How to structure your pitch deck? In other words, what’s the right way to structure your pitch deck?
Your pitch deck is the vanguard and heart of your fundraising efforts. It will make or break your campaign and have a huge impact on your overall business success.
Sadly, many startups blow their chances of fundraising and bringing their vision to life just by poorly structuring their pitch decks.
Don’t make this fatal mistake that can rob you and your venture of all its potential. Check out how to structure your pitch deck the right way…
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Here is the content that we will cover in this post. Let’s get started.
- 1. Why The Right Pitch Deck Structure Is So Important
- 2. How To Organize Your Pitch Deck
- 3. The Cover Slide
- 4. The Problem Slide
- 5. The Solution
- 6. Market Size
- 7. Competition
- 8. Competitive Advantage
- 9. Your Product
- 10. Traction
- 11. Customers
- 12. Business Model
- 13. Financials
- 14. Funding
- 15. The Team Slide
- 16. Closing
Why The Right Pitch Deck Structure Is So Important
The truth is that you can get everything else right in your pitch deck, and yet waste it all due to not having it structured correctly. That may seem unfair, but it is how startup pitching and fundraising work.
You can have the most beautiful slides, with the perfect words on each one, the greatest idea, at the right time, and check all of the other boxes investors are looking for. Yet, if you don’t have your slides in the right order, no one may ever know. You may never have the chance to bring it to the world.
On average, investors only look at a pitch deck for less than four minutes. They may receive over 1,000 pitch decks each week. Most of them will be discarded before they get through the first couple of slides. They are just too busy.
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One of the first things investors will evaluate is if it is structured right. If startups can’t invest a few minutes to learn how to correctly order their slides, then why on earth would they invest thousands, millions, or billions of their capital into it? Never mind even their time to read through it.
It is basic common sense.
Besides, successful fundraising is all about weaving the right information in the right flow, in order to bring your prospective investors to the point where they are compelled to invest in you, and take action quickly.
So, what is the right way to structure a pitch deck?
How To Organize Your Pitch Deck
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.
The exact length and number of slides in your own pitch deck may range based on your startup’s stage and complexity.
As a brand new venture seeking your initial funding, you want to stick to no more than 10-16 slides.
Only if you are a late-stage startup, with a very complex business structure, and plenty of financials should you ever consider pushing the limits with 20 slides. More than that will deteriorate your chances of getting funded.
So, what order should those slides be in?
The Cover Slide
This is your all-important first impression. You can’t afford to blow this.
This slide should include your name, company name, logo, and contact information.
You can really nail it with a strong tagline. The design should be clean and simple, with colors that match your brand identity, and a layout that is carried through the entire pitch deck. Your fonts and everything else should represent your brand well.
Don’t overdo this slide. You just want a great introduction. As well as a fast and easy way for interested investors to open it, find your contact details, and get in touch to take the conversation to the next level.
The Problem Slide
This is where you jump right into what this is all about.
Savvy startup investors understand that the problem is the foundation of the entire company and opportunity. You can change just about everything else on the journey. It is highly likely your team, cap table, business model, and product will evolve over the next year or two. You can do this and succeed, and run the same company.
However, if you abandon solving this problem, this business really goes away. Or, at a minimum, you’ve been going in the wrong direction the entire time.
Many are funded mostly on the strength of the problem they are taking on.
Don’t make it complicated, but announce the problem, and demonstrate the clarity you have on it. Be sure you are ready to prove how you’ve validated it.
This is where you respond to the problem on your previous slide, by explaining the idea of how you will solve this big and urgent problem.
Do not get too deep or technical here. Especially as an early-stage startup. Chances are that your solution will evolve a lot over time.
Do convey your main mission and vision. Which can include a couple of bullet points on how you will change things. You may also be able to nail it by incorporating your elevator pitch line.
After your problem, this is the next major make-or-break slide in your pitch deck. It is one of the most important three factors in your pitch deck which determine whether you are fundable, or not.
Investors are looking for supersized returns. In order for that to be possible, you must be in a space with a huge market.
How big it needs to be will evolve over time. While getting to being a billion dollars big, used to be a big thing, now, companies are raising billions. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs are thinking about businesses that can be worth $50B, $100B, or even more than $1T.
Given it is unlikely that most startups will have a monopoly on their market, the market size needs to be much bigger than this.
This is typically most easily shown with a chart. Learning how to develop charts is an essential skill when you structure your pitch deck.
You are going to have competition. Even if you think you are working on a novel idea, which is creating a new market, you will have competition.
Don’t shy away from this, deny it, or ignore it. That will only be counterproductive.
Instead, be diligent in doing your market research. Know your competition. Understand what they are doing well and not, and what gaps and needs they are leaving in the market.
This is another slide typically best solved with a chart or graph. You can use this to show the differences in others in this space, and enable investors to connect the dots for why this is an opportunity for themselves.
This slide contrasts the previous one with how your business fits into the market.
You can use a graph of other images to show your positioning quickly in a visual format.
The stronger and more sustainable your competitive advantage is, the more likely investors are to invest in you. Pricing may not be enough. Having a more formidable moat around your business will give it the best chance to stay ahead of competitors, and have time to grow long enough and big enough to return investors what they are looking for.
What is the product you are using to solve your stated problem?
As an early-stage startup, this may just be your MVP or a prototype. Make it as real to investors as possible. Images and even screenshots can often convey this best. Even better if you can show it in use by customers.
Answer what your product is. You may also fit in 1-3 bullet point benefits that solve the problem your startup is on a mission for.
Do not get too technical, or give away all of your secret sauce here. It may only raise more questions, and distract and slow down investors. You also want to be able to share your pitch deck with as many people in the world as possible. Without turning off the best and most serious investors by asking for NDAs before seeing it.
How much real progress have you made on these great ideas?
Talk is cheap. What have you accomplished? On this slide, you may include a couple of bullet points of notable milestones that you’ve achieved so far.
Investors are also specifically looking at your growth rate. Are you growing fast enough to deliver on the returns they want? Each investor may have their own criteria. The younger your startup the higher the expectations of growth.
While success may not be a straight line. Investors want to see that you can maintain consistent growth at this pace. Even better if you can show your growth taking off, as a sign of finding product market fit. When you structure your pitch deck, include information on how you intend to gain traction.
Who exactly are your customers?
Investors want to know who it is that you believe are your ideal target customers, and how well you know them. Be as specific as possible. While keeping this slide clean and simple.
You may also include highlights of how many customers you have acquired, any notable customers you have contracts with, and the feedback you have obtained from users and paying customers.
How does your business work? How does it make money?
Quickly sum up how you acquire customers, what you are selling them, and how they will buy it. How does this cycle function?
While you’re reading about how to structure the deck, you’ll also want detailed information on how to create a pitch deck. Check out this video I have created where I explain each element in detail. You’re sure to find it helpful.
Here is where you get to include facts that show what you’ve been able to accomplish. As well as what you hope to do.
Note that this is the slide that investors typically spend the most time reviewing by far.
Use hard data from your historical financials to show how much money you’ve made, how many units you’ve moved, and what profit you’ve brought in.
Whether you have operating history and revenues or not, you will want to include a financial forecast. Keep this simple, easy to digest, and quick to read.
You only need a few lines in this table. Don’t confuse them or slow them down with too much data and detail.
Investors will want to see how many units you plan to sell, for what top line income, and your anticipated profit margins. More than just taking this as a prediction, they are looking at your goals, and if you really know your industry and business. Learn how to portray your financials favorably when working out how to structure your pitch deck.
Here you may deliver your ask.
How much are you looking to raise in this round? You may or may not lay out some of the highlights of terms you are looking for.
Other questions you may wish to answer in this space include:
- Which round is this you are raising for your startup?
- How much have you raised before?
- What investors have you already brought in?
- How will you use the funds you are raising in this round?
The Team Slide
This is one of your most crucial pitch deck slides.
Especially as an early-stage startup, the bulk of an investor’s decision is going to be made on the strength of the team.
Until you have more financial history and real data there is little else for investors to base their decision on.
Business is competitive. It can be a constant battle. So, they also need to be backing the best team in this space. As well as founders which have tremendous grit and tenacity, and won’t quit and lose their money in spite of the nonstop daily challenges.
You can expand on your cofounding team by including other key team members or notable advisors on this slide.
Remember that fundraising is sales and marketing. So, you need to structure your pitch deck to lead up to making a strong call to action.
You can thank them for their time. Though you absolutely want to reiterate your contact information here so that they can seamlessly click to take action and get you closer to getting funded.
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.