Convincing the right investors to fund your business requires a great startup pitch deck that paints a clear vision of who your company is and what it aspires to become.
Creating a Successful Startup Pitch Deck
One of the most difficult aspects of creating an effective startup pitch deck is selecting which data to include. Typically, there’s either too much great data to choose from or not enough data to make a compelling argument. Either way, you need to choose information that will resonate with potential investors and persuade them to fund your startup.
Fortunately, many successful startups have already gone through this process, allowing us to identify pitch deck components that offer the most value to both investors and your business.
Here are a few helpful tips that can make your startup pitch deck more effective:
- Aim for no more than 10-12 slides
- Use a minimum 30-point font size so each slide is easy to read from across the room
- Focus on brevity—slides with a minimal word count that immediately cover the main points are easier to read and often leave a more memorable impression
- Customize your deck for each new investor that you pitch
In addition to following these best practices, there are ten essential slides that have helped many startups acquire funding. In fact, some of the most successful startups in the world have used these slides in their own pitch decks.
1. State the Company Purpose
The first slide in a pitch deck sets the stage for the entire startup pitch so it needs to make a bold impression. Investors will be looking for clarity and a defined vision of who your company is, what it does, and where it’s heading. A company purpose statement is usually just one concise sentence.
Check out Airbnb’s pitch deck purpose statement:
It’s short, simple, and effective.
2. Define the Problem & Opportunity
When you’re pitching to a room full of investors, you should focus on the one main problem that your startup can solve. It’s important to always define the problem before talking about the solution, otherwise investors might not understand the need for your solution.
Uber’s first pitch deck may not have been pretty to look at, but it framed the problem very clearly:
Use the problem slide to prove to potential investors that the issue exists and requires a solution.
3. Present the Solution
The solution slide should address how your product or service can fulfill your value proposition and solve the previously stated problem. Focus on the benefits of your solution—rather than the features of your product or service—to make your pitch more effective.
Check out how simple and effective iControl’s solution slide is in their pitch deck:
Make the solution just as clear and concise as your explanation of the problem. Also, keep in mind that the solution slide should tie in very closely with your product or services slide.
4. Discuss Market Opportunity
In order to convince investors to give you money, you need to demonstrate that there is a lucrative opportunity in the market which your startup can serve. This is the perfect slide for including a graph or some compelling industry statistics about the size, spending power, and projected growth of the market.
Choose data that can help you explain the “why now” of your solution and prove the potential demand for your products or services.
We Are Onyx created a great market opportunity slide in their pitch deck:
This slide is where you have to convince investors that the opportunity to invest in your company is too good to pass up. Use the most persuasive, dynamic data you can find.
5. Product Demonstration
Get straight to the point on this slide by including some high-quality screen grabs that demonstrate your product or service. Tell investors how it works and how it adds value to your customers’ lives. And always tie the product or service back to solving a problem or satisfying a demand.
OpenDoor created a simple, but highly effective graphic on their product demonstration slide:
While product demonstrations can be effective they can also be time-consuming. Don’t let the product demo eat up the majority of your pitch time.
6. Introduce the Leadership Team
This slide is a priority for Investors because it can help them determine what has driven you and your team to further the mission and vision of the business. Keep this slide brief and try to visually represent previous work experience when possible.
For example, Card Life nailed the Our team slide in their startup pitch deck by including logos from big name brands that each of their team members had previously worked for:
That’s a great way to prove credibility.
7. Describe Your Business Model
There are a few things you need to accomplish on this slide:
- Prove traction and provide a roadmap
- Briefly describe a marketing and sales strategy
- Explain how your startup will make money
Communicate where revenue will come from in the next 3-5 years or more and use graphs or charts to show your financial projections and growth trajectory.
The bottom line is that investors need to know your startup can be profitable enough for them to risk their money.
8. Provide a Competitive Analysis
This is one of the three most-viewed slides in a pitch deck. Carefully consider which competitors to include. Then decide how to show investors that your startup is better positioned to take advantage of the market opportunity.
Most competitive analysis slides are very basic. Many simply list their top three competitors and explain in one or two brief sentences what the competitors lack that their startup can provide.
Lighthouse did a great job showing their three main competitors while still demonstrating a market gap that they could fill:
9. Show Company Financials
This is typically the most viewed slide in a pitch deck because it gives investors solid, specific numbers they can attribute to your startup’s performance.
Even though this slide receives the highest average viewing time in pitch decks, only 57% of successful pitch decks include a financials slide. Surprising as that may be, it also provides an opportunity to stand out if you can build a compelling financial slide into your pitch deck.
Cladwell is a great example of a compelling, minimalistic financials slide:
10. Discuss the Amount Being Raised & How Funds Will Be Used
An effective pitch deck should tell investors what the startup is looking for and how they can provide it. Share details on:
- The amount of money you’re looking to raise
- How the funds will be allocated
- What will be accomplished with the funds
- Current investors
Keep in mind that some investment firms have limitations on the amount of funds they can give you, so providing a range rather than specific amounts is acceptable.
Sell the Future
Investors are buying into the possibilities your startup holds, so you need to sell an honest, profitable vision of the future. In addition, Paul Graham—Partner and Co-Founder of Y Combinator—believes it’s important to prioritize these three elements in your pitch:
- Don’t spend time talking about secondary matters
- Use specific numbers that will stick with investors long after the pitch is over
- Tell stories about users and how you solved their needs
A study conducted by DocSend and Professor Tom Eisenmann from Harvard Business School researched 200 startups that had collectively raised $360 million. They found that the average time investors took to study a pitch deck was just 3 minutes and 44 seconds, and the average length of a pitch deck was 19.2 pages. They also discovered that seed firms tended to require fewer meetings from startups and gave more funding than angel investors, all within a shorter time frame.
Time is a precious commodity in startup pitch sessions and your deck should make a lasting impression on investors. The best pitch decks are clean and simple, get straight to the main points, present compelling information, and are easy for investors to act on.