Pitch perfect: A guide to investor pitch decks for startup fundraising

You are launched
Jun 3 · 9 min read

Looking to get seed funding for your brand new startup idea? You’ll need to convince prospective investors exactly why they should come on board with you.

The best way to do this? By creating a comprehensive and well-designed pitch deck.

Not sure what a pitch deck is or how to create one? Don’t worry!

By the end of this article, you’ll know all there is to know about crafting the perfect pitch.

What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a presentation document. This gives a summary of your startup, how it solves people’s problems and how you will get it to market.

Pitch decks have a variety of uses. However, in this scenario, you would be using your pitch deck to present your startup to an angel investor or venture capitalist. The difference between them you can find here.

The aim of your pitch deck is to entice a potential investor to partner up with you and give you the funding you need to grow.

As Venture Capitalist Jenny Lefcourt says: “Your goal at meeting number one is to get people interested enough that they want meeting number two.”

Think of your pitch deck like an interview between your startup and your investor of choice!

You can either present your pitch deck to the investor face-to-face or email it to them to read.

How long should my pitch deck be?

There is a lot of debate over what the optimum pitch deck length is. We would recommend you keep it to ten slides.

This gives you enough space to properly present your business idea, but isn’t so long that your potential investor gets bored.

Legendary Venture Capitalist Guy Kawasaki recommends the 10/20/30 rule when it comes to pitching decks. You should have ten slides, twenty minutes to present, and thirty-point font on your slides.

Remember, quality is better than quantity when it comes to your slides.

What can I create a pitch decks in?

The great news is that you don’t need expensive design software to create your pitch deck.

Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote are both free and work well.

Cloud design programs like Canva are really good too. Canva even comes with pitch deck templates that you can customize with your colors and fonts of choice!

If you need stock images for your pitch deck, you can get free photos and graphics from sites like Pexels, Unsplash, and Stocksnap.

If you aren’t comfortable creating a pitch deck yourself, then consider hiring a graphic designer to put a template together for you.

Once you have a perfectly designed pitch deck, the next step is to populate it with information.

What do I include in a pitch deck?

Even with ten slides, there is a lot you need to cover In your pitch deck!

Here’s what we recommend you include for maximum impact.

  1. Your cover slide. This should include your startup name and contact details. Your cover slide is particularly important if you are emailing your deck across as it tells your investor how to reach out to you
  2. The problems that your customers experience. Who is your target audience, and what struggles do they experience in their day-to-day lives?
  3. How your startup fixes the problems that you mentioned in slide 2. What pain points do your customers have, and what will your startup do to resolve them?
  4. Your unique value proposition. What can your startup do to make the world a better place?
  5. Your business model. How will your startup make money and create value?
  6. Your market plan. How will you launch your product, service, or mobile app and bring new customers onboard?
  7. Your competitors. What are your competitors doing, and what are you doing that is different? As tempting as it may be, don’t say that you have no competition. The investor will think that you are being dishonest, haven’t done your research, or have a really poor startup idea!
  8. Your team. Who are the key players in your startup, and what experience do they have? You really want to sell your team as they will be the ones that the investor will be working closely with if you get funding. Rei Inamoto recommends the ‘Hacker, Hustler, Hipster’ model. List your leading tech guru (Hacker), the key salesperson (Hustler), and chief creative (Hipster).
  9. Your financials. What growth do you forecast over the next few years? What metrics are the most important to you? Spend your time on this slide as according to Docsend, the financial slide is usually the most popular one in the deck!
  10. Where you are. What are you looking for from an investor, and how will you use the funding you receive? Don’t be afraid to be direct here and specify precisely what it is you need!

You may think that this is a lot of information to squeeze into ten slides… and you would be right!

The key is to present your info in a visually appealing way, as well as eliminate any irrelevant content. We’ll go into more detail about how to do this later.

Examples of great pitch decks from successful startups

Even big companies like Facebook, Airbnb and Tinder all had to pitch to investors at the beginning of their startup journeys!

We’ve put together a list of pitch decks from a range of tech companies. The great thing is that these are all genuine decks that helped these companies win business. Airbnb famously received $600k of seed funding using their first pitch deck!

It’s always interesting to read through these pitch decks and see where these large businesses started off!

Why not check them out and see if there is anything you can apply to your own pitch deck?

Pitch deck dos and don’ts

After all, a long and tedious deck full of walls of text will not excite any potential investors.

With this in mind, here are our top tips for creating the perfect pitch.

Do…

  • Keep your pitch short. As we mentioned before, you should try and keep your pitch under twenty minutes. That works out at two minutes to go through each slide. If you’re presenting it to an investor, run through it a few times first to make sure that your delivery is clear and concise. Don’t forget to pace yourself. You don’t want to spend ten minutes on the first slide and have to rush through everything else!
  • Grab their attention. Did you know that the average person has an attention span of eight seconds? This means you need to get your potential investor on board as soon as possible otherwise they may zone out. You can do this with an interesting cover slide. Make it as vivid as possible, with an enticing tagline
  • The show, don’t tell. You have limited space on each slide, and if you are presenting to a potential investor, you need to ensure that your content is as exciting as possible. Rather than using text, look at different ways you can present your information. For example, can you use a video to introduce your product? A flowchart to demonstrate your business model? Don’t be afraid to be creative and think outside the box
  • Keep your jargon to a minimum. Keeping your language clear and simple will make your pitch easier to understand. This is especially important if your investor has no prior experience in your industry. If your investor can’t get to grips with your product, service, or mobile app at first glance, the odds of them investing will rapidly decrease
  • Keep your design consistent. As you only have ten slides, you need to make sure each one is perfect! Use the same colors, font, and text size throughout to give your slides a uniform look and feel
  • Make sure your deck looks good on mobile. If you are emailing your pitch deck out to investors, it needs to work on mobile phones and tablets. One in ten investors read pitch decks on their phones, so make sure it can be easily viewed on a small screen
  • Send your deck as a PDF. If you are asked to email your pitch deck across, convert it to a PDF document first. This makes it easier to view and ensures that your font choices look precisely as you intended them to
  • Tailor your pitch to your investor. Like a cover letter for a job interview, it’s best to tailor your pitch deck to each specific investor. Do your research beforehand and find out what your chosen investor looks for in prospective partners
  • Tell a story. You need your pitch to be as engaging as possible. Don’t be afraid to use your personal experiences and show the human side of your startup. If you are struggling to find the right words, a copywriter can work with you to create the perfect storyline for your business
  • Prepare! It is likely that your potential investor will have a lot of questions after the presentation. Make sure you are prepared as much as possible for questions they may potentially ask. If you don’t know the answer, don’t panic. Say you will look into it and email the answer to them later on

Don’t…

  • Try and cover everything. A pitch deck is a summary of your startup. You don’t need to cram everything into your presentation. When you create the first draft of your deck, go through it and put yourself in the investor’s position. Do they need to know this information? Will they care that it is there? If the answer to either question is no, cut it out of the deck
  • Use unsubstantiated facts. You want your pitch to lead to an investment. But you need to be truthful. If you manipulate the facts or the projections, you will get found out. Remember that investors have several years of experience working with businesses and will know when startups are not being honest with them
  • Use complicated charts. Charts can be great for explaining your ideas and metrics, but they need to be clear and understandable. If you can’t decipher a chart at a glance, leave it out of the pitch or see what you can do to make it clearer
  • Be crude. We all like a good joke, but a pitch deck shouldn’t be offensive. If you insult an investor, they may decide not to work with you, and also tell others to avoid your startup
  • Let your pitch deck go out of date. You never know when you will need to send your pitch deck out, so keep it as relevant as possible. Check it regularly and get rid of any out-of-date information, for example, if a key member of the team leaves. Similarly, leave the date off your pitch deck. It doesn’t need to be there, and it ages your pitch deck unnecessary

In conclusion

Take the time to not only plan the design of your pitch decks, but the content too.

A stellar pitch deck will open up a lot of doors for your startup, so it is well worth the effort.

Good luck in creating your perfect pitch deck!

Want to create an amazing business pitch? You Are Launched is here to help

Whether you want us to create pitch decks that your investors will love, or take a look at how your existing deck can be improved, we’re happy to help.

Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you get the funding your startup deserves.

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