Creating a Pitch Deck: Tips and Best Practices
Fundraising is never easy. Hence, when business owners and startup founders seek to get money from potential investors, having a decent presentation at hand is crucial. But how do you make a pitch deck that'll get others fired up and enthusiastic about the product or idea?
You've all seen movie trailers, right? They're short, highlight the key scenes, and good ones have what it takes to hook you to see the full film. Creating a pitch deck that’ll rock is somewhat similar to making a viral movie trailer.
On this page, we'll introduce you to this vital documentation type, explaining how to create a pitch deck presentation. We'll also note what information is necessary to put together a solid pitch deck, how to cherry-pick the "must-have" data for the slides, and share expert tips.
What's a Pitch Deck?
The basic pitch deck meaning is that it's a brief presentation used to propose a product, idea, or business to potential investors, customers, or partners.
Generally, pitch decks are accompanying materials used during presentation meetings. The deck's main purpose is to make it simple to follow what the presenter is saying, line out the product's major benefits, profit opportunities, and key takeaways.
The deck has to raise interest, be encouraging and intriguing, help make the presentation memorable, and get you one step closer to the next round of talks. As let's face it, the startup funding process is ongoing, and funds aren't ordinarily raised on the first try.
The pitch deck format, as well as its level of detail and length, can vary depending on the purpose, company, product, service, and audience. As a rule, this visual backup for a presentation usually consists of slides that should provide enough pertinent information about the company and product. This way, it becomes a persuasive tool.
For example, the deck can contain information about the:
- company and the story behind its creation;
- service, complete product, or built MVP;
- competitive advantage and value proposition;
- financials, analytics, projections, and needed funding;
- business and growth plan;
- overall plans for the future.
What Are Pitch Decks Used For?
There are multiple use cases. For instance, early entrepreneurs and startups often use pitch decks when seeking financial support or funding from investors, or when trying to join an incubator or accelerator program. Established businesses can need it for getting capital when launching a startup, during another round of financing, or when making an exit.
As such, the deck will come in handy when businesses reach out to a list of possible investors in an attempt to schedule a meeting, as well as during such presentation meetings. So, a pitch deck is not just a popular startup term, it's a tool that allows entrepreneurs to:
- bring the big picture to light;
- introduce the project, business, or service idea;
- demonstrate the current vision or version of the product;
- explain its value proposition in a concise and organized manner;
- formulate a funding request (if that's the aim).
Let's dwell on how to create a pitch deck for investors in more detail.
What Should Be Included in the Pitch Deck?
Investors often see dozens of pitches. So what can you do to increase the likelihood of getting noticed? Well, limiting yourself to about 10 or 11 slides is a good start.
Next, we'd like to go over how to make a pitch deck, listing what to include and using OneBar's slides to give you a decent pitch deck example. OneBar is a tech product for knowledge management that was developed by Upsilon. But you can always find professionals and use pitch deck design services.
1. Introduce Yourself
If you're not sure how to start a pitch deck presentation, you'll need a slide to help you introduce yourself. You should clearly indicate the name of your product or company with the logo and catchphrase. To create such a great union, you need to create a perfect logo with a logo maker that reflects your brand identity and increases your brand awareness.
Think of this as a super short description that has to explicitly convey what your company or product does and why it's valuable to customers. Limit it to about one sentence (or even a sentence fragment) that'll serve as a memorable slogan or vision statement that defines you and what you want to be remembered by.
It's also considered good practice to indicate your contact information on this cover slide too, but don't get carried away. For instance, leaving just your email address is enough. In fact, you can duplicate the email as a static element with the same placement on all pitch deck slides, so it's always in sight.
2. What Problem Needs Solving
So, why did you decide to bring this product to life or offer this service in the first place? How did you come up with the idea, and why is it a hot topic?
Use this pitch deck slide to describe the existing problem. Don't scatter the focus on multiple problems, choose only one major pain point (preferably one that's simple to relate to). Perhaps, you can fall back on a story from your personal experience. Yet backing up your argumentation matters a lot at this point, so share your proof of concept (POC).
3. Why the Time Is Now
Think about why the problem should be solved now. It's crucial to support your ideas with statistics or facts that would showcase:
- the unmet user needs;
- the current market state and market trends;
- the competitive landscape;
- why you see a "market gap" to be filled in this niche;
- or why this is an opportunity to get a hold of before it's too late.
Perfect timing is crucial when it comes to business. But don't make the listeners take your word for it, provide some data, evidence, and proof when creating pitch decks. If all of this doesn't fit on one slide, you can split your findings into two, but only if this information can really pull ropes and make a difference. Otherwise, drop the excessive numbers and facts.
4. Who's Facing the Problem
Optionally, you can dwell a bit more on who the potential customers, target buyers, or users are. Specify the target audience and how it can benefit from your product or service as much as possible.
Do you need to segment the customers? Details like your potential users' demographics, needs, and how you plan to reach and engage this audience count too.
5. How You Are Solving the Problem
What do you have in mind about the ways to tackle this problem? Present your ideas or product to demonstrate how you're addressing the problem. Note why your approach is optimal and effective, your unique selling point (USP) and product benefits, and why customers should choose you.
You've most likely already done something by now. Maybe you've done in-depth market research and gone through the discovery phase. Make sure to focus attention on how your solution differs from the existing competitors when creating a startup pitch deck. You can even compare your solution to the competitor's side-by-side.
Do you already have something to show? That's even better! If you have a prototype or MVP, share a preview of how the solution works or state that a demo is available. The quality of idea execution really matters, but don't go too deep into explaining the features and the technical details. Here you can also tell a bit more about the product's transformation plan down the line and its scaling capabilities.
6. Analytics and Proof of Traction
Nothing will prove more that your idea has potential than actual startup analytics data. Think of these elements of a pitch deck as the pinnacle of a movie trailer scene when you decide that you're going to watch the whole thing.
Single out those product performance metrics and KPIs that can verify that you're already visibly gaining traction. For example, you can show the number of monthly active users, how many early adopters you have on the waitlist, or how many successful sales you've made. Optionally, adding reviews and testimonials can put a positive spin too.
Nonetheless, mind that if your data only covers a short period of time (say, two weeks or so), these figures won't be persuasive enough. Hence, the longer you track data, the more dynamics can be seen, which is great.
7. Go-to-Market Strategy and Further Plans
You've explained how your product or service can serve your audience's needs. Now you can go over your startup growth strategies. What are your current goals and next steps? Which milestones do you have?
From our experience as an MVP development company that was once a startup, giving relevant information and a comprehensive view of your go-to-market (GTM) plan when making a pitch deck will help demonstrate your business model and the projections for the future. It can also show which steps you're taking to ensure success (for instance, your initiatives regarding customer acquisition, your marketing and sales strategies, and other ways you plan to receive a return on investment).
This will clarify the potential of your business and its chances for successful scaling and growth. Plus, it can shed light on the required funding range and what the money will be used for.
8. What's the Monetization Model
You may also continue outlining your product or service by sharing a few thoughts about the ways you make money. Are you putting the focus on profit from paid advertising? Or maybe you're opting for free trials or freemiums that are highly popular product-led growth strategies?
Provide the investors with a clear understanding of how your business is generating or will generate revenue. Explain your monetization model, how it works, and how it will help you achieve profitability and long-term success. If you have some data to share in this regard, you can place it on a separate slide. Otherwise, consider mentioning it in the previous one about the GTM strategy.
9. Total Addressable Market (TAM)
In this slide, you have to compare your market size to that of competitors. Of course, calculating and indicating an adequate estimate of the total addressable market bottom-up isn't simple. Yet this allows you to assess your product's or service's potential market size, its reach, and the profitability of your tech business ideas. The possibilities for business growth and your potential exit make a difference, likewise.
Is it a large market? What about your competition? If the market scale is impressive, this can be one of the reasons why a product or service like yours is necessary and worth investing in. But the financial projections have to be reachable and plausible since if your assumptions seem like wild guesses, your pitch won't be realistic enough. This is a vital point to note if you're wondering how to develop a pitch deck that'll be powerful.
10. Team and Advisors
Who sails the ship is fundamental. So, pinpoint a few key team members, co-founders, or bright minds with minor descriptions of their backgrounds. What have they achieved? Why does their contribution to the project matter?
Furthermore, indicating an advisor or two in a startup pitch deck can emphasize that your team receives valuable advice and knowledge about the industry and the market from experienced and accomplished people. This could be a business consultant, industry expert, a knowledgeable outsourced CTO, or some other professional. Including such names can give more confidence in your team, demonstrating the level of expertise you have access to, much like the strategic foresight provided by seasoned business plans consultants who can steer your venture towards success.
11. Final Overview
This is your chance to summarize everything you discussed and highlight the major takeaways. What is the most important conclusion you'd like to make? Summarize what the product's about, who it targets, and its prominent strengths. A good tip here would be to stress a few principal metrics, key performance indicators, or features that really make the product stand out.
Moreover, this last slide should drill down your contact details so that the people you're communicating with will have them at their fingertips as you proceed to the question-answer part of the presentation. The specific example above leaves just the email. Alternatively, you can simply add a QR Code linking to your electronic business card so that the audience can save your contact information as well as have all of it in one place.
Additional Pitch Deck Creation Tips
According to the startup failure rate, over 15% of startups fail because they weren't able to get funding, it's well worth approaching the pitch deck creation process seriously.
There are plenty of low-quality and substandard startup pitch deck examples out there. So here are some extra recommendations that can help you improve yours.
Use Storytelling, But Keep It Short
Your pitch deck has to "sound" like a melody even without your simultaneous explanatory speech. Think of this as muting the movie trailer, does what you see still make sense?
Make sure the pitch deck slides tell a short, compelling story. You don't have much time to spark interest, and the last thing you want to do is bore the investors with a run-on listing of cold facts, go into details like how you're distributing startup equity, or confuse them with excerpts that are impossible to comprehend out of context.
Hence, try your best to limit the slides to about ten or so. Similarly, leave under half an hour for your presentation speech so you'll have enough time to answer questions and have a discussion afterward. But don't rush.
Remember that forcing your listeners to make an effort to understand you is not a good idea. Therefore, the pitch deck structure must be clear. Each slide has to be placed in a logical order, and every argument must intuitively flow from your previous point.
Less Is More
It's tough, yet minimizing the text on each slide is very important to get the right idea across. What do you want the person to remember? Accentuate the main point, statement, or thing you want to draw attention to and put it in a larger font. The language used should be plain too. And ensure the texts and fonts are readable since "the simpler, the better" rule works perfectly in this case. The bottom line is to leave only the essentials for your pitch deck content.
The same applies to your design, by the way. Use your brand colors but stick to a consistent and simple pitch presentation design that isn't cluttered, or else you'll distract your audience. Remember that you need a professional look that aligns with your startup branding. And the best part is that you don't necessarily need to opt for intricate templates or fancy tools to create a pitch deck.
It makes sense not to overlook data visualization as you create a pitch deck. I.e., to help the deck serve its purpose, the slides should include visual aids that illustrate the points being made and provide context to the information.
Use simple charts, bars, graphs, timelines, or sketches to support what you are saying. But don't overwhelm the panel by including too much information. Again, restrain yourself to the bare minimum in this respect when you're in two minds about how to create a startup pitch deck that'll be appealing and meet expectations.
You'll likely present your pitch deck multiple times to various people. Therefore, to avoid misunderstandings, ensure that the information you show in the deck is relevant and fresh. Pay special attention to the numbers, statistics, and other data that can change in various startup development phases or over time.
What Do You Follow Up a Pitch Deck With?
As previously mentioned in our pitch deck guide, pitch decks can be considered collateral materials that are needed to provide the highlights and arouse interest. That is, they don't include detailed, in-depth reports, yet they can serve as an instrument that can get investors interested in requesting this extra information. Not to mention that later on they will likely initiate a technical due diligence audit if they seriously consider your offer.
After the meeting, consider following up by sending a cover letter with a few documents, such as:
- the pitch deck itself (save it in the PDF format to ensure that the designs and text formatting don't go off and attach it along with or instead of the link to the tool you used to create a pitch deck);
- an executive summary (this is a short written overview of what you presented, supporting the pitch deck);
- tech documentation (is generally provided on request but dives deeper in the technical peculiarities of your solution);
- financial documentation (also provided on request, includes your financial plans, forecasts, reports, possibly even graphs with expenses, costs, etc.).
Final Thoughts on How to Create a Pitch Deck
We went over the detailed checklist on how to create a business pitch deck and limelight the vital information. A deck is a powerful instrument that can help investors understand the potential of your product or business and induce them to make an informed investment decision. Additionally, it can allow you to draw attention to your product and get a better startup valuation for your company.
Upsilon's been a tech partner for multiple companies, providing MVP development services for early-stage startups and helping growth-stage businesses scale their products. And based on our years of experience, we'd say that it's simpler to convince investors and attract funds when a product has already gained some traction (instead of trying to persuade them to invest in just an idea).
We can help you move from the idea stage to launching a working MVP within 3 months or develop your full-scale product. Plus, you can count on our support in the long run, from getting your first funding all the way through to further product development. As a matter of fact, our clients raised over 175 million USD and had 2 successful exits.
Moreover, we work in sprints and give startups the opportunity to apply for discounted service rates via the tech for equity model. So if you have a project idea in mind, you're more than welcome to contact us to discuss your needs and browse our dedicated team pricing page!