Pitch Decks: How To Present Startups To Potential Investors

While the startup scene has become remarkably popular lately, it’s not easily accessible to every person. We don’t all have an internal team of advisors ready to help move our ideas forward. That’s why we need to consider seeking funding from venture capital firms, angel investors, corporate partners and others — to bring our vision to life and make that idea a startup.

That is why you need a pitch deck

A pitch deck is a concise, visual presentation that aims to convince potential investors of the viability, profitability, and scalability of your business. It is an essential tool for any startup looking to secure funding.

It tells the story of your company in a visually-engaging way, and it’s one of the most important tools in your arsenal when it comes to fundraising.

Pitching your startup to investors is a nerve-wracking process. If you want to get that check and get on with building your company, you need to be prepared — and that means having a pitch deck that’s ready for primetime.

It’s easy to feel like your pitch deck needs to be really fancy and polished, but at the end of the day, all it has to do is convey what makes your company special in an engaging way.

Pitch decks are the lifeblood of startup fundraising. They’re how you get past the gatekeepers and get the attention of investors who can help you grow your business.

In the world of startup financing, a pitch deck — whether it’s delivered to angel investors or VC firms — is what gets things going. Whether the presentation will be given by a founder or a VC, it is typically with the goal of convincing investors and lenders to invest time and money into a business venture.

What Is A Pitch Deck?

A pitch deck is a presentation made to investors or the media in order to sell your company or product. It should contain all of the information that an investor would need in order to make their decision whether or not they want to invest in your company. This includes:

  • The problem you are trying to solve
  • Your Solution
  • Why does it matter now? Great companies can articulate this really well.
  • Your business model
  • Your product/service description
  • Your target market/customer base (Market potential and opportunity)
  • Your competition (if any) and why yours will beat them out
  • Have Traction? Who is excited about what you are making? Investors want to hear about your traction. What tests have you run so far? You don’t need to be profitable, but having some traction boost investor confidence. An investor will want to know is how many users you have, how much they spend, and how fast you are growing. To raise money from investors, you need to demonstrate that the market supports your product or service through strong proof of traction: metrics that show your growth, along with customer and user engagement.
  • How much money you’re looking for and what percentage of ownership you’re offering up in return for investment capital
  • Your team. Why are you the best fit? Can you get the job done?

Creating slides and a pitch that will land millions in venture capital funding may sound easy.

While raising capital for your new business might appear simple — just give in to your fear of public speaking and throw together a dozen slides with a couple of bullet points, right? — there are plenty of entrepreneurs out there vying for the same pot of funding.

The sheer number of startups competing for this funding makes it critical to present your company in the best possible light.

To create a pitch deck that garners attention and substantial investment, two key elements must be considered. The first is design: the number of slides and style. The second, which is most confusing and challenging, is what to include in the pitch deck.

The second element has been known to cause disputes among founders and investors alike. This post will help clarify common mistakes made when creating a pitch deck, as well as provide tips for creating an effective presentation.

Mistakes Made When Creating a Pitch Deck

  1. Including too much information
  2. Using complex language or industry jargon
  3. Not including enough information about your company’s financials or what your ask is.

The key to making your pitch deck stand out from the pack is showing off what makes your business different from others in the same space. Here’s how to do it:

1. Give them what they want

Before you can sell yourself, you need to know what kind of investor you’re pitching. Are they looking for tech or consumer products? Are they interested in high growth or steady profit? Is this a seed round or Series A? These are all questions that will help shape your presentation.

2. Keep it simple

Your audience is busy people who have other things going on besides listening to your pitch, so keep things brief and make sure each slide has a clear message before moving on to the next one. One word per slide is ideal; more than two is pushing it. And don’t forget: graphics matter! Use images whenever possible rather than relying on words alone because visuals help illustrate concepts better than words alone ever could.

3. Keep it short and sweet.

A good pitch deck should be no longer than 10 slides, and it should include no more than 1–2 sentences per slide. You want to focus on conveying your message quickly and clearly, so don’t get caught up in fine details. Don’t try to cram everything into one slide. Focus on your main points and emphasize them strongly. Make sure every slide is relevant and adds value — don’t include slides that don’t add anything or distract from the main message. You should be able to tell a story throughout each slide without any confusion about what’s going on if you were to take away all the text on it.

4. Make sure everything is organized logically.

Your audience isn’t going to read your deck cover-to-cover; they’re going to scan it quickly, looking for key words that jump out at them. To make sure they find what they need when they need it, organize everything into digestible chunks that flow from one idea into another logically.

Many entrepreneurs have been guided primarily by their own instinct or the advice of others. This can backfire if you build the deck for the wrong audience.

Let’s be real, building a startup is hard. But it’s even harder when you’re trying to raise money. If any of you have been involved in a fundraising round, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I highly suggest reading Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson.

The startup fundraising process, historically, is full of “hype” and friction. It’s long and arduous, comprising hours of work for founders, countless meetings with investors and ongoing relationships which need to be maintained.

When you get the chance to pitch your business to potential investors, accelerator programs or customers, don’t be shy. It’s not about being a certain personality type — it’s about being able to get the job done. Show that you’re the person for the job. Let them know that they’ll be missing out if they don’t go with you. You’re awesome — go show them!

If you’re nervous about trying to sell something, remember: it’s not just about selling yourself, but selling your idea too! Focus on what makes your product or service unique and how it will solve a problem for the person who is listening.

And above all else, try not to sweat it! If you can convince yourself that it’s no big deal and just do your thing, then that confidence will shine through in everything else you do — and people will see how great of an idea this is and want to invest in it.

So go pitch your business with confidence (and maybe some flowers). And remember: if things don’t work out this time around, just keep pitching until someone says yes!

I will leave you with some examples:

On the ninth anniversary of Uber, the co-founder of Uber, the ride-sharing app, Garrett Camp, shared a copy of the company’s first pitch deck on medium.

Here’s Airbnb’s first-ever pitch deck

Sequoia Capital Pitch Deck Template

Sequoia Capital is a venture capital firm, according to TechCrunch, raising over $1 billion for late-stage U.S. investments.

If you need some coaching, I offer a 30-day coaching session, once a week. Practice your pitch with me. Become a Pro in 30 days. Sign up here

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