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As an entrepreneur, you probably know this: your company or idea needs financing.
Oftentimes, this financing will come from external sources—i.e. people who aren’t friends or family. This means that you’ll need to communicate your ideas to potential financiers in a way that gets them excited about investing in your business.
In other words, you’ll need a pitch deck.
A pitch deck, also known as a start-up or investor pitch deck, is a presentation that helps potential investors learn more about your business.
As strange as it sounds, the primary goal of a pitch desk is not to secure funding—it’s to make it to the next meeting.
Securing funding is a multi-step process. A good, informative pitch deck is the first rung on the ladder. You’ll want to present investors with an idea that intrigues them and gets them to engage with you.
A pitch deck presentation usually consists of several slides that help you tell a compelling story about your business. You can put one together using a generic software like PowerPoint, or use a modern tool like Visme to create an out-of-the-box presentation.
It’s tempting to dump information onto investors. As a founder, every part of your business is important to you. But the best pitch decks are ones that are short and easy to follow.
A good rule of thumb is to include no more than 19 slides in a pitch deck.
There are many different opinions about what a pitch deck must absolutely contain. But when we looked at some successful startup pitch decks out there, we noticed 10 key slides included in most of the presentations.
Let’s take a look at each of these slides in detail.
The first slide of your pitch deck is also the most important one. It’s your chance to make a great first impression, so make sure you don’t let this opportunity go.
Keep the introduction slide short and sweet—tell people who you are and why you’re here.
You can also use this slide to communicate the value proposition of your business. Try to articulate it in a single phrase or sentence, like:
“We make video games for doctors.”
“We make Happy Meals for adults.”
“We’re Sephora for pets.”
You get the point.
A good value proposition will make your audience sit up straight and want to listen to the rest of your presentation.
If your business idea doesn’t solve an actual problem, what are you doing?
You should identify a problem your target audience faces, a gap that the market is currently not addressing.
A good problem slide will identify two or three problems that your product will tackle, without being long-winding. Keep the text focused, so that investors will have an easy time following.
Airbnb’s ‘problem slide’ from their original pitch desk is a great example.
In this slide, Airbnb clearly points out three key problems that their business aims to solve. They’ve kept it short, yet added just enough explanation to relate to their idea and target audience.
In this slide, identify a concise and clear solution that investors can easily follow.
Airbnb’s solution slide highlights how they aim to solve each of three problems they pointed out earlier in big and bold letters.
Avoid making grand statements like “we are the only ones doing this.” Most people in the room will probably know multiple companies trying to address the problem you’ve identified.
Another good strategy is to offer multiple possible solutions to the problem presented, and then move on to the one you have chosen and why. This shows investors your dedication and research.
Instead of uniqueness, focus your presentation on your research, drive, commitment and capability in solving the problem.
But make sure you don’t put all of that on your slide. Keep it simple and to the point, and let these guidelines shape your entire presentation.
Here's a pitch deck template inspired by Airbnb that you can customize for your own startup.
The market will determine if you get your funding or not. If you are operating in a small market, investors might find that the potential ROI is too small or too risky to fund you.
Using sources from your research, a solid market slide will graph out past market growth and future potential market growth so that investors can easily see what the potential of your product is.
A good example of a market slide is from Mint’s pitch deck.
Notice how the slide clearly shows the market size and identifies the opportunity in measurable numbers.
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This is the part where you show off the actual product or service your business is selling.
If it’s a physical product, add professional photos of your product from different angles. You can also include exploded or cutaway views that highlight the materials and features of your product.
If your product is an app, online tool or service, consider adding screenshots that show off its most unique features.
TouristEye’s pitch deck included a series of screenshots that showed examples of travel itineraries and collections that users would be able to create and search.
To take things further, you can also do a physical demo of your product in the middle of your presentation. Or embed a video or link into your slide to do a virtual demo.
Here's a pitch deck template inspired by TouristEye that you can customize for your own startup.
This slide should be all about the growth of your business—the numbers of sales you’ve made, the major goals you’ve achieved till now and the next steps.
Most startups include a hockey stick growth chart in the traction slide of their pitch deck.
This slide in Buffer’s pitch deck is a great example of how you can show off your current achievements to investors.
The traction slide is important as it reduces risk in the eyes of the investors. They want to see proof that your business idea or solution has what it takes to be profitable.
Here's a pitch deck template inspired by Buffer that you can customize for your own startup.
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Customize this pitch deck template to make it your own!
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This slide will include your core team members. The investor is interested in the drive of these people and what makes them unique enough to see this project to its success.
Under each core team member, consider including bullets, descriptions or titles that show why they are central to your mission.
Here’s an example of a team slide from Piccsy’s pitch deck.
Keep the members here limited to your core team. Advisors need not be included.
Use this slide to show who your competition is, and why you are different from them.
Airbnb has a great slide in this regard.
Notice how they use affordability and ease of access as the driving force setting their business apart from other travel or listing companies.
Buzzfeed also does great by showing how they offer more than what their competition can. They use their plan to reach across the aisle and offer the services of multiple competitors as their selling point.
Here's a pitch deck template inspired by Buzzfeed that you can customize for your own startup.
The financials slide in your pitch deck is one that investors spend the most time looking over.
It should contain your company’s projected growth over the next three to five years, along with details about your business model and finances.
Enlive’s pitch deck does a good job at showcasing their income statement projection in this slide.
The use of colors and a bar chart makes the financials easier to understand and definitely look more interesting than a boring spreadsheet full of numbers.
A lot of this information is not set in stone. No one can accurately predict where you’ll be in the next three years, but investors expect to see you outline your plan and show that you have the financial knowledge to reach it.
You can also explain your economic plan here. This includes your operating structure and distribution channels as well as your plan to make money.
Before you wrap up, don’t forget to tell investors what you need from them.
But instead of just asking for a certain amount of funding, also let them know what you plan to do with the money.
When you justify your ask, it helps build trust and lets investors take you seriously.
Here’s a no-nonsense investment slide from Intercom’s original pitch deck as an example.
Remember to be strategic here. Let your investors know the amount you are asking for, but keep it real. You don’t want to lose out on a big investment simply by aiming too high. Cover your bases.
Here's a pitch deck template inspired by Intercom that you can customize for your own startup.
Now that you’re clear on what a pitch deck is and what a good one contains, let’s take a look at some common dos and don’ts for creating and giving powerful pitch presentations.
Remember that this is a presentation with a short time span.
Don’t overwhelm your audience with a lot of text. Explain the things you want to explain in detail but don’t cram them onto your slides.
As you can see from the examples above, it’s best to have bullets, not paragraphs, on slides.
Furthermore, use large font sizes, lots of visuals and a readable color scheme. This will help you put together an engaging and informative presentation.
Make sure you include your contact information at the end of your presentation to let your audience know who to reach out to for queries.
Here is the contact slide from Facebook’s 2004 pitch deck.
This slide also allows your business to have a ‘face’ and encourages investors to look this person up.
In your Team slide, stick to core members. Too many executives can overwhelm; your investors want to know who is piloting the ship.
Make sure you present your audience with an engaging narrative that allows them to feel why your business is tackling the problem it is and how this will affect them.
Without a cohesive narrative and a bigger picture dealing with the why of your business and what it will bring to your customers, all your stats sound dry and boring.
Make sure a purposeful narrative runs throughout your presentation, not just at the beginning. The stats are important, especially financial stats, but they aren’t the only important thing.
What is on the slides is important, but so is how you present it.
As you’re speaking, gauge your audience, their interests in the particulars of your business, and what they most care about. Then, tailor your presentation to their needs.
Tailor your presentation to keep your audience engaged and never just recite what is written on your slides.
Remember, investors can read. The reason this is a presentation and not an email is so you can engage with them.
Creating a startup pitch deck doesn’t need to be difficult. If you’re short on time, you can use a design tool like Visme to put one together in literally just a few minutes.
No more starting from scratch and creating slides one by one. You can simply use ready-made templates and replace the placeholder content with your own.
Here’s how it works.
To get started, sign in to your Visme dashboard and choose a pitch deck template that fits well with your content and type of business.
There are hundreds of presentation templates in Visme’s library, and they’re all fully customizable.
You can also mix and match slides of a similar style using our presentation themes.
When you find a pitch deck template you like, click on Edit to start customizing it inside the Visme editor.
You can change anything and everything to fit your content needs. The editor is easy-to-use with drag-and-drop functionality. You can use it even without any prior design experience.
Change colors, fonts and images. Swap icons for relevant ones using our free icon library. Add and customize data visualizations to make boring numbers more interesting. Insert animations and links, embed videos and more.
You can also add, remove or rearrange slides as you see fit.
The entire customization process will barely take you an hour if you just replace the placeholder content with your own.
When you’re done customizing your perfect pitch deck, you have the option to either download it to your computer, or share it online using a link.
You can download your pitch deck in image or PDF format, or as a PowerPoint file.
Generate a link to share it privately with specific people, like in an email. You can also publish your presentation on the web so it can show up in search results on Google.
You can also embed the pitch presentation on your company website using a responsive code.
A powerful pitch deck can help you secure the funding you need to make your business idea a reality. This article will give you the confidence you need to design and present a killer pitch deck.
Remember: believe in your vision and others will too.
If you want to learn more about pitch decks and giving great presentations, check out some of the resources below.
You can also watch this video on how to structure your presentation to keep your audience hooked till the very end.
Ready to create your very own pitch deck? Sign up on Visme for a free account and take it for a test drive!
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