What is a pitch deck?
The pitch deck is a presentation that entrepreneurs put together when seeking a round of financing from investors. On average pitch decks have no more than 19 slides.
As described in my book, The Art of Startup Fundraising, ultimately founders need two different sets of pitch decks. One version will be with a lot of text and information which will be shared with people via email. The other version will be the pitch deck that entrepreneurs present to investors in person with more visuals. Having more visuals will contribute to having investors focused on you.
A demo day presentation, for example, should be very visual and contain very little text. It’s going to be seen from afar and you’re going to do all the talking. On the other hand, a pitch presentation that you’re planning to email should be completely self explanatory. It’s going to be seen on a laptop monitor, so small font is not so bad.
In these cases it’s also very useful to track your investor’s activity on the presentation, to figure out if they actually read the 100% of the slides; this can be critical when determining the frequency for follow up emails. In our case, it was key to raising our most recent round of funding. A number of pitch deck platforms offer this as a feature.
Get the necessary tools
There are a lot of ways to create your pitch deck. You can use Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote, which are both readily available. Keynote is free on Apple computers. If you’re using an iPad or just want a simple way to create a pitch deck online, Canva is an excellent tool. It has pre-designed templates that you can customize. Your pitch also gets saved to your online account so you can work on it anywhere. I’m a big fan of Canva, so I’ll be using it for this step-by-step tutorial. You can follow along and create your pitch deck in any program of your choice.
Putting together your deck
Slide 1: Logo/Mission/Positioning Line/Founders
- This slide is your elevator pitch. In 15-20 seconds or less, you should convey a sense of excitement, while getting across to investors that you are “investment ready.” For best results, make this emotive, using images and logos where you can. Use your positioning line to convey your mission and vision.
- If you’re an unknown quantity to these investors, describe your management team upfront, being honest about skill gaps (Keep in mind that it’s a lot riskier for investors to invest in a solo founder versus in a team of at least 2).
Slide 2: The Problem We Solve
- Keep this one simple: zero in on the core problem and clearly state it.
Slide 3: The Solution
- You want to “show rather than tell,” by focusing on how users interact with your solution and offering examples. Again, using images (for instance a screenshot of your software) or logos to take investors through a process flow will make you more effective and convey necessary information in the most efficient way.
Slide 4: The Market Size
- This is the first slide where VCs can assess whether your team members are product people only or whether they also demonstrate business experience and savvy. You need to demonstrate an understanding/analysis of the true market size and not just paint a picture of a huge total addressable market. Hit it out of the park by helping investors quantify the investment potential of the market niche you plan to hone in on.
Slide 5: The Product/Technology Architecture
- Show how your solution works from the user perspective and how everything (API, algorithms, etc.) ties together.
Slide 6: IP/Defensibility/Scalability Chart
- Describe this as concisely as you can, but be sure to answer: Where’s the differentiator? What makes your IP defensible? What’s your strategy for protecting it (patents, trademarks, other)? How will it scale?
Slide 7: Go To Market/Distribution
- Cover basic blocking and tackling here by explaining how you’ll go to market/distribute your product. You need to have a handle on cost and be prepared to answer questions re strategies for each stage as well as the relative cost-intensity of different options.
Slide 8: Competitor Matrix
- Don’t dismiss competitors. The good thing about having them is that it validates the market for your product/solution!
- The key thing to convey is that you’re informed and in touch with the market. Use a matrix to show competitors’ weaknesses and strengths and your distinctive advantage.
Slide 9: Revenue Projections
- The best way to get behind the numbers is by creating a bottom-up forecast so that you clearly understand the operating expenses, customer acquisition costs, and people resources required to execute your plan.
- Then, be sure you know your assumptions cold (these can go in an appendix) and are able to speak to them.
Slide 10: The Advisors
- Advisors are important, especially if you don’t have much of a management team in place yet. Why? They give you confidence and, when the going gets tough, a supportive shoulder.
- Look for advisors you personally like and can professionally benefit from. Give them a little equity (up to ¼ of 1%), lock them in for 12-24 months, and set clear objectives (for example, ½ day a month of their time or x number of introductions) and demonstrable quantitative results for their involvement.
Slide 11: Use of Funds
- Have a realistic sense of the right amount of money to raise: enough to get you to the next critical inflection point. In other words, milestone funding. That means aiming for an amount that will give you 12-18 months of runway, including a cushion for pivots and delays. If you’re struggling with this, your advisors, including accountant or CFO, can help you size a round.
- Put your ask upfront. Know that for A or B rounds with VCs, you will be giving up at least 20% of your equity. This could rise to 35-40% if you’re looking to get a meaningful round done.
Slide 12: Exit Strategy
- Not every deck includes this, but presenting your strategy shows investors you’re thinking ahead to eventually monetizing the business and returning their money with a premium.
we here at MECH are experts at pitch deck design let us know how far along your company is maybe we can help