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Neil Patel

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How to design a winning pitch deck? How would you develop a great pitch to get your startup funded?

No matter what stage your startup is at from pre-launch to Series C round and beyond, getting funded is all about the pitch deck.

You can have all the right metrics, a genius product, a revolutionary business model, and an extremely smart team, though everything can still come down to a handful of slides.

Not just whether you nail this next investor meeting or get some more dollars into the chest, but the very survival of your business, and its potential and level of success. Plus, how easy that success comes.

So, how to design a winning pitch deck? What are the most important factors? What are the steps?

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

    The Competition For Funding

    Getting funded as a startup is an incredibly competitive sport.

    As more and more individuals seek to strike out as entrepreneurs, and we become more global, the competition for venture capital is scaling exponentially.

    Well-known celebrity angel investors, startup accelerators, and VCs are bombarded with inbound messages, pitches, and pitch decks from all over the world, all day, every day.

    With the right approach, system, and timing, you can get funded. Yet, it does make investing in your pitch and the fundraising process.

    According to the Corporate Finance Institute “The odds of receiving an equity check from Andreessen Horowitz is just 0.7%.” Inc. says that only 0.62% of startups get VC funding. Forbes puts the probability of a new business getting VC money at 0.0005.

    Pitch Decks

    The most popular and desirable funding sources receive thousands of pitch decks. Thousands of decks are created each day.

    This ranges from brand new aspiring entrepreneurs just trying to wing it, to very experienced veteran serial entrepreneurs who have already taken several highly successful startups full cycle.

    Needless to say, if you are to have any hopes of getting funded, you are really going to have to show up with a fantastic deck that checks all of the boxes.

    It doesn’t have to be long or revolutionary in terms of design. Though it does need to meet expectations and stand out from the pack in that respect, and what you have to offer them.

    Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

    Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    What Makes A Winning Pitch Deck?

    There are five key factors that will impact the effectiveness of your deck in your fundraising efforts.

    Fit For The Investor

    Above everything else, winning with a pitch deck isn’t about just crafting an amazing work of art and science that will wow all investors, it is about fit.

    It is having the right deck that wins over a specific investor, or investor profile. It is about meeting and exceeding their expectations so that they’ll take a bet on you.

    So, make sure you are focusing on match more than dazzling them with looks and slick one-liners, or how ingenious your product is.

    Pitch Deck Flow

    The flow of your pitch deck and the order of your slides can be even more important than the content on them.

    If you don’t follow the right order of information that investors want and expect, you are going to throw them off.

    They can be so distracted by that or turned off by it that they glaze over and don’t take in the messaging you are really trying to convey.

    Even if you’ve hit all the right data, and you have the best invention ever thought up in human history, it can all be a wasted opportunity.

    You typically aren’t going to get a second chance to get that investor’s attention and win them over after going back to redo your deck in this round. So, how to design a winning pitch deck that grabs that attention?

    The Text

    The words in your pitch deck can be worth millions of dollars. Never mind just the opportunity to work on your mission.

    That doesn’t mean you should be cramming them in. Less is more.

    It is about how succinctly you can convey the most important points in words. Craft and choose your words wisely.

    Make sure the language is right for those you are pitching to.

    Visual Design

    While the aesthetics can definitely come in a distant second to the above factors in creating a winning pitch deck, looks are still important.

    In fact, with all of the competition out there, the visual design of your pitch deck is only becoming more pivotal to getting funded.

    Some may choose to get fancy and innovative by embedding video in pitch decks, as well as other interactive features.

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    Yet, you can still nail it with a static design as well. The visuals make the first impression.

    They need to match and convey your branding and flip the right psychological triggers with the investors you are pitching.

    Delivery

    Even if you nail all of the above, you still need to get the delivery of your pitch deck right.

    It doesn’t matter how beautiful it is and if you have crafted the perfect words if you don’t get your deck in front of your target investors, and in an effective way.

    Part of this is simply getting your message through and connecting with potential investors.

    Then you have to convince them enough to want to check out your pitch deck or get it passed far enough up the food chain.

    The deck also has to be easy to view, navigate, share and come back to view again. That’s the reason why you should learn how to design a winning pitch deck.

    How Would You Design A Winning Pitch Deck

    Here are the steps to follow to design a winning pitch deck to get your startup funded.

    Start With The Investor Profile

    Given that matching your pitch deck to your investors is probably the most important element here, even more than your specific product or service, you have to really know your investors.

    You can’t curate a deck for them unless you know and understand them, right?

    The better you get them and what is going to trigger a yes to your funding proposal, the more success you will have in fundraising.

    To the best of your ability, you want to understand this investor as an organization and the individuals you will be dealing with directly.

    What are their criteria for investing? What information are they looking for to make a positive decision on funding your startup?

    How do they prefer to receive pitch decks? What is the next step in their process that you need to trigger with your deck?

    What are some of the decks they have recently funded, and have had success with?

    If you’re interested in more in-depth information on how to create a pitch deck that is sure to impress investors, check out this video I have created.

    Choose How You Will Create Your Pitch Deck

    How will you go about creating your pitch deck? Who will do it?

    There are several ways to create your deck. An increasingly popular option is to hire an agency.

    The good ones are not cheap, and how much they will do for you, can vary a lot. It is now not uncommon for some agencies to charge as much as $50,000 or more to create a startup’s pitch deck.

    That may be extreme by some standards. Yet, given how much there is to win, the returns on your investment can definitely be there.

    Some first-time founders may be tempted to try to design their whole pitch deck in-house with their existing team.

    If you have world-class talented writers, graphic designers, and experienced fundraisers on the payroll you can probably do this. It will be a distraction from their other daily work, but it can work.

    If you don’t have all of these experts on your team, then you can also augment them with freelancers, or outsource it all to freelance talent.

    This can be a great mid-ground when it comes to crafting a winning pitch deck on a reasonable budget.

    Other aspiring entrepreneurs may be inspired to create their own deck solo. Some who are bootstrapping with virtually no budget may feel it is essential.

    If you plan to take this route, at least get a pitch coach and find a proven pitch deck template for a solid start.

    Outline The Flow Of Your Pitch Deck

    Whichever route you decide to take the next step is to outline the slides in your deck.

    Choose the appropriate number of slides for your pitch deck based upon your stage and round of funding.

    This probably ranges between 10 to 20 slides from a pre-seed round through a Series D or later.

    List out the slides in your deck in order. Bullet point the key points or data to convey on each side.

    Be sure you stick to the expected flow investors want to see. Keep this factor in mind when learning how to design a winning pitch deck.

    Script It Out

    Plan out the text for each of your slides. If copywriting isn’t your number one skill, then write out the points you must get across, and what you want to achieve with each slide.

    Then hand it off to a professional writer who can boil it down, massage it and turn it into high converting text.

    At the same time, you can create the narrative for your presentation. The script for what you will say when presenting your slides and giving your verbal pitch in investor meetings.

    Gather Your Artwork

    Next, decide on the visuals for your pitch deck. This may include a theme, with borders and backgrounds to use across all of your slides.

    It will definitely include carefully and intentionally picking your color scheme and fonts for your text.

    Make sure you have strong images to use in your deck. This can include logos, product pictures, and charts, and diagrams to highlight your data points.

    Be sure that all graphics are of great quality and work flawlessly in your deck as you share and present it in different formats on different-sized screens.

    Put It Altogether

    Put all of the pieces of your deck together. If you are not using a template where you can just plug all of these content elements in, you may want to get some help from a pro at putting slide presentations together.

    Practice

    Be sure to practice as much as possible. This includes testing, sharing, and sending your deck. It means viewing it as an investor.

    Plus, giving your live verbal presentation along with your slides in various mediums.

    The more you practice the more natural and smooth your pitching will be, and the more successful you will be in delivery, even if there are technical glitches.

    Summary

    How to design a winning pitch deck? With pitch decks so central to your ability to raise money and realize your vision for your startup it is vitally important to create a great one.

    Check out these key factors, and steps to creating a winning pitch deck, and get the money your venture needs.

    • Put it altogether
    • Practice
    • Get feedback & iterate
    • Start sharing and sending

    You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want me to help you with your fundraising, just book a call.

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