What should a pitch deck include
There are two kinds of pitch decks. The first one has a great deal of textual and visual data and can be sent to investors via email. The second is used to pitch your business idea in person, and it should have more visuals and less text so that people are better focused on you and what you’re saying.
Keep in mind that investors spend, on average, about 4-5 minutes per start-up pitch deck. Not much, right? So save all your great musings and descriptions for later discussions.
There is no specific answer to how long should a pitch deck be. It all depends on lots of factors including the industry you’re talking about, your product and whether it’s ready or still in development, etc. Just stick to no more than 16 slides, keep them clear, concise, and convincing and try to include the most essential and valuable info. According to numerous studies, investors spend most of their time looking closely at the slides about team, competition, and financials.
With that said, let’s see the best way to plan your pitch deck exploring the slides it should include.
Disclaimer: the following pitch deck slides are used exclusively as examples. Most information is fictional.
Title: impress from the start
You never get a second chance to make the first impression, which is highly important when searching for funding. So use this slide to the fullest to lay the robust foundation for your business idea.
Keep it tidy and minimalistic, yet jazz it up with interactive background or additional animation. Speaking of content, present your business value proposition succinctly — try to do it with one phrase. If you have a snappy tagline, add it to the slide.
As we discuss funding options, you may find it helpful to explore the guide prepared by the Lazarev.agency CEO on securing Series A investments.
Introduction: let the party begin
“Dear ladies and gentlemen, we’ve gathered here to”… Now you add whatever intro matches your business idea. It isn’t necessary to be that serious and official. Just be clear and concise when pitching to investors.
This slide provides a small summary of the product or service you need funding for. It’s a great way to build credibility right off the bat. But don’t go into details, as the viewers need this information only to get a basic understanding of the following data.
Problem: add some drama
If the first and second slides are, so to say, a formal prelude, this is where the real action begins. Fail to introduce a problem that people can relate to, and you won’t convince them to invest in your project.
The main idea of this slide is to explain what gap you are going to fill in the market. To accomplish that, start building a story, tap into visual cues and compelling copy but don’t get overdramatic.
When wondering how to pitch to investors, remember this: it’s important to present the problem they experienced in the past or, given their expertise, empathize with those who have it. Even though the challenge described in your presentation deck may be far from their lives, they should clearly see their ROI.
Depending on the project, you can have 1-3 problems you want to dwell on. But don’t pile troubles up when creating a pitch deck. No matter how much you want to highlight the importance of your proposition, try to narrow it down to only one powerful problem, adding more only if they’re truly relevant and don’t repeat each other.
Solution: what’s the answer to the problem
Once the challenge is stated, it’s time to provide a solution. If need be, divide this slide into two separate ones. And note this: your product/service isn’t a magic pill but a tool to resolve the issue. With that in mind, avoid such statements as “If you can’t create NFTs, download our app and start boosting your marketing strategy with non-fungible tokens in a snap.” Instead, share the features and highlight the benefits that help users interact with the Web3 world.
Word of advice: gain some valuable insights from the article on how to design a smooth NFT creation process, where we delve into Web3 product development and effective market presentation strategies.
It’s good practice to devise multiple solutions to the same problem in your pitch to investors, then choose one and explain why. You can also stress out why it’s up to the time right now. Because sometimes, even the best start-up ideas fail because they are presented too late or too early. The solution to the problem should also be scalable so that investors can see that when they add their resources to your start-up, its total output will only be increased with time.
Product: show them what you’ve got
This slide aims to show your product in action. Sure, it may not be ready yet, but you can demonstrate some screenshots, design ideas, and the most powerful features. Add descriptions about your product or clients’ feedback if you have it to make the slide more convincing.
Emphasize only the most essential things, and don’t copy the information from the second slide. This content must be unique and back up the already stated information.
Competitors: who are your rivals
Now it’s time to talk about your competitors and what makes you different from them. What do you mean you have none? If your product lacks competition, the chances are you’re working on the elixir of eternal life or winter clothing for unicorns. So don’t lie to yourself and, more importantly, to investors.
You can use a diaphragm or a table chart to reveal the competitors and differentiate your company from the rest. The main idea of this slide is to broadcast your product’s uniqueness and highlight the value proposition.
It's crucial to conduct market research when starting any business. Here is the article that explores the significance of market research for startups and how it can persuade investors and secure funding. Take your time to read it through.
If you have some spectacular data on the capital each competitor has gained in the past, show it. That information will demonstrate how much the market is paying, which can stimulate a positive response to your pitch deck. You can add those numbers to the next slide not to overload the viewers and hold their attention firmly. Such a business-oriented approach turns ordinary pitch decks for investors into winning ones.
Market size: what are the growth opportunities
Is there a market for those interested in your product? If so, show that in this slide. Use graphs and diagrams to illustrate the market growth in the past and its potential growth in the future so that investors can evaluate the approximate ROI. And don’t take figures from your head but turn to reliable research papers. To build up trust, you can include the sources you’ve taken data from.
Traction: where you’re heading and how
If potential investors still aren’t giving your presentation a standing ovation, it’s time to pull the trump card up your sleeve. Use this slide to show them what your company has achieved by now — what’s your cost per customer acquisition, revenue, and sales volume.
In case you’re an early-stage start-up, which is a more common situation for those pitching their business ideas, skip this slide or shift the focus from your achievements to plans showing the company goals, marketing plan, sales strategy, etc.
Team: introduce them to your fellows
The math is as simple as that: the start-up success is 10% your idea and 90% people executing it. Why so? We’ve talked about it before — if you aren’t opening an e-store with elixirs of eternal life, probably some other people have a similar idea to yours. And at this very moment, they may be looking for investments or already launching the project. Highly-motivated specialists with relevant experience are what will give you an edge.
Investors understand this business algebra. So, as a rule, they are very attentive to this slide, looking for bright minds who will catapult the start-up idea to insane success.
The general recommendation is this: don’t add too many team members to the slide. Instead, limit yourself to co-founders and key personas covering their experience, areas of expertise, motivations, and achievements.
Financial projections: tell them about your plans
When you’re asked about your 5-year plans at the job interview, you might get irritated in a snap. And that’s very understandable. Not many people make plans for so long, considering how fast and unpredictable life can be. But when it comes to a pitch deck, rein in your emotions.
Making projections might be a wild guess, especially if you haven’t yet launched your project. But it’s vital to show investors where your company is heading and what potential outcomes can be. Normally, start-up founders demonstrate financial projections for 3-5 years in their pitch decks (like at the job interview, but here it makes more sense).
Call-to-action: let’s cut to the chase
“Follow us on social media and let’s keep in touch” — is a good CTA, but not when it comes to raising funds for your start-up. Ask yourself again — what is the purpose of a pitch deck? That’s right — call for investments. Use the slide for this purpose indicating the amount you want to get.
But here is a trick. Don’t mention the specific amount of money you are trying to get. Instead, be strategic and go with ranges. For example, if you want to raise $7 million, you will ask for $5-7 million. That’s because some companies are limited in their investments. If a firm has strictly $5 million to sponsor a start-up, you still can get this sum because your desired amount is within their available range.
Even though you’ve already mentioned your plans, a smart move will be to repeat some crucial points, focusing on how you will use the raised money.