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The ultimate guide to a startup pitch deck

Turning your startup into a success is a great challenge especially if you are bootstrapping. In order to increase your chances of converting a good startup into a great one, you would have to raise money from investors at some point. This is where a startup pitch deck comes into play.

Whether you are a first-time founder or an experienced one with past success under your belt, you will need to have a great pitch in order to impress potential investors. You can have the best product in the world but if you are not able to convince your audience of its awesomeness and usefulness, you would be hard-pressed to go anywhere with your fundraising efforts. You will need to 'sell' your idea or product to the investors and the best way to do that is to use storytelling in your startup pitch deck.
Sounds daunting? That's because it is!
Your startup is your baby after all which you have worked so hard to bring to this level. Naturally, you want to highlight everything that is good about it. However, doing that in a short time during an investor pitch can get the best of you. You may end up with a pitch deck that is longer than necessary which usually means it won't keep the audience hooked.
Fortunately, most successful pitch decks follow a similar pattern. After studying the pitch decks of some of the biggest companies in the world today and having been on both sides of these pitch decks - as founders and then investors - we have come up with a guide to making your startup pitch presentation a success.
A pitch deck will normally consist of 10-20 slides but the core is usually made up of the following:

  • Problem
  • Solution/Value proposition
  • Market Size
  • Business Model
  • Competition
  • Founding Team
  • Traction
  • Fundraising

Let's take a look at how each of these slides impacts your overall pitch deck and what is their significance.

This is where you describe the problem your startup is going to solve. This is the pain point of the market you are in so make sure you let it know clearly. It can be anything ranging from a missing feature in the already existing products, a feature that you could improve upon or a new product altogether. As mentioned earlier, use the art of storytelling to get your point across effectively. One way of doing this is to tell your personal story how the problem has affected you or your friends/family. This makes it more personal and believable.

Solution/Value Proposition.
Describe exactly how your startup solves the problem. Don't overcomplicate it by going into the technical details here. Just focus on getting your point across in the simplest way possible and try to build a picture in the investor's mind of why and how much the market will benefit from your product.

Market Size.
You may have the greatest product the world has ever seen but it there is not a big enough audience willing to pay actual money to use it, you are in for a disappointment. Do your research and come up with definite numbers that define the true size of your target market.

Business Model.
This is arguably the most important slide in your pitch deck. Be very clear and concise about it and lay out your business model in as few words as possible. Answering the following questions can help you achieve that: How do you plan to monetize your product? Will you charge a one-time fee or a recurring monthly subscription? Simplicity is the key here.

Let's be honest. You are not the only one with this big, revolutionary idea that is going to change the world (well, not unless your name is Mark or Elon). Chances are, whatever your idea/product is, you already have some competitors in that space. Make sure talk about the competition and explain what makes your startup different/better. A nicely designed visual comparison chart can do the trick here by comparing your major product features with that of your competitors.

Go-To Market Strategy.
This slide should mention your top strategies for bringing paying users on board. How do you plan on acquiring the maximum number of users in the minimum amount of time while keeping churn low? What will be your top marketing channels?

Founding Team.
Ideas are a dime a dozen, especially in the startup world. Without a strong, competent team, you are not going to get far with your startup. Investors know that so they expect you to let them know that the founding team has the necessary skills of doing a good job with their money and making the startup a success. So, mention your core team and the skill sets they bring to the table in this slide.

If you already have paying users, pick your most relevant key metric and include it as a chart that shows how far you have come and how much more you can achieve once you get access to more funds.

What do you need to turn your idea into a reality or if you already have a working product, how can raising capital help you take it to the next level? Know your numbers and explain how you plan to use the funds once they are available.

The Ideal Pitch Deck Presentation
In order to build the perfect pitch deck, you can follow a simple three-step storytelling formula that includes:

An Intro – Discuss the WHY of your startup and clearly talk about the problem you are solving
Development – Develop your story by talking about HOW you are solving the problem, the team behind your startup and your vision on how the market/investors can benefit from your product. Include numbers if you already have users and SHOW the usefulness of your startup instead of simply telling it.
The End – If you've done the first two parts well, it is time to end your pitch with what you have been building up to till now: fundraising. Explain how much capital you are looking for, how it will be used and how much equity you are prepared to give in return. Be concise and clear about it and get ready to be asked some tough questions.

Final Word.
There are no hard limits to what you can and cannot include in a startup pitch deck. However, by using the industry best practices, understanding your audience and following a proven template, you can certainly get a head start in creating a successful startup pitch deck.