In this article we’ll explain what makes up a pitch deck — from the basics of what to include to tips on how to make it stand out.
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a brief presentation that provides investors with an overview of your business, whether it’s showcasing your product, sharing your business model, giving a look into your monetization strategy, and introducing your team.
A pitch deck is usually a 10-20 slide presentation designed to give a short summary of your company, your business plan and your startup vision. It’s commonly used to raise funding, but can be shared with potential customers, partners or investors at any stage of a company’s lifecycle.
What is the purpose of a pitch deck?
The purpose of your pitch deck is to explain your business plan in an easy to understand way. The main reason for this is that there are often many people that may be interested in learning about your company without having the time to read through a lengthy business plan. This can include potential investors and stakeholders that want to know more about your vision.
A well-constructed pitch deck will help you present your company’s product or service, go over the problems you are solving for customers and the size of the market for your product or service. You should also include details about how you plan on marketing and distributing your product or service, as well as how you will monetize it.
Finally, you need to show how you plan on growing your business through partnerships or acquisitions. You can also include any relevant financial data such as revenue projections and expenses.
Slides Your Pitch Deck Should Include
The key to a successful pitch deck is to make sure you cover your basics and include all the slides your investors want to see.
Typically, good pitch decks include anywhere around 10 slides. This isn’t a set-in-stone rule though, and you can go above or below this number depending on the slides you need.
Of course, the exact elements of your pitch will vary depending on your company and industry, but there are some basic things that all great pitches have in common. Here’s what they are:
1. Vision and value proposition
This is a quick one-sentence overview of your business and the value that you provide to your customers. Keep it short and simple. A great way to think about this slide is to imagine it as a short tweet—describe your business in 140 characters or less in a way your parents would understand.
It’s common for tech companies to make their value proposition a comparison to another well-known company. For example, you see many pitches that start with things like:
We are Airbnb for X.
We are Uber for Y.
Think about what this is really communicating from the investor’s perspective and be careful when using these types of statements. When you compare yourself to an established company, you are communicating two things: that what you do isn’t unique and that you don’t have a defensible position in the market.
You want investors to believe your business is unique and that it has a sustainable competitive advantage. If you really want to make the comparison, I recommend using language such as “similar to Airbnb but for…” or “like Uber but more focused on…” This allows you to highlight the similarities while making it clear that your business has a differentiated
2. The problem:
If you aren’t solving some problem in the world, you are going to have a long uphill climb with your business.
Use this slide to talk about the problem you are solving and who has the problem. You can talk about the current solutions in the market, but don’t spend too much time on the competitive landscape on this slide—you’ll have a chance to do that later on.
Ideally, try and tell a relatable story when you are defining the problem. The more you can make the problem as real as possible, the more your investors will understand your business and your goals.
3. Target market and opportunity
Use this slide to expand on who your ideal customer is and how many of them there are. What is the total market size and how do you position your company in the market? If you can find the data, investors will want to know how much people or businesses currently spend in the market to get a sense of the total market size. This is where you tell the story about the scope and scale of the problem you are solving.
If it makes sense for your business, you’ll want to divide your market into segments that you will address with different types of marketing and perhaps different types of product offerings.
4. The solution
Finally, you get to dive into describing your product or service. Describe how customers use your product and how it addresses the problems that you outlined on slide two.
You’ll be tempted to move this slide closer to the beginning of your pitch deck, but try and resist the temptation. This is classic storytelling where you build up the problem and describe how bad it is for lots of people. Now your product or service is coming to the rescue to help solve that problem.
Most entrepreneurs are very focused on their product when instead they need to be focused on their customers and the problems those customers face. Try and keep your focus on the problem first and then explain how your solution can help solve that problem.
5. Traction and validation/roadmap
If you already have sales or early adopters using your product, talk about that here. Investors want to see that you have proven some aspect of your business model as that reduces risk, so any proof you have that validates that your solution works to solve the problem you have identified is extremely powerful.
You can also use this slide to talk about your milestones. What major goals have you achieved so far and what are the major next steps you plan on taking? A product or company roadmap that outlines key milestones is helpful here.
6. Marketing and sales strategy
Investors will want to see that you’ve thought about how you plan on reaching your target market and what channels you plan to use.
You’re going to want to show that you have a good understanding of where your customers hang out online and offline, and which channels will be most effective for marketing to them.
For example, if you plan on selling your product or service to other businesses, are you planning on using outbound sales tactics (cold calling)? Or do you think that inbound marketing tactics (social media, SEO, content marketing) will be more effective? If so, explain why.
If you’re building a consumer product, are you planning on selling directly through your own website? Or do you plan on selling in physical retail stores? Or both? How is your distribution strategy different than your competitors?
Why are you and your team the right people to build and grow this company? What experience do you have that others don’t? Highlight the key team members, their successes at other companies, and the key expertise that they bring to the table.
Even if you don’t have a complete team yet, identify the key positions that you still need to fill and why those positions are critical to company growth.
Investors will expect to see your financials: sales forecast, income statement (also called profit and loss statement), and cash flow forecast for at least three years.
But, for your pitch deck, you shouldn’t have in-depth spreadsheets that will be difficult to read and consume in a presentation format. Limit yourself to charts that show sales, total customers, total expenses, and profits.
You should be prepared to discuss the underlying assumptions that you’ve made to arrive at your sales goals and what your key expense drivers are.
9. Investment and use of Funds
Explain how much capital you are seeking and what the money will be used for.
You may want to differentiate between the money you need now, in order to get your product or service to market, and the funding you need to continue to grow. Highlight how much of your own money you have invested so far.
Be prepared to address how much money you’ve raised so far, who has invested (i.e., friends, family and/or angel investors), and what questions potential investors should ask them about your concept, business model, value proposition, and team.
This section is going to be about who are your competitors, what do they do, how you compare against them and how you’re different than them.
If you don’t have any competitors, then you can treat this as an opportunity to talk about the alternatives that are out there. So if you don’t have any competition, then you could say something like “There are no major competitors in this space.” And then you could go on and talk about alternatives like if people were doing something manually before or if they were using an inefficient process or if they were paying someone else to do it for them.
Just basically explain the situation or status quo before your business existed. And then you want to explain how your product is better than all of those alternatives.
In addition to explaining how your product is better than the other options out there, you also want to talk about how your competition might react to your startup. In other words, after your startup has started getting traction in the market, what will your
Creating a pitch deck isn’t easy. There are so many possibilities and directions to go in order to create an effective pitch deck. But as long as you’re focused on helping your target market and you can tell a relatable story around your product or business, you will be successful.
If what you see here is relevant for you and can help you grow your business or organisation, we’d love to discuss further with you. Drop us a message or schedule an appointment with us.