One of the most important skills a founder can develop is that art of the "perfect pitch."
As a founder, this is something you'll be doing a lot of, and it's important to know how to effectively communicate the vision of your business to your team, partners, and investors.
The startup pitch deck is most commonly used when pitching investors to raise venture capital. If you're just starting out with your business, you may need to raise a seed round of funding to build the prototype and go to market. You may have already grown your business and need more capital to continue to expand.
What most founders get wrong...
Too many slides
When building the deck, a lot of founders face the challenge of over complicating their slides. The idea is to keep things simple and only add the most essential slides to communicate your vision.
Focus your slides on clear and concise messaging and keep it to maximum of 10 slides.
Too much technical jargon
Another common issue for founders is diving too deep into their technical implementation. There's no need to show the implementation of your solution. Focusing more on the benefits of how it will impact the customer, generate revenue, and grow into a large company will be much more engaging.
Too much fluff, instead of real data
When you're pitching investors, you need to bring your A-game. If you're aiming to get a check for a few million, it can't just be focused on the buzzwords of the month. You need to back up your vision with real data and evidence that there's really a market for your solution.
The 10 key slides for a great pitch deck...
Building a deck should be simple and focused on the key areas that investors need to know about your business. Let's look at each slide you'll want to include in your deck and why it's important.
1. Company Overview
The first slide should just start the conversation with a high level phrase or statement that summarizes what your company does. Sometimes this is called the X for Y. For example...
- Uber for Golf
- Airbnb for Therapists
The point of this slide is to frame the conversation and provide context for future slides. It should be similar to the headline on your website.
What problem does the customer have? Describe the problem that you're solving and why it's important. What about this problem is difficult to solve? What's the story behind how the problem and why it exists?
You should back up this problem with real data and statistics to show that there is really a problem in the market.
What's your solution? What product are you building to solve this problem and why how does it work?
You should try to include case studies or product screenshots to show how your solution looks and the results it can produce.
Ultimately, you want to prove that you have a new, scalable solution that solves the problem effectively.
This is also a great slide to show a quick video demo or highlight real of how the product works. You should consider having a video created and ready to play from a link in the slide.
4. Business Model
The core to business is that you have a solution which customers are willing to pay for. In this slide, you'll want to outline how the business model will be set up.
Are you monetizing with advertising revenue? Is it an E-commerce store? Are you a SaaS with pricing tiers or selling annual B2B contracts? Is it a marketplace?
The investor wants to see that there's a path to revenue for continued growth.
5. Market Opportunity
Investors want to know the potential for your company's growth. You'll want to include data around the demand, trends, and size of the market. For example, what's the TAM and size of the market opportunity?
Investors like large market opportunities with big valuations and 1B+ market caps. You should consider what segments you'll shift into as you grow and include those as potential opportunities for future expansion.
In most markets, there's always someone working on the same idea as you. You'll need to know who those people are and what they are working on. Although Peter Thiel says, "competition is for losers" and that you should instead go Zero to One, you'll want to keep an eye out for potential competitive forces working to take your customers.
Include a slide that showcases these competitors and what their weak points are. If you have a solution that's better, highlight the comparison between your product and competitors.
7. Key Differentiators
You may have a nice solution to the problem, but what is your unfair advantage that gives you the edge over the competition? What IP, patents, or trademarks do you have?
Think about the early stages of Tinder? They had a unique "swipe" feature that no one had thought about as a solution to match people. It attracted tons of new customers and became a signature feature of their brand.
This is a key slide because it shows the investor that you have the potential to bypass competition and capture a larger market share.
8. Marketing Plan
How will you attract and convert customers?
You want to include a high level summary of what channels you'll use to acquire new customers and how you'll promote your brand and products.
You should highlight any case studies of pilots you've run or what sample creative you'll be deploying in your campaigns. The goal in this slide is to give the investors a sense of how the brand would go to market.
Who's on your team? Why is your team set up to become the winning business in this space?
Think about what expertise your team should have? Do any of the founders have a background in this industry? Or did they work at a company which gave them significant experience around solving a particular problem?
You'll want to include each team member, their photo, bio, and what strengths they bring to the company.
10. Funding Needs & Investment Plans
How much money do you need? What's the potential valuation of your company?
Here you'll want to inform the investor of how much you're looking to raise, whether it's 500k, 1 million, or 10 million. The investor needs to know exactly what you need within the context of your pitch.
You should also mention what you plan to do with the investment. Are you going to hire more people? Invest into advertising? Are you going to purchase more servers?
Create an "Aha" moment
Pitching your vision to investors is an exciting moment in your startup's history. To make the most of it, aim for creating an "Aha" moment where your audience is compelled by your solution.
Along with delivering a clear, concise, and professional pitch, try to add something inspiring like a quote or customer story to help make an impact.
Check out more examples of slides from top startups like Airbnb, LinkedIn, Buffer, and more.