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Creating a pitch deck is essential for any startup, especially in the early stages. Whether you need additional funding to bring your product to market or are searching for a partner who can help you with the ongoing management of your company, an effective pitch deck allows you to succinctly and effectively advertise your brand or business.

What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a brief presentation used to give prospective investors, clients, or potential partners an overview of your startup and the products or services you’re looking to market. These presentations can be put together by using online software such as Powerpoint, Keynote, or Prezi, but are commonly presented in face-to-face meetings.

What should your pitch deck include?

Overall, your pitch deck needs to be answering the following questions: What is your product? What problem does it solve? What is your growth potential? These are the kinds of questions that investors need answers to when you ask for their financial support.

An effective pitch deck can be done between 10-12 slides. These slides should cover the following

1. Vision and Value Proposition

In one sentence, explain what your business is and the value you want to provide to customers. Think of this sentence as a tweet: it should ideally be under 150 characters in length. Some companies will create their value proposition by making comparisons to other similar, successful companies that are in the same industry or share similar interests. For example,

2. The Problem

Every startup should be aiming to solve a specific problem. In order to get investors on board with your startup, you need to be able to show that the problem is a real one that customers face in order to give your startup purpose. To effectively showcase the problem they’re trying to solve, many startup founders will use a relatable and engaging story detailing a scenario where the problem is present.

3. Target Market

Who is your primary customer? How large is the potential market? Investors will likely want to see consumer spending data and similar markets to determine the current market demand. Try to be as specific and realistic as possible with this information. It may be temping to stay vague in order to make your potential market seem much larger, but many investors want to be confident that you can realistically reach the primary market. Try to find quantifiable data to support the information you present in order to best showcase your understanding of the market.

4. The Solution

Once you’ve set the scene by detailing the problem at hand, you need to be able to detail how exactly your startup is going to solve such a problem. Specifically, you need to show how your product or service solves this problem better than any existing companies. This slide can be another chance for you to tap into your storytelling abilities, as you present your startup coming in to save the day.

5. Business Model

Once the idea behind your startup is properly illustrated, it’s time to get into the part that investors are truly interested in: the money. How is your product or service going to generate revenue? If you’re creating a content site and expect to make the brunt of your profits from advertisers rather than users, make sure you go into detail about how you’ll be acquiring these relationships.

6. Roadmap

This slide is a chance to show off what your startup has already accomplished, as well as where you want it to go from here. If you’ve already started making sales, talk about them! Investors want to see the proof that your solution is working. This slide could also be a chance to list out some milestones for your startup, including ones that you’ve already reached and those you aim to achieve in the near future. Presenting these goals can validate your product and demonstrate your vision for growth.

7. Market Strategy

Explain how exactly you plan to get your target audience’s attention and gain traction. Get into the specifics of your marketing plan and sales strategy. Winning customers can often be the most difficult part of starting out a new company, so it’s important to prove that you have a solid grasp of how you’re going to reach your target market. This is especially important if your market strategy differs from your competitors.

8. Your Team

A startup can’t grow without a solid team behind it. What makes you and your team the right fit to run your startup? Highlight the key members of your management team and describe the specific expertise that they bring to the company. This can also be an opportunity to mention any major investors, board of directors, and board of advisors that may be involved with your business. If you don’t have a complete team yet, make sure you identify the roles that you still need to fill and why those positions are necessary to your growth.

9. Financials

You need to have a slide dedicated to your financials or projections. Investors will expect to see a sales forecast, a cash flow forecast, and a profit and loss statement for at least the past three years, though you can also display projected financials. Don’t overwhelm your pitch deck with in-depth spreadsheets. Instead, try to limit this information to charts that are easy to read and make the data easier to digest.

10. Competition

No matter how unique your company may be, there will always be competition to contend with. Even if your startup is opening up a completely new market, your potential customers are still using alternative solutions to solve their problems today. Detail how your startup fits into the competitive landscape and what makes you different from the alternatives. What do you have that your competitors don’t? Why will customers choose you?

11. Use of Funds

End your pitch deck by detailing how much funding you need and what exactly these funds will help you achieve. This is arguably the most important part of your pitch, since it’s the whole reason that you’re meeting with investors in the first place. If investors are going to give your startup money, they need to know how that money is going to be used and how it’s going to help you to reach your goals.

Tips for perfecting your pitch deck

Pitch decks are a crucial aspect of launching a startup, so you want to make sure that you’re doing it right. Beyond including the information listed above, here are some additional tips to help you be more successful in your pitch:

  • Grab attention at the start: Start your pitch deck in an engaging way in order to make a great first impression. Facebook’s pitch deck started with a quote from the Stanford Daily, which said “Classes are being skipped. Work is ignored. Students are spending hours in front of the computer in utter fascination. The craze has swept through campus.” A quote like that has impact and captures investors’ attention right away.
  • Tell a story: A great way to maintain your audience’s attention when presenting your pitch deck is through storytelling. Don’t just talk about facts.
  • Be concise: Investors can see hundreds of pitch decks in a year, so you can’t take up a lot of their time. Less information is better than too much. Keep your slides simple, convey high-level ideas, and leave room for questions. Concise and straightforward presentations will always do better than ones that are overcrowded with bullet points.
  • Find the right targets: Finding the right targets for your pitch is just as important as creating the pitch deck itself. When looking for investors to pitch to, make sure that you’re doing research into their area of interest, investment theses, targeted investment size, existing portfolio, and investment climate. Taking the time to find investors that align with your business goals can raise your chances of being successful in your pitch.

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