How to build a pitch deck with your browser

And why it’s better than slides

Brenden Mulligan is a product designer building LaunchKit, a set of tools to help mobile makers launch apps. He also works on Cluster, and previously created and sold ArtistData and Onesheet.


Pitching a product requires compelling storytelling. In the past, people relied on slide decks to help them structure and present their story. Then there was a movement to just show a demo of the product and let it speak for itself. Although we’ve found this more effective than simply showing a deck, sometimes it’s not enough.

The method I’ve recently come up with is simple: utilize the browser. Use a mix of internal and external validation to tell your story. Here’s how it works.

Gather content

I’ve found a lot of compelling visuals when showing people what we’re working on. Here’s a short list:

  • Landing pages for the products
  • Logged in demos of how the product works
  • Analytics dashboards showing traction (using Google Analytics, Chartio, etc…)
  • Tweets (ideally from influential people) showing actual users enthusiastic about the product.
  • Press about what you’re working on (or even other people’s negative press showing why there’s an opportunity)

Go through and bookmark all the pages you think will tell your story the best.

Organize the content into a linear story

Take all those links and add them to a folder in your browser, then sort them by how you want to tell the story. Structure the message in a way that shows why you’re building what your building, what you’ve built, how it’s being received, and what’s next. You can of course also add who else is building, external market conditions that make this a good opportunity, etc..

Tabs = Slides

Then, open all the links in a single browser window. As you tell your story, just move forward one tab. It’s like advancing to the next slide, except there’s dynamic content you can engage with. And the person you’re pitching will immediately know the source of the information you’re presenting, something not as clear in pitch decks.

An example

The approach I’m recommending might make a lot more sense if I actually just show you something I’ve been demoing to people recently. Below is the real example of how I demoed LaunchKit to investors about a year ago.

Blank Window

“Over the past few years, our team has shared our learnings and internal tools with the developer community.”


iOS Permissions Medium Post

“Last year we published this post on Medium and TechCrunch about how best to ask users to grant permissions in iOS apps. It’s been read hundreds of thousands of times and many have said it’s the standard for how these interactions should work. We also released a bunch of writing about Facebook login and other technical topics that were very well received.”


Screenshotter

“We also shared a tool we’d built internally to manage screenshots on the iPhone during the design process. It resonated much more than expected and was covered by TechCrunch, Cnet, and a bunch of other tech blogs, named the app of the week by App Advice, and was downloaded about 25,000 times in the first few months.”


Sketch to App Store Landing Page

“Then, a few months ago we released a Sketch template we use to create assets for the App Store. It’s a simple tool, and we expected a handful of people to use it. “


Sketch to App Store Product Hunt Page

“It was posted to and shot to the top of Product Hunt and was more upvoted than any other product posted the entire week. People went crazy over it, so we thought there might be something more to explore in this area.”


LaunchKit Landing Page

“We decided to explore releasing a set of tools we wish we had when initially building Cluster. The planned products all follow the same pattern as SketchToAppStore: simple, straightforward tools that based on our experience make launching and managing mobile apps easier.”


Review Monitor Landing Page

“The first thing we released was Review Monitor. It’s a very simple tool that posts App Store reviews into Slack, sends them via email, and makes it easy to share them on social media.”


Review Monitor Product Hunt Page

“Our launch strategy was simple: post it to Product Hunt and see what happens. Things went well. It ended up #2 for the day and one of the top products for the week. We also saw tons of people sharing Review Monitor on Twitter.”


User Stats Dashboard Month 1

“In the first month, we had about 1,500 people sign up and about 5,000 apps registered. Launch days were the best, of course, but there was continued interest throughout the month. This convinced us to release another tool.”


Screenshot Builder Landing Page

“About a month later, we released Screenshot Builder. Screenshot Builder was essentially a web version of Sketch to App Store. It lets anyone on a team, not just the designer, create gorgeous images for the App Store. It’s incredibly easy to use. Let me show you.”


Screenshot Builder Edit Page

“We’ve made this so easy. Just upload an image, choose some settings, and you can see all your screenshots laid out on the page, ready to export into every resolution Apple requires.”


Screenshot Builder Preview Page

“Since, unlike Review Monitor, you have to be at a certain point in your app development process to need this type of tool, we didn’t expect it to do as well. But it exceeded all our expectations.”


Screenshot Builder Product Hunt Page

“Again, we posted it to Product Hunt. It shot to number 1 almost immediately. It ended the day with over 700 upvotes. It was one of the top 20 products of all time on Product Hunt. This brought a bit more attention.”


TechCrunch Article

“TechCrunch covered the launch the next day, talking about both Screenshot Builder and Review Monitor.”


Ray Wenderlich Tweet

“We also started seeing organic tweets from some very influential members of the iOS community. Here’s one by someone who writes one of the most popular blogs on iOS development.”


User Stats Dashboard Month 2

“This had a dramatic impact on growth. Not only did we have a big launch day, but it added a new level of daily growth that we’re still seeing. It helped prove our thesis that if we continued to offer simple tools for the same community, each release would increase the growth rate and bring new people in.”


LaunchKit Landing Page with Future Products

“We’ve learned from these releases that after two years of building mobile apps, we can identify and solve for common pain points across the entire community. Let me show you some of the things we have coming next…”


Unfortunately, we can only tell the rest of the story over time, but the demo usually lasts about 10–15 minutes longer and runs through a series of landing pages, prototypes, etc..

In closing

I’m not saying this will work for everyone. But if you have the content, I highly recommend trying it. It’s been a very effective way to get our point across and tell a story 100% based on reality.