A pitch deck is a brief presentation providing your audience with a quick overview of your business. Concerning startups, founders are pitching for funding from angel investors and venture capitalists (VCs). Raising outside capital can occur at various stages but usually happens when cash becomes a constraint to your business’s growth and scale.
The deck is a vehicle to either get to the first meeting or a follow-up with an interested investor. As Mark Suster, General Partner at Upfront Ventures, says, “Your deck should be so good that a VC asks you for permission to show it to your portfolio companies.”
The deck’s structure and sequence may vary depending on the audience, but I believe it should follow fundamental guidelines that I’ll delve into below.
Why Pitch And To Whom
Regardless of stage, a pitch deck for raising funding and awareness about your business. The founder is the best person to present the deck as she knows its ins and outs.
A pitch deck is typically ten slides and is for pitching to:
How To Stand Out
An excellent way to stand out is to tell a story supported by the right outline. You are hooking them from the beginning by sharing your worldview with a concise message and being persuasive. Help the audience understand who the customer is, what you are doing for them, and how you are doing it. Make it personal by ending your pitch with a call to action directly to your audience.
What Goes On The Slides
Your slides’ content depends on your business, stage, and who you’re pitching to at the time. An excellent framework to use is the Lean Canvas. The building blocks of the Lean Canvas can help you sequence your pitch deck outline.
Your outline might include the following slides:
- Product Demo
- Business Model
- Market Opportunity
- Appendix (extensive financials)
Whether in private or on Demo Day, investors are looking for holes and areas to disprove your business model. According to Gust, angels invest in 2.5% of the companies they evaluate. Venture Capital firms invest in 1% of the companies they consider.
Investors have limited time so avoid:
- Sharing too much information
- Sounding like a used car salesman
- Emailing repeatedly
- Putting too much content on each slide
- Making it too long
- Being unprepared
Tools For Creating Your Pitch Deck
Delivered by email:
Face-to-face, share screen, online meetings:
Startup Pitch Deck Example
Target Arm, a recent graduate of the Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars, is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). They’ve built the world’s first and only Universal Launch and Recovery (ULaR) platform enabling autonomous launch and recovery of both rotary and fixed-wing drones from any moving vehicle, and even during high wind conditions. At Techstars, like most accelerators, the 12-week program culminated in a final pitch called a Demo Day. Below is Target Arm’s online pitch to hundreds of global investors this summer:
The audience is hooked from the beginning with images and videos. The pitch is a good reflection and refinement of Target Arm’s value proposition, business model, traction with customers, and the future roadmap. Furthermore, the founder spoke clearly and got his message across in under five minutes!
Alex Iskold, Managing Director at 2048 Ventures, once said, “there are several ways to build an investor deck…but there is no perfect way, of course.” This is just my take on what I like to see in pitch decks. Share your deck with your team and mentors. Get as many reps as possible before pitching to your target audience. The main takeaway is to show that you understand your business, who your customers are, and serve them better than competitors in as few words as possible.