with slides for a sample company called “ZapMeals”). There are some good sample pitches here (drag the timeline to the following times to see specific pitches: 10:00 – InternMatch, 15:20 – SpoonDate, 21:00 – Punchd, 26:20 – Rewardli, 33:25 – Visual.ly, 40:30 – Wednesdays, 46:20 – YongoPal, 52:25 – Ninua, 1:04:19 – Baydin, 1:11:10 – SpeakerGram

A Note about Traction:We strongly recommend you present the kind of market traction your company is generating in whatever terms are most relevant for your company and its stage (e.g. traffic, users, customers, revenue, etc). This blog post provides some good guidance on presenting your traction.

Present the facts and cut the rest. The following facts are crucial to include in your presentation: The overall market size for your product today; a list of competitors and differentiators; your basic business model (licensing fee, subscription, one-time fees, revenue share etc.); how much funding you’ve raised (if any); names of key team members and their micro-bios.

Almost everything else (e.g. how your technology works) is a distraction. A trick that often helps entrepreneurs decide what to keep and what to cut is to remember you are giving a short advertisement for your business. Any good advertisement attracts qualified potential customers/investors/partners (and invites them to talk to you to learn more) and repels those who are not qualified (and would ultimately waste your time).

Show, don’t tell.  If you have a product, show it on your solution slides. Remember, the audience doesn’t know your product nearly as well as you do, so showcase the “wow” factor, but don’t expect them to understand it and don’t try to do a deep dive about how it works.

Tell a story. Your application will need to stand out from dozens or hundreds of others. The best company pitches (whether live or in slides) tell stories that engage the audience. The basic story line for any innovation begins with the fact that your target customers have a problem, and your startup is the hero of the story, coming to the rescue. Here is a good blog post on storyboarding your pitch deck.