How to Structure a Pitch Deck for Investors
Your pitch deck is supposed to be short and sweet…while also including enough information to convince investors to give you money
To make matters worse, everyone has their own opinion about what to include in a pitch deck. Some, like Guy Kawasaki, argue that a pitch deck should be 10 slides MAXIMUM, while others put this figure at around 20 slides.
Slidebean put together a graphic that visually shows how opinions vary between different venture capital firms and successful start-ups — it seems like we just can’t agree on what makes a pitch deck ‘good’.
f you’re struggling to figure out what to put in your pitch deck, the good news is that you’re not alone.
When you’re thinking about your pitch, try thinking about it in the framework of telling a good story.
First, you draw your audience into the story. Then, slowly build up your story until you reach the climax, and finally send everyone off with a happy conclusion.
What does this look like in the context of a pitch deck?
Part 1: Introduction
Make investors sit straight in their chairs and start paying attention.
Summarize your business in 10 words or less, and include your business name and logo. This is exactly what Airbnb did in their original pitch deck from 2008 — from the very first page, it gets investors thinking (Book rooms with locals? How can that be?)
What is the problem you’re going to solve? How big is the problem, and why should investors care?
Airbnb also does a fantastic job laying out the problem in the hotel and travel space, and connects with investors on their level. At this point, investors are thinking: Yes, price is an important factor. Yes, hotels are full of tourists and you don’t get the ‘local’ experience. Please, tell me more.
Part 2: Story Development
Show them what you’ve got
How is your product going to solve the problem? Make sure you clearly lay out the benefits of your solution. If you can, include three benefits that get the message across loud and clear.
Show them who wants it
What is your target market? How big is the market? The more stats and data you can accumulate, the better.
If you have any fans raving about you on social media, now would be a good time to pull that out.
The point of this slide is to show investors that there is a large, untapped market for your product — and hundreds of people excited about your product and posting about you on social media is pretty solid proof that your product has a market.
WeWork clearly shows this in their pitch deck, looking at the rise of freelancing as a profession and the growing demand for flexible work spaces.
This is an absolutely essential part of your presentation. How are you going to make money?
Investors want to be assured that they’re going to be able to make their money back, which means they are going to want to know exactly how you’re planning to earn revenue (and why this means investors are looking at getting a good return)
Spend extra time on this slide, making sure it is clear and informative.
Talk about the competition
Who are you going to go head-to-head with in the market? For Airbnb, it was hotels. For Uber, it was cabs.
Although many assume that talking about the competition would reflect negatively on you (because it draws attention to the businesses that are doing something similar to what you want to do) this couldn’t be further from the truth.
First of all, competition can prove that a market exists for your product. Second, talking about the competition shows investors that you’re thinking seriously about the state of the industry, and how your start-up fits into the landscape.
Talk about why you’re better than the competition
In other words, what makes you special?
Maybe this is where you talk about your proprietary technology. Or where you talk about how your product fills a gap that competitors aren’t filling.
Go-To Market Plan
How are you going to get customers? And how are you going to rake in millions of dollar of revenue and make your investors happy?
Talk about your amazing team
To build a successful business, you need a good idea and a capable team — investors know this better than anyone, which is why the ‘our team’ slide is the second most-viewed page in a pitch deck.
Who is your team? What are they good at? And why are they going to help lead your business to success?
Blow them away with some impressive stats
You’ve lead investors up to this point — they know the why, they know the how, and they know that you’re going to do it better than anyone else. Now is the time to finish off the presentation with some impressive stats that are going to send the message home.
Part 3: Epilogue
Bring it back
End with your business name, logo, and the sentence that sums up your company in 10 words or less.
Give investors a moment to marinate on how awesome you are, and then leave ample time for questions.
For more tips about how to create a pitch deck, read our other article “9 Tips for Making a Pitch Deck that Blows Investors Away”, or explore our website to find more resources for starting a business.