What Makes a Good Pitch Deck?

Project A
Project A Insights
Published in
5 min readFeb 5, 2016

--

We invest in teams, not in pitch decks. However, good teams build good pitch decks. Even if you’re not the biggest PowerPoint or Keynote nerd on Earth, creating a pitch deck that gets across what you’re building and why you’re awesome is essential to get funding. It’s your chance to present your idea and to draw our attention to your business. So what should you include in your deck and how should you present it? In this blogpost, we are going to provide an outline of what we’d like to see and how we’d like to see it. For each part of the content, we are going to touch on some key questions that your charts should answer.

A Few General Words

What’s the biggest mistake that we see every day when we look at pitch decks? They are too long. Sending us 100+ slides is unnecessary and the time invested in building longer and longer pitch decks would be better spent on improving the most important slides or working on your business. There are a few general points that a pitch deck should always include — if you choose to add more than those, think twice and ask yourself if the slide in question really adds value to the deck and convinces us to invest in you. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and our time — and no one likes having their time wasted.

Now, we’ll turn towards the content we would like to see. First, a brief disclaimer: the parts don’t necessarily need to be in this order. Choose a storyline that fits your presentation, your business and the stage you’re in.

Your Idea and Your Business Model

This is an obvious one. Present your idea in a few sentences or a chart. Name your functions and features and how they add value for the customers — but remember to keep it short and simple! For the revenue streams involved in your business model, you might want to create a second chart. Depending on the idea, you might need even more charts here.

Questions to answer:

  • What are you building?
  • Why is this the next big thing?
  • Which problem are you solving?
  • How do you make money?

Your Team

We want to know who you are. The best idea is worth nothing without the right team that is able to implement and scale the business. Facebook wasn’t the first social network, Google wasn’t the first search engine, Airbnb wasn’t the first marketplace for private vacation home rentals — it’s their execution and their teams that made the difference in the end. We would rather invest in a great team with a poor idea than the other way around. So convince us that you guys are awesome and are able to grow your business!

Questions to answer:

  • Who is building this business?
  • Why do you have what it takes to scale this idea? (think: education, experience, etc.)

The Market You Are Operating In

We want to know the characteristics of the market you’re tackling — e.g. market size, competitors, relevant legal frameworks and recent developments. This is work that we also normally do ourselves to see if the market you are operating in is promising enough for the high growth expectations that we have for our ventures. If you address these points upfront and tell us right away about the market, you will save us a lot of research.

There’s a lot of arguing about whether to include competitors in a pitch deck. We think that it’s a thousand times better to talk about them — it provides you the chance to emphasize the way you stand out against your peers.

Questions to answer:

  • In which market are you operating?
  • What are the characteristics of the market?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • How do you outshine the competitors?

Your Traction and Your Financials

Yes, we are aware that you hate sharing your financials with a VC that you barely know. However, think through this problem from our side: Would you invest in a pig in a poke? I bet you wouldn’t. So show off what you have achieved so far! And if you guys are (very) early stage: We would like to see something more than an idea, a deck and a team. Before approaching VCs, you should at least build a prototype, e.g. an MVP, and get your product out to the market. You will not only have something to show off — you will also learn a lot about the market you’re operating in and be able to address the challenges that you’re facing.

Questions to answer:

  • What have you built so far?
  • How does the product perform in the market? (KPIs: think about revenue, number of customers, monthly visits/downloads, CACs, etc.)
  • How much money did you spend?
  • Who owns which share of the business?

Your Business Case

The business case is the supreme discipline and the culmination of a pitch deck. Based on the first traction in the market, you are projecting and quantifying future revenue streams. These are highly dependent on your expansion strategy: Will you penetrate your local market or will you soon roll out internationally? The case builds upon the financials and upon the market characteristics that you’ve hopefully already addressed and integrates them with the financial implications of your growth strategy.

We are aware that the numbers and the hockey stick growth projections in business cases are, well, projections. Nevertheless, the business case shows us in which direction the business is destined to grow. Building a business case might also help you to identify and overcome obstacles that you may potentially run into during the implementation process. List your key assumptions that have led you to your — hopefully nice-looking — result.

Questions to answer:

  • How will your business look in 5 years?
  • What are the key assumptions for this projection?
  • What are the growth goals?
  • How do you expand and scale the business? (e.g. penetration, internationalization, different customer tiers)

Increase Your Chances of Funding

Certainly, building an awesome pitch deck isn’t sufficient on its own: You need to get in contact with us — ideally in person or through an intermediary. We will soon provide you with some tips on the best ways to get in touch with us in person.

Moreover, you will need to pitch your idea to us in several sessions where we will challenge the idea, the team and the execution process together. Be prepared for that.

If you want to learn more about our evaluation framework feel free to take a look this post.

Conclusion

Keep it short, simple and relevant: Address the key questions that we have about your venture — depending on the product/market, you may need to answer more than the questions given here — and make your slides look nice. Building a pitch deck is not rocket science and if you’re able to grow your business, you can certainly manage to design a great deck! We can’t wait to receive it from you!

This post was written by Andreas Helbig.

Want to read more engaging stories from Project A?

Check out our new blog: insights.project-a.com.

--

--

Project A
Project A Insights

Project A is the Operational VC from Berlin in the early-stage digital technology space — 140 experts empowering tomorrow’s digital winners. www.project-a.com