Creating a Pitch Deck: Tips and Best Practices

Article by:
Maria Arinkina
15 min
A quality pitch deck for startup teams and modern businesses is a key piece of the growth puzzle. With their persuasive visual composition, well-put-together slides can open the doors to new opportunities and funding. But how do you make them engaging and informative for potential investors? Learn what is a pitch deck in business and how to put together a pitch deck that'll rock.

You've all seen movie trailers, right? They're short, spark interest, highlight the key scenes, and the 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.

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. Crafting one is tough, but there are secrets to how to make a good pitch deck that'll get others fired up and enthusiastic about the product or idea.

On this page, we'll introduce you to this vital documentation type, explaining how to create a pitch deck presentation for startup fundraising purposes. We'll also note what information is necessary to put together a solid pitch deck, how to cherry-pick the "must-have" information and data for the slides, and share expert tips. 

What Is 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 aim 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.

Pitch deck definition

The investor 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 fundraising pitch deck can contain information about the:

  • company and the story behind its creation;
  • service, complete product, or built MVP;
  • competitive advantage and value proposition;
  • team;
  • financials, analytics, projections, and needed funding;
  • business and growth plan;
  • overall plans for the future.¬†

What Is a Pitch Deck Used For?

So, what is the purpose of a pitch deck? There are multiple use cases, but it mostly serves as a visual aid.

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 also 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.

How to Structure a Pitch Deck: Main Sections

Your presentation and supporting slides should be like a fluent song. Think of this combo as a duet of guitar music and a singer, when both complement each other and make sense separately. The composition should have a beginning, a culmination, and an ending.

Here's a common investor pitch deck structure, broken down into parts. Each part can include one or several slides:

Part 1: Introduction (a cover and thesis with key info about who you are and what you do) 

Part 2: Problem (the problem in focus, business opportunity, and proposed solution)

Part 3: Product (could be the product demo, core features, traction, analytics, feedback)

Part 4: Market (research, total addressable market, go-to-market strategy, business model)

Part 5: Why You (your team, its competence, your competitors and how you outperform them, your product development roadmap and plans)

Part 6: Summary (a conclusion with contact details and/or your ask with projections, financial details, and argumentation on what the resources will be spent on)

Core Pitch Deck Characteristics

Which qualities do successful decks share? There are a few characteristics of a pitch deck that make it effective. A good one:

  • tells an engaging story of your company and offering;
  • is memorable, well-designed, and easy to follow;
  • has a personal touch;
  • is attention-grabbing and builds excitement and an emotional response;
  • highlights the benefits, uniqueness, and competitive advantages;
  • makes business opportunities seem irresistible;
  • is persuasive and convinces investors that they can make money.

What to Include in a Pitch Deck

Investors often see dozens of pitches. So what can you do to increase the likelihood of getting noticed? Start by taking the time to think through the content and mind that it's not just about what to put in a pitch deck, it's about the how as well. Ideally, you need a combination of consistent content with enough visuals and a simple but elegant design.

How many slides should a pitch deck be? Well, limiting yourself to about 10 or 11 slides could be a good idea. Some teams use up to 20 slides, but, in most cases, this is an excessive number. And as regards what should a pitch deck include, let's go over the musts to mention in it.

10 Common Pitch Deck Slides

What slides should be in a pitch deck? And what sequence of slides do pitch decks follow? Here are the basics that are generally included in the pitch deck outline with a logical sample order:

  • introduction;
  • problem;
  • why now and the target buyers;
  • solution or product preview;
  • proof of traction;
  • go-to-market strategy;
  • monetization model and plans on making money;
  • total addressable market;
  • team and advisors;
  • final overview.

These are the key elements of a pitch deck that are commonly present. However, what will actually be included and in which sequence is up to the presenter.

Have questions about pitch deck presentations?

Upsilon is a tech partner that provides support from getting your first funding to further product development.

Let's Talk

Have questions about pitch deck presentations?

Upsilon is a tech partner that provides support from getting your first funding to further product development.

Let's Talk

How to Build a Pitch Deck [Using a Real Example of a Pitch Deck]

Now that we know what should be in a pitch deck, next, we'd like to go over how to make a pitch deck, noting what to include with explanations and tips based on the example of a real deck. We'll use OneBar's slides to demonstrate the content, it's a tech product for knowledge management that was developed by Upsilon.

Slide 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.

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.

Plus, as you see in our pitch deck example, 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, if your email address is short, you can duplicate it as a static element with the same placement on all pitch deck slides, so it's always in sight.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Introduction Slide

Slide 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).

One Bar Pitch Deck - Problem Slide

Slide 3. Why the Time Is Now 

Think about why the problem should be solved now. It's crucial to support your ideas in your pitch deck for fundraising 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 when building a pitch deck.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Problem Needs Solving Now Slide

Slide 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. This is one of the nonobligatory components of a pitch deck, but if you believe that the information is important, you can mention it.

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 during your product or MVP pitch too.

Slide 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. These are essentials to how to make a pitch deck for investors more valuable.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Solution Slide

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.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Product Preview Slide

Slide 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.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Proof of Traction Slide

Slide 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.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Go-to-Market Strategy Slide

Slide 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. Your startup pricing strategy and further plans in this regard are vital as well.

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.

Slide 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.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Total Addressable Market Slide

Slide 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, 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.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Team and Advisors Slide

Slide 11. Final Overview

The "concluding chord" is very important. Mind this when creating a pitch deck for investors, as this slide might be up before their eyes for a rather long period of time, such as during the question-answer part or when you'll be discussing your funding ask.

One Bar Pitch Deck - Final Overview Slide

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 pitch deck 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 and 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.

More Tips on Pitch Deck Creation

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?

So if you want another trick on how to write a pitch deck for investors, make sure the slides tell a short, compelling story. It's a coherent narrative. And since you don't have much time to spark interest, 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.

Mind the Deck Structure and Timing

How long should a pitch deck be? As we've said, try your best to limit the slides to about ten or so, as this is a best practice. It should take a person less than 4 minutes to read the content of all of your slides (if the deck is reviewed separately without your simultaneous presentation).

As regards time, you might have only thirty minutes for the whole thing, so your speech and investor presentation deck have to be top-notch and clear.

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.

Visualize

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 data on them must be meaningful, avoid fluff and vanity metrics by all means.

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.

Apply Pitch Deck Tools

If you need a quick start, you can use templates to create your presentation. There are plenty of hacks and tools to create a pitch deck out there to simplify the process, here are a few:

Up-to-Date Data

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 into the technical peculiarities of your solution);
  • financial documentation (also provided on request, includes your financial plans, forecasts, reports, and possibly even graphs with expenses, costs, startup budget, and so on).

Looking for a reliable tech partner?

Upsilon can help you build, test, and launch a decent MVP.

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Looking for a reliable tech partner?

Upsilon can help you build, test, and launch a decent MVP.

Book a consultation

Final Thoughts on How to Create a Pitch Deck

We went over the detailed checklist on how to create a business pitch deck and highlight 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 or some estimates!

FAQ

1. What is a pitch deck for investors?

It is a slide presentation for potential investors created by startups or businesses aiming to obtain funding from Venture Capitalists (VCs) or other investors. The deck is used as a persuasive tool that generates interest. Such supporting material summarizes the key highlights of the product, the company's offering, and other details mentioned during the presentation.

2. What is the goal of a pitch deck?

Essentially, its goal is to serve as collateral material. Pitch deck slides encompass the major takeaways, making it easier to follow the presenter's words and summarizing the highlights as a reminder when the deck is sent as a follow-up. So, what is the primary goal of a pitch deck in the startup world? To act as a visual aid that features a concise overview of the presentation and helps convince investors.

3. Who should do my pitch deck?

Although the founders and key figures behind the project don't necessarily have to create a pitch deck for investors themselves and can delegate the slide design work to designers or other specialists, they should be the ones presenting it. For example, a CEO of a tech startup seeking investment can also have the Chief Technical Officer tag along during the investor pitch.

4. What should be included in a pitch deck?

The startup pitch deck outline commonly features such key aspects as the intro slide, the problem in focus, the offered solution, research, proof of traction, product overview, GTM strategy, competitive landscape, the team behind the product, and financials.

5. How many slides does a pitch deck have?

On average, teams stick to about 10 or 12 slides when designing a pitch deck. Some add more (up to 20), but this can be too much. The pitch deck slides order can vary based on the project and the presenter's needs.

6. What makes a good pitch deck?

An effective one has a clear structure, tells a story, is engaging, and features the core must-have pitch deck elements. Its design is elegant, the content is brief and easy to follow (with just the major points and takeaways). The deck answers the main questions, introduces the company and its product, grabs attention, and convinces the investors.

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