Designing the Perfect Pitch Deck
A pitch deck can make or break your entire company. Investors see hundreds to thousands of pitches a year, so how do you make yours stand out? Based on some of the top fundraising pitch decks, here are some steps.
Pitch design — how to make your pitch look super professional:
Designing your Deck
The first question is whether you’re designing your pitch deck yourself. It can seem daunting to consider all the graphs and logos that need to be designed, but you have options. Designing it yourself is by far the cheapest way to do it, and you decide exactly what you want there, but it is hard and takes a lot of time. There are different kinds of designers you can hire, such as independent contractors, big design houses, or pitch deck specialists, but these can cost thousands of dollars. Some independent contractors may not be overly familiar with the necessary slides for a pitch deck, but the more experienced your designers are, the more they cost. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on this, it is best to do it yourself, but if you don’t have a lot of time, hire a professional.
Tips from Flashpoint: Even if you use a designer, build the main structure yourself. Designers and professional storytellers can help you to take the deck to the next stage in terms of design, but eventually it’s going to be you explaining to the investors the value add of your startup.
The design should include a simple logo, and many charts and graphs. Displaying milestones on a timeline, competitors on an XY axis, and graphs is a better way to present data than just bullet points.
Useful link for finding great templates: 10 Pitch Deck Templates to Download
What slides are a must?
10–15 slides is the industry standard. Generally, seed presentations have less information to display, and thus are shorter. These decks need to sell the idea of the product more than anything else, especially because you don’t have all the numbers yet. Later rounds can be longer because you’ll have more data.
Tips from Flashpoint: Use the slides to tell a story. Make sure they’re in an order that makes sense and is easy to follow, and start with the team slide, it will be easier for you to introduce yourself in the beginning of the meeting.
Here’s some examples of great pitch decks: 17 Essential Investor Presentation Ideas.
The necessary slides are fairly simple, and generally you won’t require much more than these:
Showcasing a team with diverse backgrounds and high qualifications is a perfect way to round out your pitch deck. Investors want to see that they can trust the people in charge.
Tips from Flashpoint: Should be the first slide as long as you have some experience to show…
Feel free to frame your team as “Experienced team with experience in working together and proven track record” / “Industry experts with strong tech background” / “Seasoned entrepreneurs with proven track record”
Pitch the Problem / The need
To sell a product or service, you need to sell the problem first. The beginning of your pitch should articulate first the problem, and then how your product is the solution.
Tips from Flashpoint: Use numbers from the industry to show the need. Saying that businesses lose today 22% on average is more effective than just describing the need in words
Address all concerns immediately, while you still have your investors’ attention.
Describe your solution to the problem. Showcase the product, explain how it works, and demonstrate the value it provides.
Tips from Flashpoint: In many cases investors don’t have more than a few minutes to read the deck before the meeting. Try to add a description of the product in one sentence before getting into the small details.
Display it. Use a screenshot from your demo or wherever that makes it easier to imaging what the solution actually looks like
Convey that the market is ripe for your product. Talk about market size, market validation, and what your market strategy is.
Tips from Flashpoint: Most startups make the same mistake when it comes to presenting the market. Don’t throw a big number on the slide and add a CAGR from some market research you read — help us understand how many potential users there are, how they are segmented, and where the low hanging fruits are.
“The general rule is one business model drives the business.” — LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman
Show how you make money, but don’t show too many revenue streams, as it can look like you’re not focused enough. Showcase whether or not the business model has been successful before now, through experiments or similar models.
Tips from Flashpoint: This is the place to mention your unit economics. In many cases it’s smart to split your analysis of the clients into segments — relevant in cases where you have strategic clients and a nonstrategic revenue stream.
Investors want to see how you’re positioning yourself in the market, and that you have a niche carved out for yourself. How are you going to be better than your competition, and who exactly is your competition? Who is a direct competitor, and who is an indirect competitor? Explaining how you’re better than your competitors is the most significant part of this analysis.
Tips from Flashpoint: Get straight to the point about the most relevant competitors you have , how big they are (money raised / number of employees) and the most common solutions that users are using today (it can be a legend solution that is not a great fit for most of them but you need to explain what your potential customers are using today).
Investors want to see positive growth. Use graphs and charts to show trends moving in the right direction, such as monthly growth, monthly revenue, or number of customers. Display clear goals of how much money you need in order to progress to your goals. Show your financial projections and your expected timeline.
Tips from Flashpoint: Have all the relevant numbers ready, not just some hockey stick of forecasted revenues showing how you are getting to $100m revenues in five years, but real numbers on cash status, how much money you previously raised, MRR and one-time revenues, how much of the revenues are coming from international markets, do you have concentrated revenues in one / few clients, concession numbers from S&M efforts that make you believe you can boost the sales with more funding. Later you can decide what numbers make you look best and what you should keep in a backup.
General tips from Flashpoint
- How much text should you have? You should have enough text so the investor will understand what your company is doing, but it’s okay to leave them with some questions.
- Have backup slides. Notice what questions investors are asking and have additional slides to answer these questions for the future, with more specifics.
- Make sure everyone can understand it. If you can’t explain it to a child, you’re using too much jargon, and need to replace it with regular, easy to understand speech.
- Know your product. Don’t just read off the slides, but be able to hold a conversation in a more casual manner about it. Investors will ask you questions and you can’t look stumped just because the answer isn’t written down.
Overall, keeping the presentation neat and to the point while also presenting compelling data is the best way to reel in investors. Investors tend to be cautious, but they want to invest their money. All you need to do is convince them that you’re where their money belongs.
10 Pitch Deck Templates to Download — if you don’t have a good template
17 Essential Investor Presentations Ideas — Check out these successful pitch decks for inspiration!