There is lots of advice and many blog posts out there on how to structure a pitch deck. However, I’m still seeing pitch decks and presentations given by even very experienced founders that are far away from what I expect as a VC.
That’s why I created a pitch deck for a fictional startup (“DoggyHut”) — a “perfect” deck that I would love to see when being pitched.
Meet DoggyHut — A totally awesome and totally made up startup:
Download the Pitch Deck in high resolution under:
SOME GENERAL THOUGHTS:
a) There is actually not a perfect blueprint for a pitch deck. The perfect content for a slide deck depends on the stage, segment and character of each individual startup as well as the recipient (each VC has its own preferences). So this is just Iskender Dirik’s idea about a perfect pitch deck for the specific startup “DoggyHut”.
b) Most founders struggle to understand the simple logic: A pitch deck is a teaser. Its goal is to create appetite and reach the next stage — and not to give a full view of everything you think could be relevant about your company. Have you ever heard of a great startup that was declined by a VC due to missing details in the pitch deck? The attention span of a VC is even shorter than you might think. Be as striking, simple and short as possible. Laser-focus on the most important aspects of your business.
“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” (Mark Twain).
If your startup is a movie, then the pitch deck isn’t even a trailer. It’s the few short seconds of teaser before the trailer even starts — a trailer for a trailer.
c) My DoggyHut Slidedeck structure-wise has a huge overlap with Sequoia Capital’s advice in “Writing a Business Plan”. Check also:
- Sequoia Capital’s commented pitch deck outline
- Dave McClure’s guide to pitch deck
- “What we Learned from 200 Startups Who Raised $360M”
- “Startup Pitch Decks: A collection of real fundraising decks from real startups. In total, these decks have raised over $400 million.”
- “Pitch deck collection from VC funded startups”.
COMMENTS ON THE SLIDES:
1. COMPANY PURPOSE
What is your mission? Condense your pitch to a simple, yet powerful sentence about the purpose of your startup.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”, Simon Sinek. Watch: Start with why — how great leaders inspire action.
I personally also love to see a simple graphic that describes your product/business model directly at the beginning. Starting with as concrete an idea about the product/solution as possible helps me to categorize and understand the information on the following slides.
See The Pyramid Principle — Lessons from McKinsey.
Give a striking overview of the challenges that you address and solve.
Time to reveal your product. Screenshot(s) preferred.
Show that you address an appealing market. Here is an explanation of the TAM/SAM/SOM concept.
However, TAM is not always the best way to highlight the attractivity of a market: Why ‘TAM’ doesn’t matter to me.
5. WHY NOW?
Timing is amongst the top reasons for startup failure. Watch The single biggest reason why startups succeed (=Timing). Show why “now” is the best time to succeed for your startup.
There is always competition, direct or indirect. Stress clearly how the competitive landscape is differentiated and what makes you unique (#defensibility #unfairadvantage #secretsauce).
7. REVENUE MODEL
How will you earn money — and who will pay for it?
This could also be titled “User Acquisition” or “Go-to-Market” (GTM). GTM is normally used in B2B and Enterprise Sales. Show ideally that you are KPI driven. An overview of your marketing channels, CAC and CLV numbers as well as payback periods indicate that you do your homework, track and monitor decisive KPIs and have at least a clear assumption how this will lead to a profitable business.
See: Understanding the value of your customer: CLV 101.
However, please note: The False Confidence Of The LTV/CAC Ratio For Early Stage SaaS Startups
Why is your team the best fit for this startup idea? Show that you have the relevant experience and skills for this business. If you have experience in working together, make this explicit. If you still need to complement your management team, make this clear.
Could also be titled “Financials” or “Traction” or be divided into two slides. The overall goal is to:
- Inform about the most important financial metrics and unit economics
- Give a rough overview about the company history and previous (and ideally also following) financing rounds
- Show traction/growth and ideally why “now” is a great (inflection) point in the company history to invest in it. This is also a good place to show your hockeystick or other striking curves/graphs that visualize your hyper growth.
Btw: Handling growth rates correctly could be tricky. Check out The problem with month-over-month growth rates by the fantastic Christoph Janz. And have a look at 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Month-Over-Month Growth Rates.
- Highlight the milestones you want to achieve with the new funding.
! Don’t forget to mention the investment sum you want to raise!
End with the overall vision you have. What is your long term goal — what should your company look like in 5 or 10 years?
Attention, guys: The deck I created is meant to be provided via email/as handout. This is not the perfect deck for a (vocal) presentation and a pitching situation! Don’t do, what most founders do: Don’t present your handout slides! Your presentation slides need much less text — you present your story, the slides just support the story, but don’t repeat it.
Check the COUP Movement if you want to learn how to deliver outstanding presentations.
Good luck. Feel free to get back to me for questions.