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While investor demand for start-up deals is on the rise, the amount of time investors are actually taking to review pitch decks is on the decline. When they do, they only spend an average of 3 minutes and 44 seconds with a deck. So, the goal is to create a pitch deck that will capture and keep potential investors’ interest.
But first things first, what exactly is a pitch deck? A pitch deck is a type of sales presentation to promote a business venture to potential investors. Most pitch decks are formatted as PowerPoint or Google Slides presentations, although founders are increasingly experimenting with new formats like Notion memos. Regardless of the form, a compelling pitch deck will tell a company story well enough to help differentiate your company from the thousands investors are seeing and get you the next meeting.
Pitch Deck Best Practices
A pitch deck should be:
A narrative pitch that hooks your investor immediately. Emphasize your insider knowledge of the market, differentiate your product and provide the investor a reason to think you are in the 1% of companies they want to invest in.
Short. Keep your deck to 10-15 slides (MAX), and don’t pitch longer than 10 minutes. Longer pitches can cause investors to lose interest or miss the key takeaways. Investors are busy and often distracted; make sure you are focusing their attention on the 3-4 key takeaways you want them to remember after the pitch.
Clear and visually uncomplicated. Make sure you are using a large and clear enough font that it will be visible in both video presentations and printed materials.
Slides to Include in Your Pitch Deck
Aside from introductory information about your company, here are some key points you’ll want to address in your pitch deck.
Your pitch deck should start by discussing the problem your product intends to solve. You’ll talk about the expected user and how they are addressing the problem today. If there isn’t any kind of solution for the problem, you’ll talk about why it needs to be solved. Either way, you’ll want to mention the value of solving this problem for customers while making it understandable, relatable and important.
Solution and Value Proposition
Once you’ve covered the problem, it’s time to present your product as the best solution. Talk about how it solves the problem and why it’s better than current alternatives in terms of the things that matter to your users or the market.
Next, you’ll introduce your leadership team and highlight the reasons investors should believe your team can get this done. Focus on notable accomplishments, a track record of relevant work experience, educational background and the team’s history of working together. . Explain why this particular team is perfectly suited to build this company and solve the customers’ problems.
Now you’ll start to dig into the business side. Talk about how big the market is for this problem (TAM, SAM, and SOM), how quickly it’s growing, and what trends are driving the market. If it’s a new market, discuss the untapped opportunity. Remember that venture investors are typically looking for companies that can solve multi-billion dollar problems and build industry leading companies - that typically takes a market that is very big today or will be very big tomorrow.
Expand on your initial product description and highlight key tech, product status (MVP, Beta, or live), and your future vision or roadmap. Why will users flock to this product and what will keep them using it?
If you have direct competitors, talk about who they are, why your product is better, and why consumers will pick your product over a competitor’s.
Go-To-Market and Business Model
Discuss your target customers and how you’ll plan to reach them. Elaborate on your pricing model and how you’ll generate revenue. Show that you can create a model that both scales and creates operating leverage over time. Make sure your business and revenue model align with past examples that venture investors understand (SaaS, marketplace, Freemium/Premium Subscription, etc.) and explain how the model grows over time.
Customers and Transactions
The later stage you are, the more metrics you’ll need to show. These metrics can include customer metrics (e.g. - number of users/customers, free vs. paid, ARPU/ACV, retention, etc), customer endorsements, notable partnerships, or anything else that demonstrates why your brand is worth investing in. Even if you are early-stage, understanding, developing and validating these metrics can be a powerful tool to differentiate your startup and attract investor interest.
Include two years of financial projections and have your backup financials ready in an Excel sheet for investors to review after your pitch. Your pitch deck slide will simply include a summary of the detailed information on your spreadsheet. All investors know that these financials are questionable (at best), but building out 2 years of financial projections allows investors to gut check your fundamental growth assumptions and allows you to show that you understand the financial dynamics of your business.
Before you wrap up the presentation, your pitch deck should include your target financing amount, how you’ll use the funds, and the goals and milestones you expect to achieve with the capital. Make sure you are providing yourself sufficient capital to reach a major fundable milestone, because investors want to know that this funding round will give you enough runway to either reach financial sustainability or raise your next funding round at a meaningfully higher valuation.
General Pitch Deck Tips
Keep it clear, simple, and compelling—you need to catch the viewer’s attention and get your point across quickly
Include links to LinkedIn profiles for team members if you have a large following, so investors can look you up and search for connections
Use less text with a larger font and more graphics, flowcharts, and graphs
Start with the company name, logo, and a single sentence about why you do what you do
You can include a link to a 1-2 minute video product demo if you are using a shareable document link. Think about market relevance and why now: Are there market trends to suggest a shift in user behavior? Was there a change in laws or regulations mandating people or companies to find a solution like yours? Have new technologies or markets only now made your company possible?
Want to learn more? Sample decks and additional resources available in Passport™.