If you’re looking for investors to fund your business, what you need is a well-prepared pitch deck. Most of you probably have at least a vague idea of what pitch deck is. It can be summed up as a short presentation that showcases your business, product, plans, or services to potential investors. The main goal of a pitch deck is to sell whatever it is you’re offering, to make potential investors interested and willing to invest. However, it is worth mentioning that you probably won’t get funding right away.
Be prepared to give out and send out a lot of pitch decks before somebody decides to fund your startup or project, and remember that a great pitch deck is not about getting someone to invest right away. It usually takes a few meetings for investors to make that decision, so what you want to achieve with your pitch deck is getting an invitation to another meeting. Negotiations often start with a pitch deck, so you have to make sure that what you’re presenting in person or sending out by email ticks all of the boxes.
Firstly, if you want your pitch deck to be successful, follow these three rules:
Now, this sounds simple enough, but once you start working on your first pitch deck you might realize that you don’t really know how to achieve this. You can try coming up with your own structure for a pitch deck, but why would you do that when there’s already one that has worked for many startups and entrepreneurs before you? It is believed that a great startup pitch deck includes the following information:
Why? Simply, because all of this information is necessary if you want to give someone a reason to fund your business or project.
If you’re looking for help in creating a successful pitch deck, below you’ll find tips on how to do that and what to focus on, followed by startup pitch deck examples. And if you have a great idea for a product but you’re not sure where to start, a Product Discovery Workshop might help you get there.
Each group of people has its own needs and you should take these needs into account. While preparing your pitch deck, keep in mind to whom you are pitching your business, idea, or product.
Investors need to know that their investment in your business or product will bring them some gain. That’s why showing them the problem and the solution or the potential team will be meaningless if you don’t show them a working business model as well.
Proving to them that they will get some kind of return on their investment might be just what they require to justify sharing their resources with you.
For example, if you’d like to pitch the same business or project to potential employees, customers, or partners, you should consider both what you need from them and how can you fulfill their wishes in order to get their approval.
Keeping your audience in mind and reviewing your pitch deck from their perspective can help you achieve your goal — whether it’s to acquire funding or get the approval of the board or a business partner.
So, what else do you need to add to your pitch deck to fulfill the specific requirements of potential investors? For starters, you might want to add information about the amount of money you will need and when you will need it. Does your business require one big upfront investment or a number of smaller ones made over some years? Answer the question of how the money will be spent and what kind of resources your business requires. Bear in mind that resources don’t always mean money.
The last thing that you should remember to include in your pitch is multiple forms of contact information in case someone wants to reach out to you to ask you more questions or get more information.
It might seem obvious, but before going into details you should reserve a slide to present the fundamental principles of your company, the evolution that it underwent, and its values and mission. You want investors to have a full grasp of what your company stands for. This is also important for you; knowing the purpose of your company will help you clarify the problem you’re solving and the solution that you’ve introduced for it.
However, you don’t want the introduction of your company and its purpose to take up more than one slide. In fact, you want to make it as short as you can while also making sure that you include all of the aforementioned information.
If you want to make your company’s business model clearer to your audience, you might try comparing it to some big company that is already well-known, such as Netflix or Youtube. However, if you’re comparing your company to another, you have to know exactly what distinguishes your idea from the one that’s already popular to not create a feeling of copying something that’s working.
Showing that your idea is unique while making it seem like there’s a strong need for it on the market may get you a ticket to funding.
If you’re unable to sum up your company in one sentence, you can create an “overview”, like the one prepared by Slack:
Sometimes you can even use quotes to give people a better idea of what you believe is the mission or purpose of your company, as Buffer did:
Think about the problem and its solution:
As was already mentioned, giving investors a reason to back your business is crucial for your investor pitch deck. Money is a strong motivator — if you prove that your business or project is beneficial, you will at the very least capture their attention. That’s why it’s so important to undertake solid research and prepare as much data and numbers as you can for your pitch.
Try illustrating your progress and growth, milestones, anticipated revenue, and the expenses and earnings of companies with a similar business model with data and numbers. This will make your pitch more reliable and solid.
If you show your progress in numbers, you’ll give the potential investors a clearer view of your growth and what can they expect in the future if they invest in your business or project.
Having in mind the tips we’ve just shared with you, you probably now have a vague idea of how to start creating your pitch deck. However, there are still some important questions that you will have to answer and incorporate into your pitch deck — questions that can be decisive for the potential investor.
Let’s think back to one of the very first slides that Buffer introduced in their pitch deck — the one that we’ve already seen above. It states right away that social media is the most important trend and underlines the fact that the amount of social media users and posts increases every year, and highlights the importance of social media marketing. Airbnb chooses a little more direct approach, showing numbers:
Facebook, which started as a student-dedicated portal, went for statistics as well:
In short, to create this part of your own pitch deck you’ll have to answer these questions: How many people are struggling with this problem and looking for a solution? How many customers exist for your product or service?
One of the most important questions for potential investors is:
How do you plan to make money?
As was already stated, proving that they will see some return on their investment plays a crucial role in convincing them to fund your business or project. You have to show that you know exactly what you’re doing and how you’re going to earn money, as well as what role their money will play.
Showing potential investors that you have something unique to offer, something that they won’t find anywhere else, can heighten the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out), thus making them more likely to invest. Think about your value and come up with the things that only you can bring to the project or business. Make it seem that there are certain things that you and your team can deliver in a way that no other team would. You’re not only solving the problem — you’re also the only one that can solve this problem, because of your expertise or because of the tool, application, or system that is only developed by your enterprise.
If there are other companies that are solving your problem — make it seem that whatever they are doing, you’re going to do it better. Your idea will make this problem smaller, will fix it quickly or the effects will last longer. You shouldn’t avoid talking about your competition, because you may end up being perceived as untrustworthy. Being honest about it is a better idea. Not only because of the possible funding but also because you need to know what your competition is and how you are going to beat them if you want to succeed. So answer yourself: Who else is solving this problem for your customers? Who are your main competitors, and how are their businesses performing?
Only after answering these will you be able to come up with what we’ve talked about above — why are you better than your competition, what differs your idea from theirs and why it’s you who should get the funding and not them.
Here is an example of a competition slide of a winning pitch deck from Canva’s Pitch Deck that was used to raise $9m series-D from River Cities Capital Funds:
And from the “Castle”:
While thinking about what sets you apart from your competition and makes your company the one worth investing in you may consider your expertise and proprietary tech but you might also bring up your team. If you hire experienced, talented professionals, you should definitely show them off in your Pitch Deck. In a team slide of your pitch introduce your team, show their strengths, and talk about their experience.
While writing and then presenting your Pitch Deck you cannot forget what you’re doing it for. It’s not just to show off or get recognition — you’re doing it to get funding. And even though it might take a few meetings and a lot more than just this one Pitch Presentation, you cannot lose your focus. Your mind should always be set on getting the funds that you need. That’s why it’s important to talk about the financials, the real cost, and the expected earnings.
If your business has already achieved some milestones and earned some money, you should definitely use that information to your advantage. Tell the potential investors how much your project has already secured. This will give them a vague idea of what they can expect from your startup or project in the future.
Finally, we’ve arrived at the most important of all of the crucial details you must talk about in your Pitch Deck. After introducing all the data, presenting your team, market strategy, business model, and so on, it’s time for you to ask the investors to take your business into consideration when it comes to investing.
More than that, you need to tell them how much money you would like for them to contribute to your project or business and what you want to spend it on exactly. After going through all of the information that you need to put in your Pitch Deck and reviewing your numbers, it should be fairly easy to figure out how much money you need and for what. And don’t just throw numbers on the potential investors — it’s better to tell a story with your numbers, a story about your business, product and customers.
“Start by visualizing simple data (such as sales, revenue, expenses, and user growth) and having an expert check it over,” says Epstein. “Once you’ve done that, work on contextualizing and explaining that information… You always want your commentary to corroborate and elucidate your data, showing investors that you have a complete understanding of how your business runs.”
As you can see, your Pitch Deck should be well-detailed and contain a lot of information on quite a few subjects that the potential investors might take an interest in. Having said that, you should do everything in your power to make it as short as possible.
“Investors reviewing pitch decks spend 23 percent of their time on the financial slides, so it can be tempting to fill them with every figure and projection imaginable. You’ll want to steer clear of this bait, however,” says Eli Epstein of CoFoundersLab. “Investors aren’t interested in a barrage of numbers that are really just broad estimates. Instead, they seek honest projections (even if it isn’t hockey stick growth) and a thoughtful analysis of how you calculated them and how you plan to achieve them.”
If you want to learn more about what to do to ensure that your Startup doesn’t fail, take a look at our article on 7 SaaS Startup Software Development Challenges which includes tips from successful entrepreneurs.