How to Create a Stellar Pitch Deck: Complete Guide for Startups
Only 40% of startups make it to Series A. By the end of a VC funding cycle, roughly 0.01% of companies stay afloat. There are several factors that impact startups’ round-to-round survival rate, including their industry, idea, commercial potential, and product development stage. However, nailing a presentation is important, too. Here’s how to create a pitch deck investors will remember.
How to Create a Pitch Deck that will Stun Investors?
A pitch deck is a brief presentation of your business plan which is usually created in PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Slidebean, Canva, etc. A great pitch deck should contain up to 20 slides where you introduce your team and the problem you’re trying to solve, enumerate the advantages of your product, assess its market potential, ROI prospects, and the amount of funding you hope to secure.
The full list of slides may look like this:
- Company overview. Introduce your team. Tell investors where you are from, when your company was founded, what expertise you have and what you’ve accomplished already.
- Your mission & the problem your product is meant to solve. The slide should provide info about your company’s primary goal ( for example, “We want to create a mCommerce food delivery business targeting students”) and the issue you want to address (“Healthy eating is a huge problem on campus; 59% of US college students suffer from malnutrition”).
- The solution you’ve come up with. Explain what makes your food delivery app different from other solutions on the market. Name its key components (iOS and Android apps for users and couriers, a web-based admin console facilitating order management), must-have features (user profile, menu and put to cart, mobile payments, real-time order tracking) and optional features (bill splitting, option to tip couriers, live chat).
- Market research proving there is demand for your product. Here you must define your target market, estimate its value and prove your potential customers actually care for your product. If you do not intend to prepare food on site, you’d better strike a few deals with healthy food restaurants early on and feature their logos on the slide.
- Competitor analysis. With Uber Eats, Favor, Seamless and Delivery.com, you won’t be the only food delivery business on the market. Name your key competitors and identify their strengths and weaknesses. What are your competitive advantages? You should be prepared to answer questions about your rivals and have a good understanding of the business domain.
- Business model. How are you going to monetize the app (sales, commissions, partnerships)? What’s your customer acquisition strategy, cost, and lifetime value? In case you’re making a profit already, show your most recent balance sheets.
- Marketing plan. Name the marketing channels you’re going to exploit to attract app users and secure partnerships and explain your choice.
- Financials. Outline your current financial situation. How long will it take you to break even and start making a profit? Estimate your total projected revenue and expenses, including mobile application development costs.
- Investment ask. Tell investors how much money you need, what expenses the sum will cover and how long the money will last. What goals do you hope to achieve during the time?
Do’s and Don’ts of a Great Pitch Deck
Pitch deck do’s:
- Keep your presentation clear and concise: according to DocSend’s recent survey, investors only look at pitch decks for 3 minutes and 44 seconds.
- Tell a relatable story about your company and the problems you’ve encountered to establish an emotional connection with investors.
- Avoid information overload: each slide should express one idea and contain no more than six lines of text. You shouldn’t overuse bullets, too.
- Introduce the people behind your great idea. Tell about their accomplishments. Do your best to portray them in a good light.
- Make your presentation look consistent by using the same fonts, font sizes, capitalization rules and colors across all slides. Use the “All rights reserved” mark on the cover page.
- Identify the metrics that matter to your business and operate them like a pro. Cite the latest data only.
- Convince investors the market you are eyeing is full of untapped opportunities.
- Showcase your product – a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or at least an interactive prototype – during your in-person presentation. Investors expect to see something more than just a concept. Ideally, your product should be getting early traction.
- Hire skilled designers to give your presentation a professional look and feel.
- Before the meeting, make sure to email the pitch deck to investors as a PDF document.
Pitch deck don’ts:
- Do not make it too long: although the average start-up pitch contains 38 slides, investors’ attention span is just 10 slides (16-20 is the middle ground).
- Avoid using font sizes smaller than 28 points and 40 points for plain text/bullet lists and titles, respectively.
- Write a script to stay focused during the speech, but do not read it word by word.
- Make use of HQ pictures and professional-looking charts.
- Do not use acronyms and terms your investors might not know.
Success Stories: 3 Great Tech Start-up Pitch Decks Investors Keep Talking about
The now-famous accommodation company that generated $2.8B in revenue last year began with a concierge website and was processing guest requests manually. By the time they received Series A funding ($7.2M, led by Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital), they had over 700K nights booked.
Their pitch deck may look a bit dated right now, but it did feature an excellent intro; can you describe your business in just seven words?
Although it’s not YouTube’s original pitch deck, this presentation helped the video-sharing website raise $11.5M in 2006 (again, from Sequoia Capital). What can we learn from it? YouTube wanted to be a video outlet – and they made it their key focus. If you know your product well and know how to showcase its full potential, you’re on the road to success!
Your pitch deck doesn’t have to be all charts and numbers; apparently, humor works wonders, too! Manpacks, an e-commerce platform that delivers men’s grooming and clothing items, made a 12 slide presentation that explains who they and who their potential customers are. A clear focus on the product and a fun tone helped the company raise $500K back in 2011.
Although the company has since gone out of business, you can still use their hilarious slides for inspiration!
The cold hard truth about technology start-ups is that no investor wants to spend their hard-earned money on a great idea. What they need is a fully fledged business that is making money and has a solid customer base – or at least a clear product roadmap covering all stages of the start-up development processes.
Like most people, however, investors do judge a book by its cover – simply because they only have 3 minutes to study its contents! And if you don’t know how to create a great pitch deck or don’t have time for that, you’d better get professional help!