How to Craft an Effective VC Pitch Deck With Only 10 Slides

Secrets revealed from Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start 2.0”

Joshua VanDeBrake
Jun 12 · 6 min read
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Photo adapted from Teemu Paananen

What is the Purpose of a Pitch?

In other words: a pitch is the first step in marketing your company.

While focusing on the true purpose of a pitch, we can also follow Guy Kawasaki’s 10–20–30 rule and limit the number of slides in your pitch deck to ten. And this ambitiously low number will force you to focus on the absolute essentials.

To effectively market your company in your presentation, I’ve outlined a unique combination of ten slides for your pitch deck, compiled from a combination of my own experience and lessons from Guy Kawasaki’s book The Art of the Start 2.0. This deck will explain:

  • You and your company
  • What problem you solve
  • How you solve it
  • How you’ll make money
  • How you’ll reach your customers
  • What the competitive landscape looks like
  • Who’s leading your company
  • What the financial projections look like
  • And finish off with a timeline of what you will do and how you’ll use the investor money.

Let’s get to it:

1. Title.

Here, you’ll provide the name of your company, even if it’s still a work-in-progress, you’ll give your name and title, the address of where business operations are occurring, even if that's home, and you’ll provide your email and your cell phone number.

That’s the first slide. Easy, right?

2. Problem/Opportunity.

On this slide, describe the main pain point that your company is alleviating, or on the other end, the main pleasure you’re providing.

Does your solution connect and integrate systems that weren’t previously communicating? Thus solving the pain point of duplicate work, the frustration of potential entry errors due to that duplicate work, and having to look in several places anytime you need information.

Whatever problem your company solves, describe that problem.

3. Value Proposition.

Don’t go too into detail about your business model; we’ll cover that later. For now, you just want to give our audience the evidence that you are solving a valuable problem.

4. Underlying Magic.

Describe the technology, the secret sauce, the magic behind your product. Some text is important, but you’ll want to use as many visuals as possible. It’s time for show-and-tell. If you have a prototype or demo, now is the time to bust that out and show it off.

As Google’s Glen Shires said:

“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 10,000 slides.”

You want to let your audience know that your solution to the problem is not only technically possible but you have figured out how to make that magic work.

5. Business Model.

  • Who are your customers?
  • How will you make money?
  • How have you validated your business?
  • Have you successfully completed a proof of concept?

As Guy Kawasaki puts it: “Explain who has your money temporarily in his pocket and how you’re going to get it into yours.” Well said, Guy.

6. Go-To-Market Plan.

On this slide, you’re going to answer the question: “How are you going to reach your customers?”

And not only that, explain how you’re going to reach potential customers and influence them to buy your product, all without breaking the bank. Feel free to mention what channels you’ll be using to reach that audience.

7. Competitive Analysis.

On this slide, give an overview of the competitive landscape.

  • Who are the other players?
  • What does their offering look like?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What needs are being unmet by the others and why hasn’t anyone stepped in to fill those needs?

Give a complete overview of the competitive landscape that your company will be up against. While, yes, your company is uniquely positioned, blah blah blah… your potential investors know that you’re probably entering a market with at least some level of saturation, even if it’s low. The important thing here is to acknowledge the competition and show the differences and opportunities.

8. Management Team.

If your team was perfect, you wouldn’t need more funding.

That being said, explain to your audience who is leading this venture, who’s your management team, who’s on your board, who are your advisors, who are your existing major investors?

9. Financial Projections and KPIs.

Provide a forecast of not only revenue and profit, but also KPI’s such as number of customers (or MAU), conversion rates, NPS, growth rates, and LTV versus CAC.

10. Current Status, Accomplishments, Timeline, and Use of Funds.

And lastly, explain how you’ll use the money you’re currently trying to raise. That is, after all, the reason you’re talking to them, right?

Final Thoughts

Frameworks, principles, and templates are ridiculously helpful in getting yourself and your business on the path to success. But flexibility is even more essential. That being said, I’d like to share something that my 10th-grade English teacher taught our class — something I’ll always take with me:

“Don’t be a slave to the paradigm.”

So, while helpful, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I speak from the viewpoint of having advised a small handful of startups on their marketing and operational strategy and with the experience of speaking several times in front of varying audiences. And while every audience and every business is different, most of this advice will carry through for you as well.

But from everything I’ve learned throughout these experiences, the key remains: simple is better.

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Thanks to Niklas Göke

Joshua VanDeBrake

Written by

Passionate about Marketing, Startups, & VC. Full-Stack Marketer. Ambivert. Millennial.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +731K people. Follow to join our community.

Joshua VanDeBrake

Written by

Passionate about Marketing, Startups, & VC. Full-Stack Marketer. Ambivert. Millennial.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +731K people. Follow to join our community.

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