This blog post is part of our series about startup fundraising. In this post, we deep-dive into how to create a killer pitch deck for your startup to support your fundraising.
Many startup founders reach a point where they consider raising funds to support the growth of their company. You might turn to your family or friends for financial support (we wrote a post all about different fundraising approached, you can find it here). Many look for Angels or VC. And an important component of attracting investors involved pitching them your business ideas. For this you will need a pitch deck that: 1) effectively communicates your business idea, R&D and strategy, and 2) is digestible and visually compelling.
A great pitch deck won’t guarantee fundraising success of course, but not having one can be a real detriment to your efforts. It is often the first impression you give to potential investors. With intentional design, a great startup pitch deck enables investors to understand who you are and why they should join you on your journey.
TL;DR (in case you’re in a rush, here are the highlights):
- You should include essential facts about you and your team, the problem you solve, market research as well as your funding needs
- The average pitch deck takes no more than 10 minutes to present
- Data is king. But make it visually appealing and understandable.
- Good storytelling is as important as data.
What could be included in your startup pitch deck?
There are no absolute golden rules about what makes a perfect startup pitch deck. It could vary from industry to industry and investor to investor. But one thing is certain, your pitch deck should follow a clear logic, be self-explanatory and should tell a story. Here are 8 questions to help you structure your pitch deck:
- Who are you? On your first slide, you may want to leave a great first impression, you can grab this opportunity by giving a short but digestible brief introduction to you and your business, and telling them who you are and why you are here.
- What problems do you solve? Investors are interested in “what triggers you”, this is a good opportunity to explain your motivation. Identify 2 or 3 problems that your products tackle, and highlight the unique values of your business.
- How do you solve these problems? This part is a good chance for you to stand out and present your core solutions and products that solve the problems you just mentioned. Please keep in mind to present in an easy-to-understand way, and never dive too deep into details.
- Is the market promising enough? The problems you mentioned are widely existing and eager to be solved, your solutions sound feasible, but what investors are concerned about is far more than these, they also focus on the market size, market potential, etc., which are closely linked to ROI and further affect their final investment decision. Therefore, you should also include the market overview in your presentation, with visualised numbers and facts to increase credibility.
- How is the competitive landscape? Now is the right time to convince your investors of your unique value proposition. For a clearer view, we suggest you showing your competitive advantages by creating a competitor matrix, with which your potential investors could easily find where you are in the market.
- What’s your plan? Oftentimes, investors estimate your future value based on your achievement, plans, and traction. On this slide, you can focus on your business growth – the achievements you have made in visualised numbers, and your OKRs you plan for the future.
- Who is working for your business? Investors are interested in the people behind the business. On this slide, you can provide them with more vivid insights into your business by presenting them your core team members, their titles, responsibilities, backgrounds, etc.
- How would you use the funding ? Investors want to know where their money goes, besides asking for the funding, let them know what you would do with the money. A reasonable answer could help increase trust and your chance of getting the desirable fund.
Dos and Don’ts of Designing a Great Startup Pitch Deck
Here are some do’s and don’ts to always keep in mind when designing your pitch deck.
- Do keep your slides short and punchy: The average length of a funding pitch is less than 10 minutes. Meaning it’s a wise decision to keep your pitch deck short (no more than 15 slides) but hard-hitting and effective.
- Pay some attention to the design: Design alone is not a substitute for substance. But a well-designed pitch deck helps to communicate ideas, convey values, and highlight the key points. A simple yet effective strategy: Keep font size, colour, and design style consistent. Reasonable distribution of images and texts on each slide would also help.
- Make solid data visually appealing: Use data to increase your credibility, but simply number-stacking only distracts investors from key points. Think infographic rather than Excel spreadsheet.
- Customise your pitch deck: Remember to tailor your pitch deck to the investor you’re meeting. Regardless of how many meetings you’re having.
- Don’t underestimate the power of real-life anecdotes: Data is objective and convincing. But only presenting your beautiful numbers without a story is inadvisable.
- Don’t forget to have more than one pitch deck: The one you present and the one you send. The former should be simple, more pared back and visually compelling. The latter should be more descriptive and should standalone without the support of your presentation.
- Don’t try to be funny: People are different and they have very different definitions of “funny”, do not let the risky humour destroy your work.
Some Examples of Great Startup Pitch Decks
Theory only gets us so far. That’s why we’ve compiled some very successful pitch deck examples. To put theory into practice for you.
Airbnb, the online marketplace for vacation rentals and experiences, has raised $5.8 billion in total over 10 funding rounds. Its pitch deck is widely circulated and widely acclaimed, and has become a classic good example referenced by countless companies.
What makes it stand out?
- Not too long: 12 slides is the ideal length.
- Self-explanatory storyline: From problem to solution. From market size to competitor analysis. Airbnb’s pitch deck design follows a clear logic and easy-to-follow structure.
- Audience-friendly design: If you go through the whole slide, you won’t find too much text. With visualised data, simplified language, and consistent design style, it brings the audience through its journey effectively.
Orchard provides a solution that helps companies improve the security of personal smartphones used for work. They have raised $500k from business angels in 2015.
- Short and clear: It clearly shows the problem, and how they can turn problems into huge opportunities with their solution. The slides hold quite much essential information, without being text-heavy.
- Audience-friendly design: Similarly to Airbnb, Orchard also pays much attention to the design, by visualising data, keeping text clear and the story consistent.
Check out the other blog posts in this series about startup fundraising.