A startup pitch deck is a must-have tool that will enable you to attract investors and raise funds for your startup. It is designed to maximize the possibility of investments and get people interested in your company.
A startup pitch deck is a thorough yet concise presentation (often in Keynote or PowerPoint format) that summarizes your business plan, operations, and goals. An effective pitch deck will simultaneously speak directly to customers, potential investors, co-founders, and partners. A pitch deck is an as integral part of to the start-up fundraising process, just like a as a CV is to the job search.
We know this isn’t a simple process, so let us be your guide!
To get started, access our free basic startup pitch deck template. Then, populate the template to create a complete deck. Below is a guide to help you complete your pitch deck.
The 10 Slides You Need in Your Startup Pitch Deck
Putting together a startup pitch deck should not take you hours or days– it should take WEEKS! It involves plenty of research, as well as trial and error. You need to collect relevant, timely, and meaningful information, often referred to as “intelligence.” Then, determine what information is truly relevant to the pitch. Examples of intelligence include market data, statistics, competitor analysis, and more. Everything should fit into just 11 simple slides!
Spend time on each slide, trimming and reworking the content until you’re certain it is clear and concise, and offers an emotional “hook” to your investors.
1. Elevator Pitch/Vision:
- An elevator pitch is a short, succinct sales pitch that you should be able to give in 10-30 seconds.
- Intended to inspire interest and provide as much information as possible in the shortest amount of time.
- Should not detail your entire operation, goals, and vision.
- Provides your audience or recipient with the ability to make an assessment by listening to only a few words.
- You should have several variations of your elevator pitch available, each tailored to the role you are interacting with, such as potential Investors, Clients, Channel Partners, etc.
- The elevator pitch should always be the first slide of your startup pitch deck. It caters to the shorter attention spans of busy investors and is the “hook” that will hold their attention, while the rest of the deck creates desire, interest, conviction, and closing opportunities.
2. The Problem:
- The more common the problem, the better!
- The problem should be one your investor is familiar with, and even better – one the investor can identify with.
- Authentic, real problems supported by facts removes uncertainty and creates trust.
- Example: you may have a hard time pitching a tech investor the benefits of a certain type of baby food if there is no tech element present. Your goal is to make the problem both as specific and as universal as possible. Give the investor a common, relatable, “everyman” problem, and you will create real interest in learning about your solution.
3. The Solution:
- Introduce your product or service and demonstrate that it is the perfect solution to the problem you have just described.
- The point of having an “everyman” problem is to make it as relatable as possible, but this is also where you need to be specific on how your product or service solves the problem.
- The more unique (but proven) your approach is to solving the problem, the more intrigued potential investors will be!
- Your pitch deck will illustrate the features of the product or service you’re offering, but not as a list of attributes.
- Instead, you will pitch the benefits to the customer or user. You want to validate that there is a potential market for what you have to offer.
- The “Validation” slide also deals with to-date sales, early adopters, or the response to your prototype. Investors will be far more likely to invest in a product or service that already has a fan base or one that is poised to hit an open, receptive market.
5. Revenue Model:
- Investors have one main goal in mind: making money. They are going to want to know how your product or service will earn revenue. Who will you charge? Who will it target? How broad is your potential market base? Do your research to find out about your ideal customer and how targeting them will earn the company money.
6. Growth and Marketing Strategy:
- Once you launch that first product or service, you need growth to succeed. Investors will want to know about your sales and marketing strategies, your plans for growth, and how you intend to find and attract customers.
- If you plan on using a unique approach, this is the slide to showcase what you are going to do. The more developed your growth and marketing strategy, the better!
7. The Team:
- Every investor wants to know the team behind the product or service. This is the slide where you will assert that you and your team are the right people to deliver on the promise you made in Slide #3 (The Solution) and why.
- Provide information on your experience, success, expertise, and how your unique combination of people will lead to growth and success.
- Investors want to know about more than just the product or service; they also want to see the cold, hard facts, particularly about the financials of the company. Details include sales projections, profit and loss statements, cash flow forecasts, and more. This will give investors a clear idea of the financial side of your business.
- Being overly optimistic can damage your credibility with the investor.
- Base your market research on legitimate statistics, and be realistic with your projections.
- Consider calculations that outline your break-even point, both in time (e.g. 18 months, 24 months, etc.) and a distinct variable that can easily be measured (e.g. number of clients, number of units sold, etc.)
- Be realistic. However, you want to make it as short and concise as possible. Stick with these four elements:
- Sales (past and projected)
- Customers (past and projected)
- Total expenses
- Profits (past and projected)
- No matter what business you’re in, you will always have competition. It may be direct competition (Nike vs. Reebok) or indirect competition (Uber vs. Yellow Cab services), but it will always exist.
- The more you know about your competition, including its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), the better.
- Demonstrate confidence and knowledge in how you will be able to design strategies and tactics to outsmart, out-market, and outperform your competition.
- Invest substantial time on this slide. Research all potential competitors in your market sector, and get as much information on them as possible. The more information you gather, the more you can prove to prospective investors that you know what you are doing.
10. What You Ask For:
- Here’s where you tell the prospective investors what you want from them. This is the “ask” part of the pitch. You may be offering a 40% stake in your company in return for $400,000, or you may just need $25,000 to launch a new product and will only offer a 5% stake.
- Have a fair-minded approach, so that you can outline with confidence the amount you need (the investment) in exchange for the return you are offering (the enticement). Make sure the story presented and the amount needed are aligned.
- For example, if you have demonstrated in your pitch deck a powerful story with a clear approach to victory and market trends validating your exit strategy of $25 million, then asking for only $100,000 of investment might not make sense.
Research is key here. You need to be as clear as possible on the business potential of your start-up, including projected profits and losses. This will give your company a clear value that you can use to offer investors a share worth the money they will invest.
Bonus Slide: More Information – You want your pitch deck to be as concise as possible, but use the last slide to give the investors more information. This can include market analysis, competitive analysis, the spreadsheets with your Profit and Loss statements, statistics used, and more. Not all investors will want to see this detailed information, but it is good to be prepared just in case. At the very least, you need to provide investors with financial models and market research available.
A pitch deck can be a very useful tool, but only if it is done right. We’re sure that our free basic startup pitch deck template will help you create a startup pitch deck that’s professional, clear, and engaging. And, at the same time, we want to help you avoid a few mistakes.
The Most Common Mistakes Made When Creating Startup Pitch Decks
While a startup pitch deck is an important tool used to attract investors, it is important to remember that investors are in search of business opportunities that have the highest chance of good returns. A well-crafted pitch deck does not guarantee you will get investments, but a bad or poorly-crafted startup pitch deck reflects negatively on your company and communicates that you do not know what you are doing.
Here are five common mistakes to avoid when creating your startup pitch deck:
- Failing to tell a good story – Storytelling is a MUST if you want to attract an investor. A good story that communicates the essence of your business, product, or brand will capture the attention of investors and connect with them on an emotional level. The more your investor is attracted to the story, the more he or she will want to learn. The more investors learn, the greater the chance that they will invest. It all starts with a good, authentic story!
- Too many details – A great pitch deck should be concise. Investors don’t have hours to spend poring over data and statistics. They want the pitch deck to give them the relevant information as quickly and concisely as possible and convey the opportunity clearly, with few words. The writing in your pitch deck is intended to inspire the investor, not educate them on everything you do. Outline your brand, product, or service, and leave the details and statistics for a full, more detailed presentation or Q & A session.
- List features rather than benefits – Sell the sizzle! Sure, your app may have lots of impressive features or your service provide a lot of cool things, but how does your product BENEFIT both the customer and the investor? Instead of telling investors what it does, share how your product will improve the lives of those who use it. THAT is what you want your investor to take away from the pitch.
- Failing to consider the competition – No matter how “niche” your product or service, there will ALWAYS be competition. There’s no such thing as a “lacking competitive market.” Do your research to find out who or what your direct and indirect competition is. Include the competitors in your pitch deck with honest analysis to show that you know your market inside and out.
- Lacking focus – Your product probably isn’t going to end world hunger or bring about world peace in our time. What it is going to do is solve a problem better than any other product or service around, right? Write your pitch deck to focus on that one problem and the solution you provide. Describe the problem as clearly as possible, and use that problem to make an emotional connection with the investor. From there, it is easy to intrigue the investor with your product or service as the solution.
Don’t ruin your chances of attracting investors by making one of these five common mistakes. No matter how good your product is, if you lack focus, fail to consider the competition, focus on features rather than benefits, oversaturate the pitch deck with details, and fail to connect investors with your story emotionally, your startup pitch deck will not be effective and your start-up success can be hindered.