Ready to raise millions of dollars for your next startup fundraising round? You may be wondering what are the slides you need in your pitch deck?
Below is an in-depth commentary on a pitch deck template that I put together some time ago. It includes the slides you need in your pitch deck and that are necessary to pass the pitch test with potential investors and get the money you need to take your business to the next level.
Here is a quick summary of what those slides are:
- Market Size
- Competitive Advantage
- Customers and Engagement
- Business Model
- Amount Being Raised and Other Investors
- Use of Funds
- Back Cover
Before jumping into this commentary, remember that storytelling is everything which is something you will need to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
1. Cover Slide
First impressions are everything. This is especially true when it comes to pitch decks and asking for investment. This is the most important slides you need in your pitch deck.
Consider that even if you have an existing startup and have raised before, even a 16-page pitch deck can be a little long for the average investor’s attention span which tends to be 2.41 seconds on pitch decks according to studies. If you’re only asking for $20M, then each page is worth a million dollars.
Your cover is probably worth a lot more than that. If it isn’t awesome, no one is going to look at the next slide. Nail it and you’ll have a huge advantage over 99% of your competing startups.
This slide needs to show clearly what is the company and perhaps insert some of the contact details of the CEO like email or telephone number. This way potential investors know where to reach you in the event there is further interest.
Having a nice high-resolution image as the cover of the pitch deck definitely helps. You may use a plain logo or include as well an image on the background. Note that people tend to associate memories to images and for that reason, you want to have the investor remembering your pitch deck easily by including a powerful image.
Download this pitch deck template below.
2. The Problem
What is the big and urgent problem that your business is trying to solve? What do they have to believe to buy-in to your mission? What storytelling examples can you give?
The problem needs to be very clear and to the point. This is your chance to connect with the investor and to have them relate in a certain way with what you are doing.
When an investor gets involved with your venture is either because of one of the following things:
- They have experienced the same problem in the past
- There is a clear sense of ROI down the line for them
- Given their professional expertise they understand it (e.g. doctors with healthcare)
If an investor falls inside the three buckets of interest cited above at the same time, that means you got your lead investor. This may result in you securing at least 20% of the financing of the entire round that you are looking to raise.
When you are pitching in person you want to tell them the story of how you came across this problem. I see this often on the guests that I interview on the DealMakers Podcast where some of the most successful entrepreneurs share how they did it.
3. The Solution
How is your startup solving the big problem? What’s your vision and grand strategy? The tactics may change, but the idea should resonate as making sense.
Keep in mind the solution needs to be just one. Not three or four, especially if you are an early-stage startup. The last thing you want is the investor thinking that you are all over the place without focus.
On this slide, you want to come across as clear and as concise as possible. Perhaps a good image of the product in action is a good combination with some text in order to make a good impression.
Avoid statements referencing you being the only one doing this, you being the clear leader, etc. There are at least 100 people that have come up with that idea before you and other companies that may be tackling that same problem with a different approach.
If you are presenting in person I would recommend doing a demo of the product LIVE. Much more powerful than walking them through a slide. This way they will get it right away.
The problem and solution are slides you need in your pitch deck with a proper flow. The solution needs to come after your problem slide with a bang.
4. Market Size
How big is this space? How big is projected to get? What is your potential share of this market? If your numbers aren’t in the billions you probably need to think bigger.
The market size is critical as it will also determine the potential returns for the investor down the line. Probably one of the most important slides you need in your pitch deck. If you have the best product and the best time with a small market nothing matters. Too much risk for little reward.
Also, it is critical here to show growth. The last thing you want is to have the investor thinking that your market has touched the peak. For this reason, you want to project how the market will be growing over the course of the next 5 to 10 years.
5. The Competition
Yes, you have competition. Even if you think you are creating a new market, there are potential competitors. Be sure you have done your research well here, or you will fall flat on your face hard.
This is one of the slides you need in your pitch showcased via a diagram like the one showing above. This, in essence, is a good idea to show the investor the competitors that you have executed in your space. How you compare to them and where you land with your value proposition. A good resource to find potential competitors is Crucnhbase where you can search by sector or even keywords related to your business.
As shown on this slide you want to clearly differentiate yourself from the rest so that the person that is reviewing the slide gets what makes your company so unique.
As you can find your logo needs to be on the top right-hand side. From a psychology perspective that is where the eye tends to go when looking at a new slide. You want to make sure that your logo stands out from other competitors.
Perhaps another slide that you want to include is one that describes how much capital each competitor has already raised in the past and at what valuation. This could help in providing some perspective of how much the market is paying. This could play in your favor when the time comes to negotiate the terms of the deal or proceeding with a potential investment.
Download this pitch deck template below.
6. Competitive Advantages
Even Uber has serious competitors. Compare how you will stand out against the competition, or even become an attractive partner or acquisition prospect for them.
As part of the slides you need in your pitch deck, on this slide, you want to talk about the advantages of your business and product. Some of the things you can include might be patents and other defensive IP, distribution channels that you have, partners, etc.
Basically what you want to communicate is why you have such a unique position within your industry that sets you as one of the leaders.
The best way to present this is with bullet points. You can also display some of the logos of your partners in the event your advantage is on distribution channels via business development deals.
7. Your Product
What is your product or service? This slide is all about showing screenshots of your product in action. To make it even more powerful you may want to add some description about the product itself and some quotes of some of your existing clients talking about how much they love your product.
As mentioned above you could also do a demo of the product to everyone in the room if you are doing this in person. This is obviously one of the slides you need in your pitch deck but if you are in person you can take it away and bake it into your narrative.
What traction have you accumulated so far? What is expected by investors will vary by funding round. It’s best to focus on fewer or one main metric to keep it simple and maintain momentum. It could be users, sales or profits.
This slide is probably the most important of the slides you need in your pitch deck because it shows validation. When it comes to the traction it can be presented in different ways. Depending on the business traction could be in the form of registered users, acquisition strategy, user retention, or revenue growth month over month.
From my perspective, the most powerful way to show traction is by showing a slide that displays how great you have been performing month over month in terms of revenue.
If you can show at least over 10% growth each month that is a good data point to share. Accelerator like YC require 15% growth week over week but that may be a bit aggressive.
If you are still pre-revenue then you want to explore another metric that shows progress and that would get prospect investors excited. Some metrics in this regard could be customer acquisition growth, retention, etc.
9. Customers and Engagement
How are your customers exactly? Are they enterprise-level, B2B or B2C? What is their profile? What are their use cases?
What is the feedback you’ve already received from potential customers and paying users? What is the press and others saying about your startup?
Here are well you could go as far as mentioning some of the metrics and historical data that you have been able to gather from your own customers. From the slides you need in your pitch deck this one will give some insights to the investor on how well you are tracking and measuring success. Here are a few ideas:
- How long do they stay in your platform
- What are the numbers around repeating customers
- What is the customer profile (age, location, etc)
- Customer acquisition cost
- The lifetime value of your customer
10. Business Model
What is your business model? How will you acquire customers? How will you make money?
Out of the slides you need in your pitch deck, in the business model you want to explain how you are making money from your operational structure. Depending on the industry in which you are operating you may want to go in detail into what are your margins and how much it costs you to acquire your customers.
What does your accounting look like? Are you making money? Are you profitable? Do you still have a sizable amount of cash in the bank from a recent round?
Hands down this is the #1 most important piece of information from the slides you need in your pitch deck. Investors spend over 23% of the review time on this single slide so you want to clearly describe your numbers.
Normally you want to shoot for at least 3 years of projections. There are some institutional investors that even ask for 5 years of projections.
Even though projections are a shot in the dark when you are dealing with startups, they do provide a good idea of where the business is heading and potential outcomes. It also gives a good idea to the investor as to how grounded the management of the company is.
This slide is more important than entrepreneurs normally think. When you first connect with an institutional investor they will ask for your pitch deck. 3 months later they will ask you at your next meeting where things are at and then they will make a decision. With this in mind, it is always a good idea to be more on the conservative side and to over-deliver. The worst thing that can happen is for you to completely miss the mark and under promise.
Additionally, you will need to have ready your financials in Excel format as investors may want to see that after reviewing your pitch deck. For that reason, you do not need to go into much detail on the deck. All you need is to provide a summary.
Download this pitch deck template below.
12. Amount Being Raised And Other Investors
What other investors have participated in previous fundraising rounds or have pledged to participate or lead this round?
From the slides you need in your pitch deck this is what I call the social proof slide. Here you want to add existing investors that could serve as social proof for prospects.
Some of the people reviewing the presentation may already know one of your existing investors. For that reason, it is good to have them included as it ultimately increases your chances of getting funded. You‘d be surprised by how small the world is. Everyone knows each other. Especially in the venture world.
Moreover, it is key that you don‘t place one specific amount on the slide. As shown on this slide you will be able to find a range.
For example, if you place just $5M then funds that invest up to $3M will not look at your deal. The same would happen if you were to leave just the number $3M. By saying that you are only raising $3M then all the funds that are only investing up north of $4 or $5M will not look at your opportunity.
For the reason stated above by adding a range you get to include everyone and as a result, you will increase your chances of receiving investment as your funnel of prospects is much wider.
13. Use Of Funds
What are you going to do with any money you receive in this round? Why is it needed? Or is this round more about recruiting great stakeholders to get you to the next level?
Out of the slides you need in your pitch deck this will tell investors how well you have done your homework. You definitely want to get this slide right. Before having this slide created, put together an outline of your 18 to 24-month plan so that you have a clear understanding of how much money you will need to have in order to execute the strategy.
In the event you are not clear or miss the mark on certain things where you should be investing company resources, you will end up giving a really bad signal to prospects. Investors could have a negative interpretation thinking that you do not have a good grasp of the space. Also, investors will be left with the impression that you don‘t know why you are raising money.
Ultimately a company without true north is very dangerous.
14. The Team
Along with your cover and financials, this is one of your three most important pitch deck slides. As an early-stage startup, your team is the number one thing investors are evaluating. It’s the make it or break for those that end up investing in you. Spend time in making this slide great.
Instead of putting the entire team, by including your most junior people, I would only have on this slide the key people in the company. This could be the founders and other senior folks that are running the company with you within the management team.
Startups move very fast and the junior people tend to switch working places too fast. Especially millennials. It is not a good idea to have investors review your presentation and then three months later have them see people changing in your organization. Investors could interpret that things are not working for the business reason why employees are leaving.
Also, do not put the entire bios of the management team. I would recommend putting a few important bullets on each member. This could be companies they worked at before your startup and perhaps some impressive accomplishments (e.g. NYT Bestselling Author, serial entrepreneur, 3 major exits, etc).
Download this pitch deck template below.
These are the folks you have brought on to help guide you in the right direction. Make sure that you are stating clearly what is the expertise they are bringing to the table. This is another slide that provides social proof from the slides you need in your pitch deck.
Your advisors will be changing as the company matures. In the beginning, the type of advisors you want is the celebrity type, the very successful people that would make you look good, etc. However, when you are a little bit more mature in the lifecycle of the company you want people that would be very much involved with your strategy providing guidance.
Advisors are also a great way to receive introductions to other investors. They serve as well as social proof to show others that you have respected and accomplished individuals helping you out to push things forward. Essentially you are communicating you are not just a random person with a random idea.
16. Back Cover and Contact Information
From the slides you need in your pitch deck this is the part where you take the time to thank the investor for reviewing your presentation. Especially for making it this far through your deck.
Repeat your contact information so that they can get in touch if they are interested in funding you, or at least setting up a meeting. Make your contact info obvious and easy. Use whatever channel is easiest for them, and which you’ll be on top of responding to fast.
Other information that would definitely help to beef up this section is press mentions. Some quotes from articles in which you were mention could be nice to have here. Have such quotes included with the logo of the media publication in which you were featured.
Your entire business idea and future can all ride on the power of your pitch deck. These are the most important slides you need in your pitch deck, and what to make sure you get on them.
Don’t let this step bog you down, but for how vital success is here, it’s worth investing in making your slides great or getting some feedback from a fundraising consultant, before you blow any pitching opportunities.
Check out the Inner Circle for fundraising training as well where we help entrepreneurs from A to Z during the fundraising process and where you will unlock the following resources:
- Monthly calls with me and Mike Seversen where we provide training and Q&A on everything related to capital raising efforts
- Over 30 hours of training content on fundraising and financial modeling
- Tons of templates (pitch deck, due diligence checklist, executive summary, NDA, term sheets, convertible notes, etc) that you could use for your fundraising efforts
- Access to several lists of investors that you could use (VCs, angel groups, angel investors, family offices, etc)
- Private Facebook group where you could network with hundreds of founders
- And many more perks!
Download this pitch deck template below.