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”
What is the Purpose of a Pitch?
To generate interest in your startup. It’s not to explain every aspect of your product. It’s not to beat your audience over the head with information until they submit and write you a check. Your objective is simply to stimulate enough interest in your company to land a second meeting.
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:
Make introductions. The first slide will be dedicated to introducing you, your company, and letting them know exactly how to get in touch with you.
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?
Next, you’re going to jump right into how your business is useful. When you boil it down to the most fundamental elements, every business does one of two things: solves a pain point or provides some sort of pleasure. Your business, in one way or another, does one of those two things.
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.
Explain the value of the pain you alleviate or the pleasure you provide. How is solving that particular pain point valuable? Why is that problem worth solving? Have you validated with potential customers that this would be worthwhile?
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.
Okay, now we get to have a little fun. On this slide, answer the question: “What makes it work?”
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.
On this slide, you’re going to explain the model behind your business and why it makes sense as a business, rather than a hobby or a charity. And you’ll do that by answering these questions:
- 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.
Now that you’ve explained what your company does, who your customers are, and how you’ll make money, it’s time to explain the strategy of how you’re going to get those customers.
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.
Now that you’ve established your go-to-market plan, showing how you’ll break into the market, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re not working in a vacuum — meaning, there’s competition.
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.
One key thing to remember on this one is that perfection is not expected. It’s okay to have a less-than-perfect 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.
Investors care about financials, yes. But it’s just one KPI. On this slide, you’re going to show the audience what your company will look like 3 years from now, in terms of both financial as well as other key metrics.
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.
Finally, explain where your investors come in. Give them the whole picture of the current status of your product, what the near future looks like, and if you’ve achieved any major milestones (such as 1,000,000 users, press coverage like Mashable or TechCrunch, etc.).
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?
If absolutely necessary, add a few more slides to fill out some of the more technical details. An example would be in section #4, where more visuals could make for more effective marketing. Or in section #10, if you want to break up “Current status and accomplishments to date” and “timeline and use of funds” into separate slides. It’s all about knowing your audience and marketing your pitch to their interests.
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.