A good investor pitch deck provides a brief overview of your business and helps support your pitch to prospective investors. An effective pitch deck communicates a clear picture of the problem you’re trying to solve, the solution you’re proposing, your team, traction if you have any, and the opportunity for the investor measured in market size.
Your pitch deck can be an extremely valuable fundraising tool, especially for first-time founders. Not only should it get potential investors excited about your idea and start a conversation that will hopefully lead to an investment, it will also serve as your high-level business plan and help you structure your thinking as you pitch your idea live. Including the slides and content you need while avoiding putting what you don’t need in your deck, can be the difference between a clear and digestible pitch that leads to an investment and one that falls flat. In other words, if you decide you’re going to create a pitch deck, you might as well get it right.
When it comes to actually developing the pitch deck, many founders find themselves wondering where to begin. The key here is to keep things very simple. Let’s go over how to create a pitch deck and what you should include on each slide:
Your first slide should tell your audience who you are and why you’re standing in front of them asking for money. Keep it simple and straightforward—introduce your idea in a way that piques interest but remains succinct. The name of your company and what you do in one or two sentences is often enough. Example: “Mentorcam provides access to mentorship at scale.”
Clearly articulate the reason your product exists. What problem is your business going to solve? Why does the problem need solving? Is there a lack of existing solutions to the problem? If so, what kind of opportunities does that gap create that you intend to seize? Show potential investors in a very succinct manner that you’ve thought about these questions and summarize it in a problem statement. Example: “Most of us agree that mentorship is tremendously impactful on life and business. Yet most people have never had a mentor.”
Now you need to answer the all-important question: How is your business going to solve the problem you’ve just introduced? Tell potential investors exactly how your product or service contains the solution. Focus on the value your solution provides to your customers rather than just the technical functions it performs and the features you use to solve it. Example: “Mentorcam is a marketplace where people can access high-profile mentors for 1:1 advice on professional and personal growth.”
Mention any measurable growth your business has experienced thus far. Showing potential investors that you are already meeting goals and gaining traction is better than all the projections in the world. Pick a metric that is growing rapidly if you have one, ideally revenue or sales, if not you might want to skip this slide and focus more on the team and why you are the right person(s) to solve this particular problem.
Introduce the founders behind your business and explain each person’s role. Why are these people right for your business? How are they uniquely equipped to succeed? This is your opportunity to instill confidence in your venture by showing off your team’s relevant experience and/or accomplishments. Examples here could be highlighting one founder’s unique coding ability and another founder’s ability to sell. Include any domain expertise if you have it.
Identifying your target market and its size is a critical step. Investors, especially VCs, look for opportunities that can potentially be $1b or more. Otherwise their investment strategy fails, because so many of the startups they invest in amount to nothing. They know this and because of that the startups that do succeed need to be very successful to carry the entire portfolio. That’s why startup investors take best on startups that show that IF they succeed they could be big, really BIG. It’s a simple risk/reward calculation for the investor. The market size should almost always be calculated bottom-up (not top-down). Example: “There are 90 million professional workers in our target market. Our average user spends $50 per month. This means that this is a 90m*30%*50*12 = $16.2 billion opportunity”. (Whatever the math, make sure it amounts to more than $1b.)
No matter the problem, there are probably other solutions besides yours. While not always necessary as a standalone slide and sometimes better suited for an appendix, a competition slide helps convince potential investors that your solution is far better than the others. Tell them specifically what is different about your solution and why those differences give your business an advantage. You can show this off in a competition matrix or feature list.
Potential investors want to know how your business is going to make money. You’ll need to give them some information about how your business will function and generate revenue. If your target market is highly competitive, consider highlighting how your business model improves on competitors’ business models.
It’s one thing to have a business model that is capable of generating revenue, but it's another to actually attract customers. Potential investors will want to know exactly how you plan to market your business and get your solutions in front of consumers.
Here are some final tips about how to create a pitch deck that works:
Keep your slides simple and limit them to one idea per slide. Cluttered slides that contain multiple subpoints are hard to read and will quickly lose the attention of your audience. There are some great pitch deck design tips available from Y Combinator. Pitch deck examples like these are great resources to use as you plan your own presentation.
Think of your pitch deck as a visual storytelling tool. Your pitch deck should inform your audience about your business, but it should also excite and engage potential investors. Telling your business’s story instead of focusing solely on the numbers will give you a better chance of keeping your audience interested.
It’s okay to ask for help. Building an exceptional pitch deck isn’t easy, and you might find it helpful to work from a pitch deck template. You can also talk with someone who has experience making pitch decks, or better yet, someone who has experience being pitched to.
Mentorcam gives you access to personalized advice from accomplished founders with firsthand experience in your field. If you’re struggling to create the perfect pitch deck, you can connect with a VC or funder who will evaluate your deck and leverage their expertise to help you improve it.
Discuss marketing techniques, developing a pitch, building and MVP
Co-author of Blitzscaling
Ask about careers in VC, getting funding for your startup, getting started with angel investing
General Partner – Studio VC
Discuss fundraising strategy, creating a pitch deck, finding product-market fit
Co-founder – Nurx
Y Combinator Alum
Discuss fundraising strategy, preparing a Y Combinator application, finding seed investors
CEO – Mentorcam
Y Combinator Alum