When you’re seeking additional funding from a venture capital firm or are looking to bring in new partners to your business, you will invariably need to pitch your business or brand to these individuals and companies. Likely the most effective way to make a pitch is by creating a pitch deck, which is a presentation that will allow you to provide your intended audience with a brief overview of your business plan. Even if all you’re looking to do is gain exposure for your company, creating a pitch deck can be an invaluable tool to present your business to the world.
As you perfect your pitch deck over time, and through the many iterations you will likely endure, you will also likely gain a better understanding of your business and industry. Another clear benefit of putting together a pitch deck for your business is that you’ll become increasingly confident in your product or brand as you navigate the details of your pitch.
If your pitch deck can convince potential investors and partners to support your product, this is a good sign that your product can be successful when placed on the market. Before you get started on creating a pitch deck for your startup, there are a range of aspects of a pitch deck that you should thoroughly understand, which should help you avoid making time-consuming mistakes while attempting to create the perfect pitch deck.
Airbnb’s Pitch Deck (2011)
What is a Pitch Deck?
A pitch deck is a brief presentation that’s aimed at providing customers, prospective investors, or potential partners with an overview of your business and the product or service that you’re looking to market as a startup. These presentations can be put together with such platforms as Keynote, PowerPoint, and Prezi. While you will be putting this pitch deck with software, pitch decks are typically presented in person through a face-to-face meeting. This pitch method can also accommodate online meetings without issue.
Pitch decks are absolutely essential if you want your startup to stand out among the competition. Even if you’re an entrepreneur who’s currently working alone, pitch decks will help you pitch your idea or product in a manner that might convince investors and partners to assist with the growth of your business. Whether you need additional funding to bring your product to market or are searching for a partner who can help you with the ongoing management of your company, a pitch deck allows you to succinctly and effectively advertise your brand or business. As a startup or entrepreneur, you likely understand how difficult it is to build and grow an idea into a tangible business. Bringing on investors, partners, and clients via a pitch deck should help you better accomplish your business goals.
It’s also been found that visual aids are the most effective methods for pitching an idea or business, which is why you’ll want to create a visually pleasing pitch deck that illustrates concepts and ideas in a succinct way. Keep in mind that there are different types of pitch decks to account for different audiences. As such, it’s important that you tailor your pitch deck to the intended audience. If you’re pitching your product or company to a potential investor, the entirety of the pitch needs to center around what the investor is looking for, which usually means that you will need to show the investor how their money will help your startup grow and succeed and what their expected ROI will look like.
Canvas’s Pitch Deck
What Should a Pitch Deck Include?
The most important element of creating a perfect pitch deck is to make it clear, concise, and to the point. If you find that any of the imagery or information on the slides that you create is not wholly essential towards your primary goal, you should excise this information or imagery.
In most cases, you’ll want to include enough information to stimulate interest and convey the core idea or concept with the most pertinent information. For instance, when Youtube presented a pitch deck to a venture capital firm, the first slide focused on the company purpose of Youtube, which was a short sentence that stated they wanted “to become the primary outlet of user-generated video content on the internet and to allow anyone to upload, share, and browse this content”. There’s no reason to provide more information than is necessary in a pitch deck. Doing so can distract your audience from the main point of the presentation.
When it comes to the number of slides that you should use within your pitch deck, everyone has their own magic number for the perfect amount. Pitch decks typically contain about 10-12 slides, which is considered to be the ideal number for a successul pitch.
Venture capitalist and marketing specialist Guy Kawasaki believes that you only need 10 slides in your pitch deck, which include everything from the title of your company to your go-to market plan. The slides that you should consider including in your pitch deck are described in detail below.
1. Company Vision and Overall Value Proposition
This should be a one-sentence explanation of what your business is and the kind of value you want to provide to customers. This sentence should be around 150 characters or less. Many startups describe their value proposition by making a comparison to other successful but similar companies. If you go this route, this comparison will need to be within the same industry or interests of your startup.
2. The Problem You’re Solving
No matter who you’re presenting this pitch deck to, it’s important that your business is actively looking to solve a problem. As such, you need to mention which customer faces the problem and how your product or service solves that problem. Many startups will use this slide to tell a relatable and engaging story. If you can show that the problem is a real one that customers face, you’re going to have a much easier time convincing firms that they can successfully invest in your company.
3. Primary Target Market
Use this slide to go into detail about who your primary customer is and how large the potential market may be. Try to find quantifiable data that supports the information you give on this slide. Investors will also want to see consumer spending data and similar metrics to determine current market demand. Some businesses will even divide this slide into several sections if they expect to reach multiple markets with different forms of advertising. Be specific and realistic with this slide. While being vague with your targets will likely make your potential market seem much larger, an investor or potential partner wants to be confident that you can reach the primary market and a realistic target will show that you understand your intended market.
4. The Solution
Use this slide to go into greater detail about your service or product and how it provides a solution to the problem. Explain how the product or service solves the problem that customers are facing and how your startup offers a better solution than existing incumbents. Imagery and storytelling can be very effective with this slide!
5. Your Business Model
Now that the prospective investor or partner knows what your product or service is, you will need to tell them how this product is going to generate revenue for the business. If you’re creating a content site and expect to make the brunt of your profits from advertisers, you should go into detail about why these advertisers will want to partner with you, how you’ll acquire these relationships, etc.
6. Basic Roadmap & Milestones
This is the slide where you talk about what your startup has already achieved and where you intend to go. If you’ve released your product to early adopters, this information should be noted on this slide. You could also list out some milestones that your company has reached and the ones that you expect to reach in the near future. This slide should be used to validate your product and vision for growth.
7. Market Plan
Explain on this slide how you’re going to reach the target audience and gain traction within the industry. If you’ve been working on a marketing plan and sales strategy, this information must be included on the slide and you should detail out any specifics about your plan of action to validate your approach in the eyes of your intended audience.
8. Management Team
Use this slide to explain how you and your management team are going to grow your company. Describe how the members of your management team bring unique skills to your startup and why they make great team members. Use this opportunity to mention any major investors, board of directors, and board of advisors that may be involved with your business.
9. Financial Projections
This slide is designed solely to highlight your financials, which includes your sales forecast, cash flow forecast, and profit and loss statement for at least several years (or you can display projected financials). Try to limit this information to easy-to-read charts that makes the data easier to digest for your audience.
10. Competitive Analysis
Even if you believe your company to be wholly unique, there will be some competition that you will need to contend with. Use this slide to show how your idea or product stacks up against the competition and why customers will choose to go with your product. Try to illustrate where your brand positions your product or service and what differentiates your product or service from the competition.
11. Use of Funds
This final slide is likely the most important of the group. If you’re trying to raise money, use this slide to detail how much money you need and what this funding will help your startup accomplish. Investors need to know that their funding will do for your business and how it will help you reach your business goals.
Additional Recommendations to Include in Your Pitch Deck
While there’s some basic information that everyone should include in their pitch deck, you can also provide some additional information that might appeal to different audiences. For instance, if you’re seeking funding from a venture capital firm, you might want to provide them with a possible exit strategy, which is when they would get their money back.
The primary exit strategies for venture capital firms include IPOs, mergers or acquisitions, and via a company buyback of stock. If you’re making this pitch in person, you should definitely plan to have a demo of your product that the prospective investor or partner can sample. If you already have partners in your business, consider bringing them along to the pitch, which could help you convince another partner to join.
Quick Tips For Building the Perfect Pitch Deck
When you’re trying to make the perfect pitch deck, subtle changes to your pitch deck can make a big difference when it comes to how successful you are. From font changes to small design alterations, there are numerous ways that you can turn a decent pitch deck into a fantastic one. Some quick tips that will help you improve the appearance and clarity of your pitch deck include:
- Tell a personable story about your startup
- Only display one primary idea per slide
- Use the same color, font, and size format across every slide
- Keep bullet points to a minimum
- Don’t create too many slides
- Use imagery regularly to keep content interesting and engaging
- Be fully prepared to answer questions about any slide
- Use large fonts to make the content more readable
Free Resources for Building Your Pitch Deck
A pitch deck can be an invaluable tool to any startup. Make sure that you do your research and you’ll be on your way to preparing the perfect pitch deck and increase your odds at success for you and your business!