How To Make a Pitch Deck That Will Win Over Any Pool of Investors

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How To Make a Pitch Deck: Essential Skills for CEOs

A well-crafted pitch deck (sometimes called a slide deck) is one of the most powerful weapons in any entrepreneur's arsenal. Your pitch deck serves as a visual narrative that offers a concise yet comprehensive overview of your business to potential investors. 

What Is the Main Purpose of Developing a Business Pitch?

The main purpose of developing a business pitch for investors is to present a concise and compelling case for the value and growth potential of your startup, with the goal of persuading them that their support will contribute significantly to the success of the venture.

In this article, we’re going to get into the process of creating an effective pitch deck. We’ll show you how to develop a deck that not only captures attention but truly resonates with investors and gets them excited about contributing venture capital to your business. We’ll explore successful pitch deck ideas and examine each aspect of an effective pitch deck to help you navigate the many complexities of a fundraising pitch. Let’s get started.

Understanding Investors

Before we move full-steam-ahead into untangling the question of what is a pitch deck, you need to understand a few critical points about investors.

Identifying Potential Investors

First of all, it's essential to identify potential investors who are interested in your industry and aligned with your startup's goals. This will involve meticulous research into potential investors' current investment portfolios and past funding activities. Focusing on investors who have a history of investing in businesses like yours increases the likelihood of capturing their attention and fostering a genuine interest in your venture.

Tailoring Your Pitch To Different Audiences

Not all investors are the same, and tailoring your pitch to different audiences is a good strategic move. Angel investors, venture capitalists, and other types of investors have varying priorities and expectations. Crafting a pitch deck that addresses the specific priorities of each group can greatly improve your chances of success.

Invest plenty of time in learning about the preferences and expectations of your target investors. For example, you can analyze successful pitch decks within your industry to identify common elements that resonate with investors, then incorporate these proven strategies into your pitch deck to enhance its effectiveness.

Key Elements of a Compelling Pitch Deck

Your pitch deck should be tailored to your industry, your business, and the investors to whom you’re pitching. However, most successful pitch decks share a similar core framework:

1. Cover Slide: Making a Strong First Impression

Your cover slide is your pitch deck's first impression — like a visual handshake with potential investors. Make it as impactful as possible by incorporating your brand identity and utilizing engaging visuals to spark immediate interest. Remember, an appealing cover slide sets the tone for the entire presentation.

2. Problem Statement: Defining the Market Need

Clearly articulating the problem your business addresses is the most fundamental aspect of your pitch deck. Investors need to understand the market need and the pain points your solution aims to alleviate. Use data, statistics, and real-world examples to emphasize the significance of the problem and lay the groundwork for the necessity of your solution.

3. Solution: Presenting Your Unique Product or Service

Once the problem is established, transition seamlessly into presenting your solution by clearly and succinctly communicating your product or service’s unique value proposition. Highlight features that set it apart from competitors and make sure that investors grasp what makes your venture a compelling investment.

4. Market Opportunity: Demonstrating Growth Potential

Investors are primarily interested in opportunities with substantial growth potential. With this in mind, you should devote a section of your pitch deck to illustrating your business’s market opportunity. Provide insights into market size, trends, and revenue projections, and back up your claims with credible market research. The idea is to paint a vivid picture of your venture’s potential for scalability and long-term success.

5. Business Model: Explaining Revenue Generation

Detailing your business model is the next crucial step in building up investors’ confidence. Explain clearly how your product or service generates revenue, outline your pricing strategy and sales channels, and highlight any unique approaches to monetization. By sharing a well-defined business model, you can communicate a strong understanding of your industry’s financial dynamics and make an excellent case for the sustainability of your venture.

6. Traction: Proving Market Validation

Investors who are putting their venture capital on the line usually want some kind of validation that your business concept works in the real world. It’s a good idea to include in your pitch deck any evidence of traction you have so far, whether in the form of user adoption, partnerships, revenue milestones, or any other proof of momentum in your target market. Highlight your business’s key achievements and your most significant milestones to further reinforce the notion that your venture is growing and poised for success.

7. Team: Showcasing Your Capable Leadership

Investors don’t just invest in ideas but also in the people behind them. Dedicate a slide in your pitch deck to introducing your core team, emphasizing their experience and expertise in their respective areas, and communicating their passions for the venture. Highlight team members’ unique roles, emphasizing the way each person plays a key part in the success of the business.

8. Financial Projections: Painting a Promising Future

Financial projections are another critical component of any pitch deck. Outline realistic and data-driven financials that demonstrate a firm grasp of your business’s cash flow. Be prepared to discuss your assumptions and projected growth trajectories, and to address any potential challenges that investors bring up. Demonstrating transparency around your venture’s financials is a good way to instill confidence in investors regarding its potential profitability.

9. Ask: Clearly Defining Your Funding Needs

Don’t forget that your ultimate goal with your pitch deck is to secure funding from investors for your startup. When you make the ask, don’t be afraid to be explicit about your funding requirements. Articulate in clear terms how much capital you are seeking and how you plan to use it. Providing a clear breakdown of your funding needs shows investors that you have a well-thought-out plan for utilizing their investment effectively.

10. Vision and Mission: Inspiring Confidence

Conclude your pitch deck by reiterating your mission and long-term vision for your company. Don’t forget to emphasize the broader purpose and impact of your venture and include more than just immediate financial returns in your long-term vision. Aligning with investors around common goals for the business is a great way to solidify their interest in investing.

Crafting an Engaging Story

One of the best ways to craft an effective pitch deck is to approach it like the story of your company. Here are a few ways to incorporate a compelling story within your pitch deck:

Developing a Narrative Flow

Aim to create a seamless narrative that guides investors through the journey of your business. A well-structured story makes it easier for investors to connect with your vision and understand the evolution of your venture. The narrative should unfold logically, building anticipation and excitement as it progresses.

Storytelling Techniques for Impact

Leverage storytelling techniques that resonate emotionally with your audience. For example, you can include customer testimonials to humanize the story and convey the passion for solving a problem that drives your venture. Effective storytelling fosters a deeper connection with investors and makes your pitch more memorable.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

While storytelling is a powerful tool, be careful to avoid common pitfalls such as exaggeration or overpromising in the name of crafting a better story. Always maintain authenticity in your storytelling — don’t sacrifice brand credibility for the sake of narrative.

Design and Visual Elements of a Pitch Deck

The visual appeal of your pitch deck is as important as its content. Your pitch deck should be eye-catching without being overwhelming or hard to read.

Slide Layout and Aesthetics

Choose a clean and professional slide layout that emphasizes readability. Consistent aesthetics, including font choices and color schemes, contribute to a cohesive and visually pleasing presentation.

Effective Use of Images and Graphics

Integrate images and graphics in strategic ways to complement your message. The visual elements you include should not only be eye-catching but also relevant to your pitch, helping to reinforce key points and create a more engaging and memorable presentation.

Typography and Color Scheme

Select a legible font and a complementary color scheme that aligns with your brand identity. Ensure that all text contrasts well with the background it’s on to improve readability. Keep typography and color scheme consistent throughout the whole pitch deck to contribute to a more polished and professional look.

5 Real-Life Examples of Successful Pitch Decks

You can learn a lot by studying real-life pitch deck examples. Here are five examples of pitch decks used by real startups that worked to get them funded:

1. Stych

Stych's pitch deck is a model of simplicity. It conveys the company’s value proposition clearly and directly, making it easy for investors to grasp the core concept at a glance.

2. Nylas

Nylas’s pitch deck leverages compelling statistics and data evidence to underscore the market need for its solution. This data-driven approach reinforces the credibility of their pitch.

3. Catch

Catch's pitch deck follows a classic problem/solution structure, immediately addressing the market need and presenting their solution. This straightforward approach is effective in capturing investor attention and drawing attention to revenue potential.

4. Softr

Softr's pitch deck weaves a customer-centered story into the pitch by including testimonials from actual users. By emphasizing the real-world impact of the product, the pitch humanizes the business and creates an emotional link with investors.

5. Morty

Morty's pitch deck focuses on its growth potential and its differentiation strategy. The pitch clearly articulates early success with a unique positioning angle, helping to capture investor interest and instill confidence.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Making a Pitch Deck

Crafting a pitch deck can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Here are some common pitfalls to steer clear of when building your pitch deck:

1. No Coherent Narrative

Lack of a coherent narrative can leave investors confused and disengaged. Ensure that your pitch deck tells a compelling and logical story, guiding investors through the journey of your business.

2. No Long-Term Vision

Focusing solely on short-term gains without presenting a long-term vision can limit investor confidence. Clearly articulate your vision for the future, showcasing the sustainability and growth potential of your venture.

3. Too Much Information

Overloading your pitch deck with excessive information can overwhelm investors. Keep the content concise and focused on key messages for a more impactful and memorable presentation.

4. Poor Understanding of Investors

Failing to understand the preferences and expectations of your target audience can result in a misalignment between your pitch and investor interests. Thoroughly research your potential investors and tailor your pitch deck accordingly before each new pitch meeting.

5. Poor Market Positioning

Inadequate positioning within your target market can diminish the value potential investors see in your venture. Clearly define your market position by highlighting what sets you apart from competitors and emphasizing your unique value proposition.

6. Underwhelming Team Slide

Neglecting to showcase the capabilities and expertise of your team can severely erode investor confidence. Invest time in crafting a compelling deck slide about your team that highlights the strengths and qualifications of your leadership, and include it near the beginning of your pitch.

7. No Clear Funding Ask

Ambiguity regarding funding needs leads to missed opportunities. Always remember to clearly define the amount of funding you’re asking for and specify how you will use the capital to fuel growth.

How to Make a Pitch Deck: Key Takeaways

A compelling pitch deck is more than a formality — its strategic tool that significantly impacts your ability to get the funding from investors that your startup needs. Every component of your pitch deck plays a crucial role, from target audience, to storytelling elements, to aesthetic design, and more.

Learning from real-life examples of successful pitch decks is one of the fastest ways to improve your own pitch deck. Don’t forget to review the pitch examples provided above and use them to inspire your own pitch deck design and strategy.

Similarly, you can get advice on your pitch deck from an experienced advisor who has had success raising funds for their own companies. Mentorship from a fellow entrepreneur, or even from an investor, can be instrumental in helping you improve your pitch deck and get the funding you need to grow your business.

Get 1:1 advice from Pitch Deck Expert

T Zhu

T Zhu

Co-Founder & CEO - Tellus
Fintech & Proptech Expert

Tellus
Zazzle

T Zhu is the co-founder of Tellus, a smart savings platform powered by real estate backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Alumni Ventures and Decent Capital. He previously founded and scaled a number of companies, including Sodacan, a social consumer mobile app startup that released Sip, an anonymous, location-based photo sharing app (top 50 on the US App Store), and More Corn (acquired by Answers.com) a Facebook apps company that was the seventh largest developer on the Facebook Platform. Zhu is a Stanford University graduate who enjoys assisting both technical and operational founders with their day-to-day, scaling/growth, cultural, and execution challenges.

Raised $25M
a16z
Top 50 App Store
More Corn (acq.)
Stanford University
See pricing & availability
Alexandra Zatarain

Alexandra Zatarain

Co-Founder - Eight Sleep
Y Combinator Alum

Eight Sleep
Y Combinator

Alexandra Zatarain is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Brand and Marketing at Eight Sleep, the world's first sleep fitness company. Eight Sleep solves sleep's most pressing issues through innovation and cutting-edge technology. The Pod, its best-selling product, has a cult-like following among business leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and professional athletes. Among many others, the Pod is the preferred sleep accessory of CrossFit 2021 and 2022 champion Justin Medeiros and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team. The company has raised $160 million from investors such as General Catalyst, 8VC, Founders Fund, Craft Ventures, and Khosla Ventures among others. Alexandra was named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list in Consumer Tech in 2017, and to Inc.'s Top 100 Female Founder's list in 2020.

Raised $160m+
Forbes 30 Under 30
CrossFit
Formula 1
Inc. Top 100
See pricing & availability
Jacob Jaber

Jacob Jaber

Co-Founder & Chairman - Philz Coffee
Retail Expert

Philz Coffee
TPG

Jacob Jaber is the Co-Founder & Chairman of Philz Coffee. As CEO for nearly two decades, Jacob grew Philz from the original coffee shop in San Francisco's Mission District to more than 70 locations across the country. Jacob has raised more than $100 million in funding from investors. Jacob is also a renowned investor and advisor and was named Forbes' 30 Under 30. Jacob is a pro in the consumer space, specializing in product, design, customer experience, retail, consumer technology, team building, org culture and more.

Philz Coffee
Raised $100M
Angel investor
Retail expansion
Food & Beverage
See pricing & availability