Written by Lidia Vijga
Think of your pitch deck as the trailer for your Netflix series: its purpose is to spark interest, leaving investors wanting more and ultimately leading to that crucial follow-up meeting where you can dive into the nitty-gritty details. Creating a persuasive startup pitch deck is essential to make a good impression on potential investors. This guide with pitch deck examples will provide you with all the necessary instructions and tips to create a successful startup pitch deck that will attract investors, increasing your chances of raising venture capital.
What is a startup pitch deck?
A startup pitch deck is a visual presentation that provides investors with an overview of your startup, demonstrating why they should invest in your company. It’s like the superhero of the fundraising world, swooping in to save the day when you need to convince investors to believe in your vision.
Key attributes of successful startup pitch decks
A winning investor pitch deck is like a well-coordinated orchestra where all the components work together seamlessly to create a captivating experience. However, the most crucial aspect is showcasing to investors the clarity of your vision: what you do and why you do it.
- Clear: Investors should be able to grasp your idea quickly and easily.
- Compelling: Your startup pitch deck should tell a story that hooks investors from the get-go.
- Easy to act on: Leave investors with a clear path to invest in your startup.
Tell a compelling story
Storytelling is the secret sauce that turns a good pitch deck into a great one. Weave a narrative that takes investors on a journey. Start with the problem your startup solves, show how you came up with the solution, and why you believe your team has what it takes to get the product to the market. This video by Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley based accelerator explains how angel investors and venture capitalists evaluate startup ideas.
Based on my own experience, investors resonate more with founders who have personally encountered the problem they intend to solve or have a unique insight that no one else has.
A tip when pitching your startup: If you’ve experienced the problem firsthand or you have a unique insight that others don’t, share that story with the potential investors. A hidden insight is something that you have personally uncovered on your journey, or it could be your key learnings from years of working in the field. Unique insight about your target market or industry is what makes startups in the same category different. That same hidden insight is also a great foundation for your execution and your go-to-market strategy.
Show investors you can sell that pen
At the end of the day, investors aren’t just investing in a product or concept, they are investing in you and your ability to bring that business idea to fruition. Show them that you are committed to bringing your vision to life and that you can effectively sell your idea to others. After all, if you can’t convince them, how will you convince customers?
Balance visuals with messaging
A picture is worth a thousand words, but that doesn’t mean you should cram your pitch deck with flashy visuals. Strike the right balance between visuals and messaging to create a great startup pitch deck that’s both engaging and informative. To give you an idea of how that balance looks, here is a pitch deck from Lexop, I think it has a perfect mix of visuals and branded elements paired with concise messaging.
Startup pitch deck design tips
The key to an effective design is simplicity. While it may be tempting to overload your pitch deck with graphics and complex layouts, sticking with a minimalistic approach can be much more impactful. By cutting down on clutter and focusing on the essentials, you can help your audience stay engaged and focused on your message. Here are a few tips to help you make your pitch deck visually appealing and persuasive.
- Use clean, easy-to-read fonts.
- Stick to a consistent color scheme that reflects your brand.
- Break up complex information into digestible chunks.
- Less than 30 words per page would be ideal, let the visuals do the talking.
The 10 most important slides to include in your startup pitch deck
Less is definitely more when it comes to startup pitch decks so try not to bury your potential investors under an avalanche of slides. Instead, aim for a concise presentation around 10-15 slides. Your investors will thank you for it. The overall goal is to share a compelling story and your big idea, without bullet points or text-heavy slides. Below are the 10 essential slides you should include in your startup pitch deck.
- Problem / Current Pain Slide
- Solution / Product Slide
- Why Now Slide
- Market Opportunity Slide
- Business Model Slide
- Competitive Landscape Slide
- Traction & Key KPIs Slide
- Go-To-Market Slide
- Financial Projections Slide
- Team Slide
Investor pitch deck template
Here is my favorite startup pitch deck template that I like to share with early-stage founders raising a seed round. It has a perfect structure for a slide deck and has been successfully implemented by startups to raise funding.
1. How to create the perfect problem slide
Demonstrating the significance of the problem your startup seeks to solve is vital for securing venture capital. Investors want to see that your solution addresses a real need or pain point in the market and that there is significant demand for it. You can demonstrate this by presenting compelling data, such as market research or other relevant statistics to illustrate the scale and severity of the problem.
Focus on one problem only
Even if your startup addresses multiple issues, it’s important to concentrate on one main problem. Summarize the problem on the slide, and create a one-sentence overview that concisely explains the issue you’re addressing.
It’s crucial to keep things simple and straightforward to prevent any possible confusion. This slide is significant, and if investors can’t comprehend the problem, they probably won’t connect with your solution.
Use real-life stories
As humans, we process information better when it’s presented in narratives. By giving your problem a human touch and presenting it in the form of real-life stories, you can connect with investors on an emotional level and demonstrate why solving this issue is crucial. Additionally, sharing a compelling story about the challenges your target audience and customers face can help investors truly understand the importance of your solution.
2. How to create a strong solution slide
To make the most impactful impression, it is essential to clearly link the problem with your solution. Focus only on the most important aspects of your solution that directly address the problem, and emphasize the positive impact it has on individuals or companies.
A tip when pitching your startup: When presenting your solution to investors, use simple language that can be easily understood by anyone, without relying on technical phrases or industry jargon. Think of it as explaining to a 5th grader. This will ensure clarity and avoid confusion.
Show that your solution is scalable
Investors recognize that one-hit-wonders rarely have lasting success so demonstrating your startup’s scalability is key. Show them how your solution can expand throughout the market – geographically or through product diversification.
Show a clear gap in the market
The market is already flush with solutions, but that doesn’t mean all problems have been solved. To convince investors of the need for your solution, you should explain the current solutions available in the market and their limitations. This will allow you to show a clear gap in the market and demonstrate how your solution has the potential to disrupt the industry.
3. Why Now Slide – Timing is everything
Timing is paramount when it comes to launching a successful startup. Explaining how current market conditions are ideal for your solution can help you demonstrate the significance of the opportunity and emphasize why now is the right time to make an impact. Showcase this readiness in your presentation slides.
4. How to create a market opportunity slide
Investors are looking to back the next big thing – and your market analysis can make or break that dream. Get accurate with the numbers, using sources and graphs that illustrate the size of your market realistically. Remember, honesty is the best policy. Don’t oversell your potential; investors appreciate realistic growth projections.
Position your startup within the market
Now that you’ve painted a picture of the market landscape, it’s time to show where your startup fits in. Clearly articulate your startup’s unique position within the market and outline the competitive advantages that set you apart from the pack.
Divide and conquer
To further refine your market strategy, delve into market segmentation. Discuss the specific segments your startup targets and explain how your product or service caters to the unique needs of each group. This level of detail will showcase your startup’s adaptability and strategic thinking.
TAM, SAM, and SOM
Total Addressable Market (TAM), Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM), and Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) figures will provide investors with an understanding of what opportunities lie ahead for you and how far-reaching your potential is.
To calculate Total Addressable Market (TAM) multiply the total number of potential customers by the projected annual $ spent.
For example, if you’re looking to sell your solution to car repair shops in the US (there are about 230,000 according to Statista) and you’re looking to charge them $12,000 / year (or $1,000 / month), then to calculate TAM, you need to multiply 230,000 by $12,000 which would give you a TAM of $2.76B.
Very often startup founders make a mistake and list an industry market size as their TAM so don’t make that mistake, investors will easily catch that and make one of the two conclusions: a) that you’re trying to inflate the opportunity size, or b) you don’t know your basic numbers.
To calculate the Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM), discount customers from the total pool of potential customers that may not be a good fit for your solution.
In the case above, say your solution would not be a good fit for the car repair shops that use specific payment systems, and those payment systems are used by 40% of all car repair shops in the US. Now to calculate your SAM, you simply need to multiply your TAM by 40% and subtract it from your TAM. SAM = $2.76B – ($2.76B * 40%) = $1.66B.
To calculate the Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM), consider all of the competitors in the space, try to find their market share, revenue growth by key metrics, and make an educated guess on what % of the SAM market can you realistically capture.
For our car repair shops example, if you think you can realistically capture 10% of SAM, then your SOM is $1.66B * 10% = $166M.
5. Example of a business model slide
The slide that outlines your business model is a crucial component of your presentation. Investors are less likely to invest in a startup that lacks a clear business plan for generating revenue.
Explain how your startup is / will generate revenue
A successful startup hinges on its ability to generate revenue – and investors want absolute clarity about how you plan to do it. Whether your business model is complex or straightforward, concisely explain the various ways that customers will be generating income for your venture.
6. How to create an effective competitive landscape slide
A competition slide is a crucial element that demonstrates your knowledge of competitors and showcases your startup’s competitive advantage. This is your opportunity to stand out by showcasing why your startup will perform better than the competition and win over customers.
Acknowledge the competition
Having no competitors in your industry oftentimes can raise concern amongst early-stage investors as it may suggest there is insufficient demand for your product or service, or your market may be too limited to support a profitable business.
Showing investors that you understand the market landscape while also emphasizing how your product is different conveys trust in a realistic way, so they can be sure their investment has its place on the map.
Demonstrate why customers will choose your product
When pitching your startup, it’s crucial to think about how your products or services can improve the lives of your potential customers. You need to articulate how your startup can effectively address their concerns or fulfill their requirements in a way that surpasses what your competitors offer.
7. How to create a solid traction slide
The traction slide is a crucial part of your startup pitch deck. It presents your initial achievements and provides investors with confidence that their investment is a wise decision.
Demonstrating revenue in the initial stages of your startup is a strong indication that your business has potential. To showcase your progress, share your daily/monthly growth metrics and highlight any early wins. If you don’t generate revenue yet, show the growing trend in your user base or signups for your minimum viable product (MVP). Use supporting figures and visual aids, such as graphs and charts, to help investors better understand your traction.
Showcase your milestones
Showing evidence of tangible progress and accomplishment gives potential backers confidence that they’re making an educated choice in investing in your startup. Share the exciting milestones you’ve hit, like product launches or strategic partnerships. Then give them a sneak peek into what’s in store – provide an inspiring vision of how your startup will continue to grow and innovate. Make sure they can visualize success ahead so they know that investing in you means joining something special on its way up.
8. The importance of go-to-market slide in your startup pitch deck
Creating a product is only half the battle. Understanding how to successfully launch it to the market is equally important, if not more challenging. Simply having a groundbreaking concept is not sufficient for success; it’s essential to possess the abilities to market and sell it effectively. Experienced investors know this and they will scrutinize this slide a lot.
Show your customer acquisition strategy
Your startup should have a well-defined plan for attracting and retaining customers to generate revenue. Your go-to-market strategy slide has to outline the steps you’ll take to accomplish this goal and bring your business idea to life.
TIP for Go-To-Market Slide: Use real-life examples of tactics you have tried and successfully validated.
Take a look at this slide that displays a successful tactic validated by the founder along with associated customer acquisition cost (CAC). It’s a great example slide that shows what tactic works and how much money it takes to acquire a customer. However, I personally think that given these unit economics, it may be wise to bootstrap the company.
9. How to create a financial projections slide
When it comes to crafting a pitch deck for your early-stage startup, the financial projections slide can be a bit intimidating, especially if you don’t have much in terms of real-life data to base your estimates on. Experienced investors understand that. In many cases, investors that do ask for the financial projection slide just want to see your line of thinking and your relationship with numbers.
Your numbers don’t have to be perfect! Sure, accuracy is important, but what’s even more crucial is that they make sense. And if you’re struggling to come up with solid financial projections, try to analyze your competitors or similar companies in your industry and see if you can find any relevant data. Using those numbers to build a better financial model can do wonders in impressing potential investors.
If you are building a software as a service (SaaS) company, I highly recommend that you watch interviews with startup founders on Nathan Latka’s YouTube channel. These interviews often share go-to-market strategies for getting early traction, actionable insights, case studies, and other valuable information that will help you better articulate your value proposition and solidify your business plan.
10. Demonstrate why your team is the right fit
When it comes to startup success, there is one key element that stands out above the rest: the team behind it. Investors need to know that your startup is backed by a team with the skills and experience necessary to build the product and take it to the market. That’s why adding a team slide to your startup pitch deck is so important.
From sharing unique skill sets to highlighting past accomplishments, this slide should paint a clear picture of why your team is the ideal match for your startup. After all, when it comes to securing funding and building a successful company, having the right people in your corner can make all the difference.
Connect the dots between each team member’s expertise and the specific challenges your startup aims to tackle. By doing so, you’ll paint a picture of a well-equipped team capable of overcoming any obstacles that come your way.
Show any team gaps that need to be filled
Investors know that no team is flawless so be honest if any of the key positions remain unoccupied. Explain how you intend to locate the right candidates. This will show that you are conscious of your team’s strengths and weaknesses and you are dedicated to creating a diverse and highly skilled team. Take advantage of this chance to emphasize how acquiring seed funding will allow you to draw in top-notch talent and fill crucial positions, thereby enhancing your startup’s likelihood of success.
How to send a startup pitch deck
To effectively share a pitch deck, it’s recommended that you use a method that allows you to monitor investor engagement and maintain control over the sharing process. DeckLinks is a great option for this as it enables you to track whether your deck has been opened and how long investors are spending on each slide.
Once you design your presentation slide deck with google slides or other builder, you can make your pitch deck more impressive by adding a video narration with DeckLinks. This will help you communicate your vision with enthusiasm, confidence, and clarity – important aspects that investors often look for when evaluating startups.
A final thought – Share a good story but always leave the juice for the call
Remember the goal of the startup pitch deck is to secure a call with the investor. To achieve this, it is important to craft a captivating narrative and share a compelling story that will capture their attention and motivate them to reach out to you. Avoid divulging all the information in your pitch deck and save the juicy details for the call. After all, a little mystery can add to the allure.