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How to pitch your cannabis start-up in 10 slides

That’s all it takes to nail your story – no more, no less.

5 min

Perfecting your pitch can be essential to securing funding for your cannabis business. The best tool for this is a pitch deck that concisely communicates the problem you are trying to solve and the value your product or service adds. 

Your pitch deck is the storyboard for your business. If you want to convince someone to offer financing, give them a vision and story that they can resonate with. Investors typically use a pitch deck to initially assess the potential of a company and often refer back to it when they perform due diligence. Do not expect to receive a term sheet from an investor who memorizes what you do or relies on their notes alone. In addition, don’t expect a term sheet soon after you present your pitch deck—the deck is simply a starting point for further due diligence, and should be used to introduce the company, vision, business model and team.

Your pitch deck also shouldn’t be overly complicated. It might seem counterintuitive, but you should be able to tell your story in 10 slides—no more, no less. It should highlight what makes your company special while leaving intricate details to the Q&A and diligence process. Here’s an example of how you can organize your deck, although your content might differ depending on the exact nature of your business.

1. Simply introduce your business

Describe what your company does in simple language and focus on the problem you’re looking to solve. Minimizing buzzwords is important throughout the deck, but it’s especially important in this first slide. Keep this statement short and clear, leaving investors with a lasting impression of your business.

These formulas can get you started:

  • [Name of company] helps [type of audience] to [problem you’re solving]

  • [Name of company] is a [type of company] focused on [problem you’re solving].

  • [Name of company] offers [benefit of your product / service] to [type of audience and the problem they face].

2. Demonstrate market size

Demonstrate your company’s potential to scale. Use proof points to define how large your market may be and how fast it expects to grow. Market intelligence companies like Headset* offer cannabis-specific data, while firms such as Nielsen and CB Insights offer market sizing data for multiple industries.

3. Define the problem

Define the pain point your company is trying to solve and for whom. Try to be as specific as possible. Describe how you discovered the problem and offer data supporting its urgency, magnitude, and value. Convince investors that there is a fundamental market need for your product or service. 

Examples include:

  • The Canadian market is saturated with high-priced, low quality cannabis products. There is an opportunity for a low-cost leader that can capture substantial market share.

  • It is difficult for brands to find shelf-space due to the time, effort, and cost associated with making hundreds of calls to retailers. This can be solved using our B2B e-commerce platform.

4. Frame your product or service as a solution

Position your product or service as the solution to the pain points you identified and review key features and benefits. Highlight your value proposition and the areas where you have a competitive advantage. Focus on the sustainable competitive advantage of the product or service your company is selling. Answer the ‘so what?’ question by outlining what makes your company special. 

5. Demonstrate your product or service

Entrepreneurs often start with this slide first, but it may be better suited for the middle of the pitch deck. Give investors a clear understanding of how your product or service works. Cannabis retailers and producers can offer virtual tours, CPG brands can share product photography and customer reviews, while software firms can share user experience demos. Keep it short (five minutes is good) and let investors touch and feel the product for themselves, where possible. Focus on using data (testimonials and surveys, for example) to demonstrate how your product creates value and solves the problem for your customers.

6. Set your company apart from the competition

Distinguish your product or service from your competitors by describing what you do differently. You should be prepared to explain how you create barriers to entry. Though you might be the only product or service solving your problem in the market now, competitors may eventually emerge. Be honest about who your competitors are, what they do well, and areas where you can succeed.

7. Measure customer adoption / traction

Share the key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure your traction. Examples can include monthly recurring revenue and customer acquisition costs. Outline your path to achieving profitability—even better if you can realistically project hockey stick growth.

8. Highlight your team

An idea is worthless without a proper team to execute it. Many VCs like to invest in people rather than ideas alone. Introduce your management team and describe what makes them capable of executing your vision, be it through their unique skill set, prior success, or domain expertise. 

9. Include financial projections

Crunch numbers for the next three to five years and show where your company is headed. Investors tend to ask the following:

  • How fast are revenues growing, and how do these figures align with your product roadmap and marketing spend?

  • What is your cash burn and expected runway?

  • What is the break-even point for your company?

10. Describe what you aim to achieve with the financing

Explain the purpose of your fundraising ask and how it ties to key outcomes. A timeline or roadmap can help you articulate certain milestones you plan to achieve in the near- and long-term.

Appendix/backup slides 

Include anything the first ten slides may have omitted and use this material to support your answers in the Q&A session. Only refer to these slides if a question relates to them. Otherwise, let the potential investor read this on their own time, or leave it out until you get asked in diligence.

That’s it: 10 slides about your company’s past, present and future. It is a logical story that may motivate investors to fund your cannabis business.

Extracts

  • Your cannabis pitch deck should use concise language, define the problem you are trying to solve, and be specific about what makes your company special.
  • You should be able to tell your story in 10 slides—no more, no less.

*Disclosure: Headset has an investment relationship with Canopy Rivers, owner and operator of The Rise

This is not an offer to sell or a recommendation to trade in securities. This content may contain forward-looking information and/or data from third parties and is subject to limitations as discussed under The Rise's Terms of Use. Forward-looking information is based on assumptions that may be incorrect and is subject to risks, including those set out in Canopy Rivers' AIF and MD&A available at www.SEDAR.com. The views expressed above are those of The Rise’s editor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Canopy Rivers. Readers should not place undue reliance on this content.