Neil Patel

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Pitch decks vs investor decks – every startup owner should know the two concepts and how they work.

Every successful business starts with a concept. Having a great pitch deck is a sure-fire way to get the idea off the ground.

There are two types of decks to consider depending on who you’re pitching to, namely pitch decks and investor decks.

They both have vital slides that are common in both presentations:

Too many founders learn too late that having both of these documents prepared in advance and understanding which to use at various stages in the investor-courting process is invaluable.

A common misunderstanding that leads to poor presentations is that pitch decks and investor decks are the same. Even though the terms may often be used interchangeably, along with other similar terms.

There are differences between pitch decks and investor decks that you must recognize to maximize their effectiveness. Especially, if you are asked for a specific deck.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

The Pitch Deck

You’ll use a pitch deck when pitching on stage or in front of an audience. The goal of the presentation is to help sell you and your vision.

  • It is about making the audience excited about what you are doing, and wanting to be a part of it.
  • It enhances your live presentation
  • You use it to tell a narrative. In basic terms, the story of your vision
  • It’s quite visual, with several presentations consisting solely of images
  • Focuses on the problem and your unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Introduces the market opportunity, the staff, and the company’s long-term goals
  • Slides should provide the most basic information, with photos and graphics to supplement rather than extensive lines of text
  • For a large audience that is unlikely to be familiar with you or your company

The Investor Deck

When distinguishing between pitch decks vs investor decks, understand that an investor deck can be seen as a teaser.

You’ll submit it ahead of time via email, either before the meeting or to secure the meeting.

Or You’ll more specifically tune it for a financial investor’s mindset, versus other decks which can also be used to gain awareness for your venture, recruit team members, and more.

Know who you’re delivering it to, so you can predict how much, if any, prior knowledge they’ll have on the subject and edit accordingly.

  • It does not require any additional background or explanation and can be read by itself
  • Discusses your vision in a more business-like manner
  • Usually, no more than 10-15 slides long
  • Slides will have more content, and writing in short paragraphs is okay
  • Introduces the issue and discusses the most important value proposition
  • Focuses on the startup’s market opportunity and competitive advantage
  • The emphasis is on the team and their credentials
  • Usually delves deeper into the go-to-market strategy

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.

An Investor Deck Should Stand Alone

You’ve successfully reached out to a possible investor and are thrilled that they’re interested in knowing more about your brand-new concept.

They’ve requested that you give more information by email in the form of a pitch deck. This is where the uncertainty begins.

What exactly are they looking for? They want a presentation that is self-contained and does not need any explanation.

What they truly want is an investor deck from you.

To begin with, consider your investor deck as a tour of your business concept. Unfortunately, a potential investor is about to explore your business idea without you.

You can see how vital a well-thought-out investor deck is right there. Your investor deck should be self-explanatory and provide a clear image of your startup without boring or overloading them with content.

Remember that investors have seen many badly written pitches from entrepreneurs that don’t emphasize the most important question that investors ask about every presentation they see: “Why must I invest in this specific startup?”

It is safe to assume that investors don’t have high expectations from your investor deck and are often extremely skeptical.

If you can offer them an outline of your company that is still interesting to read while still focusing on your growth metrics and traction.

Only then will you be on your way to a positive reaction and a real chance at funding.

Pitch Decks Compared to Investor Decks

When founders often develop their investor deck before creating a pitch deck, they often convert their investor deck into something they can pitch their startup to a general audience.

This can be a big mistake, as the two decks aim for entirely different situations and are easily distinguishable. Learn to make the distinction between pitch decks vs investor decks.

If you begin with an investor deck and try to change it into a general pitch, you’ll wind up with a presentation with far too much data and an emphasis on the wrong things.

Unlike an investor deck, which advocates for your startup’s financing, a pitch deck fights for its survival.

If you start backward, you will miss out on narrative opportunities that are only available while pitching in person. Why would you sabotage your chance to sell yourself to the audience in a pitch?

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Pitch Decks Are Not Rewrites

It may seem that modifying your investor deck and then using it for your pitch deck is a time-saving solution.

You may even believe that repeating concepts and material in your pitch deck will help investors remember them.

This repeating, however, is a mistake that many startups make while pitching and presenting.

On the other hand, an investor deck focuses on providing investors with the information they need to make an investment choice in your startup.

In contrast, a pitch deck’s central message is all about piquing an investor’s interest in your startup.

A pitch deck provides a synopsis of your business concept as well as an attractive preview. It is your chance to add a personal touch and establish trust with a potential investor.

Also, and maybe most significantly, include yourself and your enthusiasm in the business equation.

You should also remember that the investor may have gone over your investor deck in detail. So when it’s time to give your pitch deck, you’ll need to switch gears and create a new presentation.

For an investor, nothing is duller than a startup presenting their presentation using the same PowerPoint they used to introduce themselves.

So, learn the importance of pitch decks vs investor decks and the appropriate time to use them.

Knowing Your Audience

The key difference between a pitch deck and an investor deck is that they were created for specific audiences.

Investor decks are designed for corporate and financial investors and decision-makers. It’s also reasonable to presume that the audience of an investor deck has a good understanding of how to start and run a business.

Pitch decks, on the other hand, are intended for a wide range of people. Pitch decks must be broader and more approachable with their messaging because their backgrounds and knowledge are more diverse.

The first step in delivering more effective communications is to understand your audience.

The answers to the following questions will differ according to who you’re talking to:

  • What information does my target audience require from me?
  • Which misunderstandings do I want to bring to the table and dispel?
  • What kind of first impression do I want to leave?
  • After they’ve heard the pitch, what do I want them to do?
  • What are the questions I’d like to get asked?

If you’re talking about an investor you’ve met, or a general audience hearing your pitch for the first time, the responses are incredibly different.

Giving such information out of context makes you look foolish, and it wastes your audience’s time as well.

For this reason, understand the difference between pitch decks vs investor decks when designing your presentation.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

How you make your audience feel is as important as how you talk about yourself and what you do to make an impact.

It’s critical to say what’s most important rather than what’s most impressive or complex.

The purpose of a general audience is to learn about you, not the market you’re in or the technology you’re developing.

Even if your audience doesn’t fully get what you do, they should learn more about you and how you think.

It all comes down to being contextually relevant, demonstrating to your audience that you are ready for them and that they can trust you.

Don’t make your audience think about two things at the same time. That is to say, a slide or set of slides supports a single concept, not that a single slide supports various ideas.

Express Value in a Different Manner

The more information you have about your target audience, the better you can personalize your content and marketing to meet their needs.

What your audience is looking for determines the perceived worth of your presentation.

Investors will want a comprehensive picture of your financial estimates and company goals for the months following your launch.

In the context of a pitch deck, presenting the same level of technical detail may not be as effective.

Unlike investors concerned with a company’s measurable profitability, general audiences are more interested in how a product or service might significantly improve their daily lives.

Would you like more information on how to pitch an idea to an investor? Check out this video I have created explaining in detail how it’s done.

Getting Your Message Across

If your pitch aims for these basic objectives, the amount of effort you ask the audience to undertake should be kept to a minimum.

Do you need your audience to read in-depth market data if all you want to say is that there’s an opportunity?

Do you need to delve into each team member’s unique background to demonstrate that you’re a good fit for this project as a group?

The answer is most likely no. It’s usually best to save those specifics for a follow-up meeting. That’s because anyone interested will undoubtedly inquire about them or contradict what you’ve said.

Allow others to question you and embrace those questions rather than being protective about your beliefs from the start.

The best live pitches are centered around creating questions that pique the audience’s interest. It’s hard to persuade someone in five minutes, but it’s possible to entice them.

The efficiency of a general audience pitch will be determined by whether or not your audience cares, not by how much they understand.

An investor will usually only glance at your investor deck if they are interested in the first place.

You can capitalize on that interest by taking the time to educate and inform the investor, but that is essentially different from getting someone enthusiastic about you and your concept.

An investor deck answers questions, whereas a pitch deck raises new ones. You want to offer your audience the space and, in a sense, the curiosity they need to be inspired.

A pitch founded on market size and opportunity, or even in-depth statistics on the problem itself, asks its audience to analyze the present with a clinical eye rather than dream about the future.

Tell Your Story

Every great pitch requires a story. When you structure your presentation with a narrative, it has a much more significant influence on your audience.

Consider the three-part structure of the story, with your setup being the first part.

The first few slides of your presentation should set the tone for what you’re about to say.

  • “What issues need to be addressed?”
  • “How can things be done better to improve people’s lives?”

Questions like these provide a seamless transition into the next part of your story.

Part 2 is titled “confrontation,” It refers to your company’s response to the issues raised in Part 1. This is where you get into the intricacies of your product or service.

The third and last part is the resolution. This links the material together by highlighting the features that distinguish your products or services.

This simple framework directs your audience’s attention and interests, regardless of background or expertise.

It appeals to every person’s natural desire to hear stories conclude. So, work out how to make the distinction between pitch decks vs investor decks.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that many potential investors are reviewing a large number of proposals each week. They may lose focus if you bombard them with too much filler information.

So, when you’re creating your investor deck and your pitch deck, go over your statements and ideas with a fine-toothed comb.

You should ask yourself, “What am I trying to say here, and why is it important?”

This will assist you in identifying information that is genuinely on message and identify extraneous information that may be removed.

This can help streamline your investor deck and pitch deck, removing unhelpful, redundant, and distracting material.

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 help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

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