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Startup Pitch Deck – A Detailed Guide With 10 Must-Have Slides and 5 Great Examples
Persuading investors is not only about relationship building and communication. Getting your point across also requires a compelling presentation.
To make the most out of your fundraising meeting, you should come equipped with a well-crafted pitch deck. It’s your best tool for getting potential investors excited about your concept and sparking constructive conversations around it.
The aim of this article is to provide an ultimate guide on how to craft an effective and compelling pitch deck presentation and make a lasting impression on your audience. So if you’re looking to create a winning investor pitch deck for your startup, look no further – we’ve done plenty of research for you.
The first part of this guide will focus on theory – on defining what a startup pitch deck is, helping you conceptualize its design, and listing general rules for making one.
Then, we’ll proceed with outlining the 10 key slides every investor presentation should have, where we’ll provide you with more practical tips on how to outline and present your pitch deck.
And, to make our guide definitive, we’ll end with 5 examples of highly successful pitch decks presented by companies you’ve surely heard of.
In this article:
What is a Startup Pitch Deck?
A startup pitch deck is a visual representation of your business, typically in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. A crucial tool for securing investment, a good pitch deck will illustrate the problem you plan to solve, establish your target market, and highlight your unique selling point in 25 slides or less.
It should also include an overview of your direct competition, a summary of your financials, and, at the end, a specific investment ask. However, besides being essential when raising capital, a pitch deck can also be used for winning the support of other kinds of stakeholders: advisors, mentors, and potential partners. Depending on their preference, it can be presented in person or sent by e-mail.
#1 When do you need a startup pitch deck?
You should start preparing your pitch deck pretty much as soon as you decide to seek funding for your startup.
It is essential for when you want to attract investors, gain partnerships, or even receive mentorship.
#2 Who should be responsible for creating a startup pitch deck?
In theory, it is the company founder or the CEO that is responsible for making a pitch deck. However, in reality it is a more collaborative effort, shared between the entire team.
Engaging your staff is especially important because a cohesive team is exactly what your investors will want to see. You want to clearly demonstrate that you know how to hire people that are competent and aligned with your vision.
To create a winning pitch deck, it’s important to strike a balance between introducing your company, presenting hard data, and making yourself stand out from the crowd. Sounds difficult? Now try doing all that in less than 20 slides. COO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
Before you make a startup pitch deck
In this section, we’ll explore the most important aspects to consider before you get into the nitty-gritty of actually designing your startup pitch deck. Spending some time on them will not only help you create a better presentation but should also give you the confidence to answer all questions coming from your investors.
#1 Should you be raising money?
Before you start making a pitch deck, you need to consider whether you can or even should raise money in the first place.
To determine whether your company is VC-investable, it’s crucial to understand venture capital and where that money comes from. Most importantly, you need to assess whether your company has the potential to be of interest to venture capitalists. You need to have a clear understanding of your business model, your target market, and your potential revenue streams. You should also have a plan for how you will use the funds you raised.
You should look at funding rounds as a means of minimizing risk for your startup. To build real value, each round of funding should aim to reduce risk.
That said, perhaps you should try self-funding first? Maybe bootstrapping and postponing external investments until later is the way to go. Bootstrapping can help you avoid tensions that usually come with partnering up with investors. At the beginning, you’ll probably want to focus on establishing your brand, while investors typically seek to quickly maximize potential revenue. Bootstrapping will provide you with more freedom and independence, and increase your chances of getting a good investment offer down the road.
#2 Understand the investor’s perspective
They say that if you want to catch a fish, you have to think like a fish.
To create a compelling pitch deck, you need to learn how to look at things from the investor’s perspective.
All that the VC’s want to know comes down to whether their investment will yield a return. You should aim to show them that what you’ve got is viable and scalable. But even more importantly, you need to be prepared to answer detailed questions about your business model.
There’s really no way around it – in order to get funding, you have to demonstrate a deep understanding of your industry.
#3 Think the structure and content of your pitch deck through
Outlining your pitch deck’s structure and content will immensely help with the writing process.
Consider the length, flow, and key messages that you want to convey. Define your target audience and tailor your pitch deck to the specific investor or group of them. Researching their investment portfolios is always a good idea.
#4 Understand your marketing metrics
Investors want to see that you have a clear understanding of your target market and the metrics that drive it.
You need to present in-depth knowledge about your customer acquisition costs, lifetime value, and other critical metrics that will demonstrate your ability to scale your business.
4 general best practices of startup pitch deck design
Regardless of your pitch deck’s structure and the form your presentation will eventually take, there are a few general guidelines you should follow.
We rounded them up into 4 rules that you should follow.
#1 Stick with only what’s necessary
Your pitch deck must be focused and concise.
As a rule of thumb, a pitch deck should consist of approximately 20–25 slides. This, of course, can vary based on the content you wish to present, but in general, try to keep it short.
When competing for your audience’s attention, a lengthy presentation can be difficult to focus on. A concise and punchy pitch deck is more likely to be memorable and successful.
You should only include information that is necessary for communicating the essence of your business idea. Avoid adding unnecessary details and data that detract from the main message.
#2 Choose clean and legible fonts.
Your pitch deck has to be easy to read.
Use clean and legible fonts that are easy on the eyes. Avoid fancy or ornate fonts that will distract the audience from your message. Instead choose presentation fonts such as Verdana, Georgia, or Montserrat. Ensure that your font size is at least 24 points.
Limit yourself to using a maximum of 2-3 fonts. Having too many can be distracting and confusing.
In general, your choice of fonts should be something that remains largely unnoticed.
#3 Pick a visually impactful color scheme
You want your pitch deck to be visually appealing and highly memorable.
Choose a color scheme that is consistent with your branding and communicates the message you want to convey. Pick colors that complement each other and are easy on the eyes.
Colors can have significant impact on your audience. Researching color psychology is a good idea, as it will help you gain a deeper understanding of how we associate colors with activities and emotions.
#4 Prioritize your pitch deck copy
That being said, it is the copy that is your pitch deck’s most important part.
Make sure that your copy is clear, concise, and easy to read. Avoid using jargon or buzzwords that are confusing or misleading. Instead, use plain language that will be easy to understand for everyone.
Your copy should also be well-structured and organized, with each section clearly labeled with an appropriate heading.
Remember to go back and edit multiple times. With each iteration, your copy will get more punchy and concise.
You can use the 5 x 5 x 5 rule:
- Five lines of text per slide.
- Five words per line.
- Five text-heavy slides in a row.
10 tips for your 10 key pitch deck slides
In every good pitch deck, there is a set of key slides that provide a comprehensive overview of the business and make a compelling case for investment.
We have identified 10 essential slides that every winning pitch deck should have. By incorporating them, you will increase your chances of success and assure your investors of your know-how and high attention to detail.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the details on how to create 10 key slides of a winning pitch deck.
#1 Introduction: who you are and what makes you unique
Your pitch deck should begin with a brief introduction that will establish who you are and what makes you unique.
The way in which you open your presentation is extremely important. This is what can make or break your case, significantly impacting the rest of your pitch.
This section should provide a brief overview of your business, including your mission, your vision, and your values. Here you will also include information about your team, their experience, and their field of expertise.
Also, don’t forget to set up your company brand identification. Showcase your logo, colors, fonts, and icons.
#2 The problem
The next section of your pitch deck should present the problem you want to solve. This is where you want to provide a clear-cut explanation of the issue that your product or service is addressing.
In this slide, include a clear overview of the problem, highlight its significance, and explain why it is worth solving. Also, you should showcase the individuals or groups that are affected by it, and outline the current methods being used to address it.
The goal here is to demonstrate that your solution (which you haven’t even touched upon yet) will address a pressing need or a widespread problem, and that it has potential for generating revenue.
By highlighting the reality and relatability of the problem, you can enhance the investors’ understanding of your business concept and goals.
#3 Market size and opportunity
After describing the problem, you should focus on the opportunity that lies in solving it, and on the market that already operates around that opportunity.
This section must provide an overview of the size of your target market, its estimated growth, and your target audience, along with a profile of your ideal customer. You should explain why your business is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the opportunity you’ve identified.
You want to present how the market is expected to grow, and how you plan on growing alongside it.
Stick to hard data and concrete numbers. You should aim to provide investors with essential and quantifiable information that will help them understand the landscape. Investors will be interested in seeing that you have a specific and attainable market.
Remember, the more precise you are, the more realistic your idea will seem.
It’s a good idea to use visual aids such as graphs and charts to illustrate your point. Visuals will make your data more appealing to everyone.
#4 The solution and your demo
In the solution section of your pitch deck you must aim to explain how your business will address the problem you have previously identified.
Here, you have the opportunity to demonstrate how your product or service works, the way in which it is uniquely positioned to solve the problems you’ve outlined, and how your customers can benefit from it. It’s important to discuss both the features and benefits of your solution.
This section should focus on the value proposition of your product or service and explain why it is better than that of your competitors. However, you must remember not to overwhelm your audience and highlight the top 3-4 features.
A good tip here is to focus on your customers and the benefits you can provide them with, rather than solely on the product itself.
You can use a demo to showcase your product, but only if it adds value to your pitch. Showing is often more effective than telling, and you can consider including videos or animations to help illustrate your solution in action.
#5 Business and revenue model
It’s imperative that your pitch deck includes a section dedicated to your business and revenue model.
This is where you demonstrate how your business will make money and what your revenue streams will be. You should provide details on pricing, your marketing strategy, customer acquisition and retention, customer numbers, and their spending habits. It’s important to show how your business will scale and what your growth projections are.
Include information on the cost of manufacturing, raw materials, design, labor, and operating your product or service. Additionally, outline the cost of sales, which can include marketing, distribution, service delivering, and processing.
Explain how customers will pay for your product or service, including payment methods and pricing strategy. You should be able to provide plenty of details along with their in-depth analysis.
A good idea here is to reference your competition. Are you positioned as a premium or luxury brand? Or are you planning on operating within the budget segment that undercutting your competitor’s pricing?
Traction is an essential component of your pitch deck as it provides tangible insight into your business.
This section should demonstrate that your business is gaining momentum and is on the right track to meet its goals.
Here you should highlight your key achievements, such as customer acquisition, revenue growth, or partnerships.
Include a sales or customer database if you have them. Investors will be more inclined to invest if they see that your business and revenue model has been tested in the real world. From the investor’s perspective, validation and social proof considerably reduce their risk.
To add more detail, consider including a product or company roadmap outlining your company’s milestones. Highlight what you’ve accomplished so far and what your next milestones are along with a projected timeline.
#7 Your team
It is true that investors invest in people, not just ideas.
Your team section should highlight the experience, expertise, and passion of your team members. You should also demonstrate the ways in which your team is uniquely positioned to execute your business plan successfully.
Introduce your key team members, their relevant achievements, and expertise. Be transparent about any missing roles or skill sets.
You should consider using actual images of your team to build trust and connection with your audience. Ensure each team member has a well-defined role during the presentation.
Your financials section is absolutely crucial. It should provide a clear and concise overview of your finances.
You must make sure that the information you present is factual, matches your business plan, and, last but not least, that you understand it well. Mistakes can deter potential investors.
This should include your revenue projections, expenses, and profitability. Cover essential data, such as sales targets and achievements, customer numbers, income statement, cash flow forecast (at least three years), and current balance sheet. You should also explain how you plan to use the funds you raise and what your fundraising goals are.
Avoid spreadsheets and use graphs, charts, or infographics to present figures.
#9 Your competition
Your competition section should provide an overview of your competitors and how you plan on differentiating yourself from them.
Investors will want to know about your rivals, the competitive landscape, and how your business can stand out from the crowd. Summarize your competitive analysis and demonstrate your expertise in the industry.
You should explain why your product or service can be the best, and lay out how you plan to compete in the marketplace.
You should also demonstrate how you will respond to future technological advances that may disrupt your target market.
#10 Investment ask
Your pitch deck should conclude with a clear and concise investment ask.
Declare the specific amount that you need and explain how you want to use it in as much detail as you can.
You should also include what your exit strategy is and what your investors can expect in return for their investment.
Investors will want to know how their money will be spent and how it will help your business grow.
5 examples of great pitch decks
Below you can find five pitch deck examples that can inspire you and offer valuable ideas to incorporate into your own pitch deck. While modeling your approach after these top-tier startup pitch decks doesn’t guarantee fundraising success for your startup, it can definitely guide you in the right direction.
Uber’s pitch deck effectively explained their ride-sharing service and how it worked. They highlighted that their service was fast, efficient, affordable, and easy to use, addressing any potential hesitations about getting into someone else’s car
Airbnb’s pitch deck is highly searched for reference, as it was the startup’s first step towards success. Their pitch deck clearly identifies the problem of expensive hotels and proposes a potential solution of low-cost apartment or room rentals from local hosts.
YouTube quickly became the largest video-sharing website in the world. Their startup pitch deck had a no-frills approach and promised to become the primary outlet for user-generated content on the internet. Within the first few slides, YouTube demonstrated to investors that they mean business.
Buffer is a successful social media management tool used by top businesses worldwide. Their pitch deck emphasizes their profitability and existing revenue at the time of raising funds. The deck also highlights the numerous partnerships and integrations the company had prior to seeking investment, which added significant value to their pitch.
LinkedIn’s pitch deck for a Series B funding round in August 2004 stood out for its focus on addressing investors’ objections. The deck recognized that social media was a competitive space, but explained how LinkedIn differentiated itself and how it planned to attract millions of users. By doing so, the pitch deck effectively communicated the potential return on investment for interested parties.
Creating a compelling startup pitch deck is essential for securing investments and gaining the support of stakeholders.
Your pitch deck should be concise, focused, and visually appealing, with clear and concise copy. It should include essential components, such as the problem, the solution, the market, the team, and the financials.
With a well-designed and executed pitch deck, you can communicate your business idea effectively and persuade investors to support your venture.
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