What to include in your life sciences company fundraising pitch deck

beakers and glassware on a laboratory bench

The actual pitch deck you use when pitching investors probably won’t matter quite as much as the delivery of your fundraising pitch. Still, creating that deck is a critical part of the process. It doesn’t just give you an opportunity to put together data points into something easy to digest. It gives you a chance to structure your thoughts and your presentation ahead of time.

For life sciences, this might be a little more tricky. You can find a lot of tech startup pitch decks online, but your business might have some additional challenges on top of that. There will be a lot of overlap in the basics, and you still want to cover all your bases.

Here are some things you should consider either including in your pitch deck, or preparing as part of the presentation.

Your life sciences company overview

  • What does your product, and your company, actually do. Talk about the physical (or digital) thing that shows up in the hands of your customer. What does it do for them? How do they interact with it? What’s unique about it compared to other products in the market? Even if it’s a piece of software, it still ends up on someone’s screen.
  • Identify the pain points. Put the investors in the shoes of a customer and help explain why they need a product like yours.
  • Identify your customer. This may sound straightforward, but you want to be as detailed as possible. Are you starting with a narrow customer base, or creating a broad product that can touch many different demographics? What are the needs of that customer? What do they look like? How do you think about customers beyond the obvious ones?
  • Talk about some additional benefits your product generates. If you collect data, what does that data allow you to do? Can it help you expand into new markets? Does it just help improve the product? Could the data itself turn into a second line of business?
  • Talk about your mission. The mission statement and the vision statement might actually be two different things. Think about what it is you are dedicated to doing, but also what you want to achieve ten years from now. Talk about how you’re going to attain that mission. You can touch on the origin story to help explain the point.
  • Lay out barriers to entry and how you will overcome them. You have to show why you’ll be able to get past larger incumbents and why you are uniquely positioned to do that. You’ll also need to cover any additional risks you might run into along the way.
  • Lay out key advantages and IP. If you’re working in the life sciences field, there’s a good chance intellectual property’s going to be a piece of the puzzle. Talk about patents you own, how you got them, and how important they are to your business. How much of a competitive advantage do they offer, and how much of an asset are they?

Your business model and operations

  • Dig into the mechanics. Lay out your core technology and what makes it superior to others on the market. Show early feedback on prototypes if you have them. If you’re more mature, show some results: studies, evidence of how effective it is, and research that backs up your claims.
  • The value proposition. You want to show how you’re going to actually create value. This may differ between early-stage and later-stage companies.

    • Early-stage: Have a deep competitive market analysis to provide some reference points. List out recent exits, M&A, funding rounds, earnings releases, and as much data as you can collect that provides some directional accuracy for your future value.
    • Later-stage: You’ll still want to do the same as above, but you’ve probably reached the point where you are listing out more of your raw metrics. Show the ways you’re on a path to profitability.
  • Pathway through regulation. Talk about how long it will take to get your product to the market, and what hurdles you’ll have to get through. Include any regulatory routes you have to take, and how long it will take to get approved — as well as any curveballs that might come up.
  • Dig into the metrics. If you have them in front of you, lay them out as clearly as you can. There’s a whole laundry list of things you can dig into, but if you want to show how much your growth costs, these are a good place to start:

    • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): How are you acquiring customers, and how much does it cost to acquire a customer?
    • Lifetime Value (LTV): How much revenue are you generating from that customer you acquired.
    • Churn: How do you define the rate at which customers are leaving, and what is that rate?
    • Licensing: If you license your technology, talk about the terms and any revenue or fees.
    • Projections: You’ll want to lay out (reasonable) projections for your revenue for the next few years or so to show you’re on a solid path to growth.
  • Walk through your costs and key requirements. This is especially important if you’re a life sciences company, because you have to show you are able to keep your operational costs under control — which will likely be a lot higher than your typical software startup investors are evaluating.

    • Supply chain: if you’re producing anything physical, or you need a regular supply of equipment, do you have the correct vendors in place? Walk through some of the large-volume supplies you need to manage and how you’ll keep your costs down — for both your operations and for your customers.
    • Partnerships: you’ve probably decided to cooperate with a few companies that are producing a kind of win-win situation. This can take a lot of forms, such as relationships with suppliers or vendors that you can amplify to a broader audience.

Your life sciences team

  • Lay out who’s on your team. Include their backgrounds, and why those backgrounds are important. If someone has a Ph. D. in biology, you’ll probably want to highlight that. Show the characteristics of your team that will highlight why you’re uniquely suited to this problem.
  • Talk about advisors and board members. Collecting a solid group of advisors and board members, much like employees, shows you can get smart people excited about the idea. High-profile board members and advisors can be a stamp of approval and show you’ve identified your holes in expertise.
  • Identify who’s missing. Investors are going to spot holes in your expertise and want to know that you’re thinking about how to fill those holes. Touch on recruiting and how big you want your team to grow.

Again, these are just a few things that can show up on a slideshow. But your slideshow is still just that. It might have some very detailed infographics and information, but it’s not a replacement for enthusiasm and passion. Investors are making a huge bet on you, just like you are taking a huge risk starting the company. As you’re putting together all this information, think to yourself how you’ll structure the conversation and the questions investors might ask.

You have to show you believe in the mission enough yourself that you’re willing to carry it out — and sometimes that’s not easy. Being a great presenter isn’t a skill that comes naturally to a lot of people, and it takes practice. It’s a difficult and sometimes annoying part of the whole starting-a-company-from-scratch process, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be.

Photo credit: Hans Reniers on Unsplash

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