Presented by the New England Medical Innovation Center (NEMIC) & Advance-CTR
So you have a great idea for a new technology, or even better, you’re already deep into the research and development process. With a little financial backing, your idea could become a reality and change healthcare as we know it. That’s the dream, but there’s a big gap between developing a technology in the lab or clinic, and successfully fundraising for a medical technology startup.
In the startup world, this is called “bridging the valley of death,” where great technologies stall during the development phase. Yes, you have a life-changing technology; but, do you have an IP strategy, a go-to-market strategy, regulatory path, investable team, and fundraising strategy?
The first step to avoiding the valley is creating a rock-solid pitch deck.
Your pitch deck will help you clearly and concisely communicate who you are, what your business or innovation is, and why your solution is the only one that matters. Think of your pitch deck as an organizational tool to build your business around your technology and get it investor-ready.
This guide will be useful to any investigator who is interested in commercialization and entrepreneurship, regardless of the stage your idea or technology is in. Your pitch deck may be the most important tool in your arsenal, and here we’ll show you how to do it.
After working through the key elements below, you’ll be able to anticipate investors’ questions, assuage any doubts, and attract support and investment for your innovation. Let’s get started.
A perfect pitch deck must include the following components:
After we go through each of these elements, we'll show you an example pitch deck to help get you started.
The perfect pitch deck starts with an executive summary that very clearly states what your business is about. Your executive summary should fit on one slide and include your logo, tagline, and contact information. The tagline should explain your business and begin to differentiate it.
Remember: The goal of this presentation is to describe the business opportunity and lay out a strategy to advance the technology toward business and clinical goals.
Next, you’ll begin to lay the groundwork for why investors should care about, and invest in, your technology. Answer the following questions:
What is the unsolved problem or need?
Who has the problem? Define your core customer and their attributes
How serious is it? Define metrics in terms of magnitude, frequency, and criticality
How have the alternative offerings failed to meet the need?
Why has the problem not been solved until now?
With the problem clearly established, pivot to an illustration of what it looks like in real life through an example or story. This approach takes the problem out of the hypothetical and shows investors what the real-world stakes are, as well as the potential for impact. Use this story as a through-line in your presentation. This makes it easier for investors to follow along and helps your key points resonate.
Remember: Your pitch is likely the first time your audience is learning about your technology. Using a story allows investors to more quickly understand how your technology affects patients/users in the real world versus just focusing on the technology’s capabilities.
Now it’s time to drive your point home. Here you’ll connect all of the dots you’ve put forth by showing investors why your technology is the right solution to the problem you’ve identified. Make sure you:
Describe your product or service
Explain what it does and how it works
Explain how it fits within the users’ environment
Show any proof of concept that has been achieved (Prototype? Beta?)
Show any proof of efficacy that you have
Step back for a moment. How does your technology fit into the bigger picture? Do so by answering these questions:
What is the general market trend?
What is the total market size?
What is the addressable market size in terms of dollars or market share?
Who is the target market for whom the value proposition is truly compelling and obvious at product introduction?
By this point, investors will already be thinking about this. Be prepared to show how your solution is better, faster, or cheaper than the existing solutions for your customer. Think of this in terms of cost savings and how it drives revenue or customer acquisition.
You’ll also want to address the defensibility of the market share and price/margins. Seraf explains this nicely from an investor’s point of view:
“It is very important to look at company growth forecasts in the context of the overall growth of the market. It is not uncommon for companies to give you projections that have them owning ridiculous amounts of market share. Every market is different, and some newer markets will grow much faster than more mature markets, so you need to look at the plan and understand what the revenue forecasts imply. Put another way, it is great that a company says they are doubling every year, but if their market share would actually be shrinking over the same period, that has some pretty major implications.
"Likewise, if that doubling growth rate implies that they are going to be going from 20% to 60% to 80% market share, you might want to dig a little deeper into the projections. It pays to keep in mind that the faster your company projects it can grow, the more likely that is going to be an attractive market into which new forms of competition will flow. And it won’t always be companies just like yours — it will often be much deeper pocketed companies who suddenly wake up to the strategic importance of the market and are not only able, but happy to subsidize their solution to gain share quickly. In short, market conditions are like the weather — they can change quickly.” (Seraf, 2019)
Finally, follow your defense with a list of current and prospective competitors, and an explanation of how the market is changing — customer, pricing, competition, new technology, etc. — and why.
Market conditions are like the weather — they can change quickly.
New innovations often have long or complicated paths to obtaining regulatory approval, and your investors will want to know what lies ahead. Get ahead of their questions by coming prepared to answer the following:
What is the general regulatory path?
What is your regulatory strategy?
Who do you have on your team with experience in obtaining approval?
What are the roadblocks or risks?
What is the relationship of path to exit timing with the regulatory requirements?
Having a strong IP position and strategy will convince investors that the margins of your business won’t be squeezed by competitive or environmental factors (Seraf, 2019). Be prepared to tell investors:
Where your current IP position is: Defense (freedom to operate) vs. Offense (enforceability)
Freedom to operate is the minimum you need to protect yourself and freely operate/develop your product
Taking the offensive means that you have applied or have been granted coverage through a patent or application
Whether you’ve obtained a provisional application vs. a granted patent
Your patent strategy
The quality and status of the existing portfolio
Why should investors go all in on your technology over something else? How unique is your solution? What is still needed to deliver your technology solution? What are the competing technologies and what is their commercialization status?
Your audience may like your technology, but where do they go from here? Share your product road map and include key milestones to show investors what they can anticipate. This should include:
Customer acquisition progress
Finally, what are the milestones and challenges beyond the technology itself (key hires, for example). How will you overcome these challenges and/or weaknesses?
Who are investors investing in? Show an organizational chart of your management team.
If you’re launching a startup company, who’s on your board of directors or board of advisors?
List any customers, key experience, or prior successes of your team members.
Show that the team you’ve assembled is balanced and cohesive.
How will you run your business? Outline your customer base, pricing, top line growth and assumptions, and Earning Before Interest & Taxes (EBIT) trend.
How much cash will you be bringing in, and how much do you anticipate needing to spend monthly? How much time and investment dollars will you need to reach your milestones? What round of funding are you currently in, and what is the timing? What will you use the proceeds for?
Tip: This is most easily shown by using a financial projection graph.
When you talk about your exit strategy, keep your audience in mind. The exit is where investors see their return. Think about what makes the most sense for your business. How long until you’re liquid? Which makes sense for you -- an initial public offering (IPO), merger or acquisition (M&A), licensing, or something else? If you think you’ll go the M&A route, who are your potential acquirers? Make sure you talk about the characteristics of the acquirer and the rationale behind the acquisition.
If you can, show an example of a similarly situated company that recently cashed out. What was the valuation?
Conclude by keeping the momentum going. Walk through the activities you are planning up ahead.
Be sure to include an appendix for your audiences’ reference. This should include executive and key personnel bios, as well as information related to technical expertise including publications and specifications, i.e whitepapers and any supporting documentation.
Tip: Each time you are asked a question that you wish you had supporting information for, add a slide with that information to your appendix. There is a good chance that you will be asked the question again in future presentations.
Now that you have the essential components of a perfect pitch deck, it’s time to begin crafting your own. Start by referencing Labonachip, LLC, a successful startup out of URI that pioneered the world’s first in-vitro diagnostic platform for multi-step, enzyme-linked immunoassays.
The process of putting together an investable pitch deck may seem like a daunting process. We hope that this guide will provide a solid foundation on which to begin thinking about all the components you will need to build your startup and begin fundraising.
The New England Medical Innovation Center (NEMIC) is a not-for-profit Med Tech Venture Studio located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. They support local, regional, and global Med Tech entrepreneurs and startups on their path to commercialization through education, individualized programs, events, networking, and a collaborative innovation center. Founded by Managing Partners Aidan Petrie and Lydia Shin Schroter in late 2017, NEMIC has more than 100 years of combined medical device development and entrepreneurial experience. But what makes their work so impactful is their extensive network of local expert advisors and subject matter experts who simplify clinical access, regulatory (FDA) strategy/pathways, and ultimately facilitate connections between early-stage startups and funding sources. Learn more about NEMIC on nemicenter.com.
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