Creating a good pitch deck and presenting it well is a crucial step for a startup looking to secure venture capital or other forms of funding. Especially for early-stage startups, building an impressive deck can feel like a struggle: you might not yet have a big amount of data to use as a communication tool or this might be the first pitch deck you’re building in the first place.
Here are some tips to get started and some pitch deck examples you can take inspiration from.
A great pitch deck tells a story
The pitch deck is the company’s chance to make a strong first impression, share its narrative and make a case for why an investor should invest. When raising funding, there are two key elements: traction and narrative. In the beginning, you rarely have any traction, so you should focus on narrative.
Investors are always interested in understanding the opportunity, and a good narrative explains why you have a great opportunity someone should invest in. You need to make a point that there is a pain in the market craving for a solution.
Something in your background, e.g. your work experience, should tie to how you have discovered this opportunity: maybe you have experienced the problem yourself or have noticed it when working with your potential customers.
In best cases, you can also quantify the value you’re bringing to your future customers. How many hours are spent today on the task your automating? How many euros would companies benefit if they could cut their costs on the area you’re working on? This signals that there will actually be a willingness to pay before you are able to show paying customers.
Finally, your narrative should tell why your team has what it takes to solve this problem in the near future. Maybe something is changing in the technologies used or there is an opportunity in the market no one is taking on yet? Or perhaps you are the first ones to spot this problem? Do you have a unique technology or data set no one else has, or exquisite talent?
If you want more insight into market and differentiation, you can check out this blog post about future markets and external waves to ride on.
Once you have built your narrative, you can build your deck around it. There’s no one size fits all solutions: in some cases, explaining a complicated industry takes more slides, and in some cases, you can focus more on how you have created a ten times cheaper technology that is 10 times more accurate. For the structure, you can take inspiration from the pitch deck examples at the end of this post.
Dos And Don'ts
- Keep it simple. If you have trouble explaining something, try to use an example — e.g. what people did before your product existed and what will they do after it exists. This often works better than complicated infographics or cramming too much information in one slogan.
- Talk about your team. Make sure to highlight relevant previous experience and share what you are great at. At the early stage, your team is one of your strongest selling points.
- Teach the investors something so that they understand why the pain is so big or the market opportunity so huge. You should know the area better than the investors, so go ahead and share your knowledge about e.g. user behavior, market, and competitors. This makes you stand out: too many pitches seem like anyone could have come up with them.
- Use data. Don’t just say “we’re the fastest” — say “we’re the fastest — we give answers in 2 seconds and our best competitor in 1 minute”.
- Use too many buzzwords or try to come up with new words for what you are doing.
- Try to include absolutely everything. There can be a temptation to try and share every feature of your product, answer questions no one has asked and go through all possible use cases and possible industries to expand to. This just makes your deck and core message confusing.
- Use imaginary examples. Use real users and real use cases, so you know the details and can answer further questions.
Five great pitch deck examples
Here are some examples of companies whose pitch decks are exceptionally strong. Take note of how they are different, yet still accomplish the same goal: telling a compelling narrative to attract capital.
- Lexyom: In just nine slides, this AI-driven legal automation company demonstrates the current legal marketplace, its metrics, business model, competitive advantages and team in a clear and easy to understand way.
- Orchard: The smartphone security company’s pitch deck clearly demonstrates the market opportunity, sales funnel and more without cluttering the pages with too much text.
- Wealthsimple: The Canadian online investment manager clearly explains the investing landscape, the product, the market opportunity, team, advisors. The link provides additional commentary and tips from the founder on creating a winning pitch deck.
- AirBnB: This deck from the company’s seed round is concise and covers the problem, solution, market validation, market size, product, business model, adoption strategy, competition (although the company used the dreaded quadrant illustration it was backed up by a slide covering competitive advantages), team, press, and user testimonials.
- Pluto AI: The smart water management company has a short deck but does a great job of emphasizing the problem and why its product is needed.