People ask me: “How many slides should the startup pitch deck have?” Or they’re sticking to a template that forces them into something that doesn’t work. So is there one “right” way to do a pitch deck? I think so! But if everyone uses the same method, won’t they all look the same? The answer is a resounding no!
Buildings are built with the same idea — a foundation, frame, walls, windows, paint, etc. But each building has its unique characteristics. Without a proper structure, however, your building might collapse. So too, your pitch!
With a Startup Pitch Deck, it’s All About The Story.
So what is that elusive structure? It all comes back to our neanderthal brain craving the structure of a story.
People often are confused by the term “Story” — they think it’s just about standing around telling anecdotes, inserting a meaningless joke or “dumbing down” serious materials to the level of stupid or silly. On the contrary:
1.) Stories are thousands of years old; they’re the reason information has survived from generation
2.) We learn through stories
3.) Stories inspire, captivate, resonate and influence! Aren’t those the things you want when pitching for fundraising or sales?
4.) And most important, our brains are hardwired for a structured story. And there is a VERY specific structure that stories have — look at Shakespeare, Dickens, even the Bible — the stories all go the same way:
Problem — Solution — What Happened When the Solution Came into Play — The Aftermath…
…And your Startup Investor Pitch Deck is merely a story, and the entrepreneurs are merely players 😁📖🎭
The Magical Structure of Your (Startup Pitch Deck) Story
Here is a high-level outline of the slides as they correspond to the story format:
- The Need = The problem, the “villain” of the story
- The solution = The “hero” of the story, what will solve the problem and slay the villain?
- The Business Plan = What will happen after the hero takes action?
- Moving Forward = The aftermath, hoping that the hero is triumphant!
Now I’ll go through slide by slide and explain each one.
Company Name and Logo Title Slide: One Line about what it is you do — go for the big vision statement, not WHAT you do, but WHY you do! Hit them in the gut with this!
Problem Statement Slide: Here’s the place to describe the gap/problem/challenge that needs solving. This is best told in a story — your own, a friend or family member, something from the news or even a made-up story to illustrate it. Back up the story with statistics showing this is an issue worth lots of money and hint that current solutions aren’t cutting it.
Solution Slide: How are you solving this? Create a simple solution sentence: We’re doing X (solving a problem) for Y (for a specific audience) by Z (in a nutshell, what are you? A Platform/App/solution/tool/etc.) and as a bonus, the secret sauce that is enabling you to do it. This should be so simple that anyone could understand it, even if they don’t have a computer science or engineering degree.
Demo Slide: Create a 1 to 2-minute demo showing off your solution — it could be a short film, screenshots, a ScreenFlow or even a mock-up. Guide them through a first-time user experience and highlight 4 to 5 of the standout features. Make them go WOW, but don’t overwhelm them with details.
Benefits Slide: Highlight the important benefits to your users (if this has already come across in the demo, don’t repeat); keep it at 6 to 8, no more. You might have two types of users, i.e., Businesses and Customers or Publishers and Brands — you can list benefits for each.
Startup Traction Slide: What are the major milestones you’ve hit in funding, product, users, downloads, revenue, growth, endorsements, partnerships, etc. since you launched or launched beta. If you haven’t launched yet, where are you at? The later stage you are, the more metrics you need to show.
Market Analysis Slide: The numbers of the TAM (Total Addressable Market), SAM (Segmented Addressable Market), and SOM (Share of Market) so they get an idea of the size. Put the value of the markets as well — what was the spending on similar solutions last year? You can go top-down or bottom-up — the most important thing to show is that you have a huge potential market!
Trends and Opportunities Slide: This slide is a silver bullet! It’s the “Why us, why now?” This slide is the place to really show movement in trends and opportunities — have there been major fundings or acquisitions among your competitors? Did an industry leader or a research firm like PwC, Deloitte, Gartner, etc. say that a solution like yours is missing? Are there market trends among your users showing a shift in behaviour? Was there a change in law or regulations mandating people or companies to find a solution like yours?
Business Model Slide: What is your main revenue model (subscription, ads, affiliate, rev share, etc.)? What are some additional revenue streams?
Go-to-Market Strategies Slide: What strategies will help you penetrate the market and gain users? Remember, you might not have money at the beginning for things like a sales team, so look at different phases — likely you will start with strategic partnerships, distribution channels or, before that, content marketing or social campaigns.
Competitive Landscape Slide: Detail your top 4 to 6 competitors and include a short SWOT for each. What do they do differently? What are they doing that you will do better/different? What makes you unique when compared to them?
Team Slide: Who are your Executive team members? Pics, titles and a few important facts about them. You can add logos of outstanding organisations they’ve worked for, been affiliated with or studied at. If you have an Advisory Board, add them too — it might need a separate slide.
Roadmap Slide: What are your major milestones to be hit (product, marketing, revenues) with the time this funding round will last for — 12/18/24 months? Trying to put in financial projections past that is not entirely necessary — you can have a financial model, P&L, and projections slide in your back pocket that you could send out as needed.
Future Directions Slide: Any exciting additional features or products in the pipeline that you intend to work on later? Maybe this is just the first step in a much bigger vision!
Funding Requirements Slide: Seeking RX million for — List the main allocations such as R&D, Sales and Marketing, Team Expansion, etc. Round Objective — This will take us to X months, X # of users/revenue/downloads, etc., to break even/be cash flow positive — wherever you will be when you are ready for the next round.
Key Investment Merits Slide: Sort of a summary of what you’ve already said — the 5 to 6 bullets highlighting the most exciting things about your startup that make you an attractive funding opportunity.
Ready to Design your Startup Pitch Deck? Here’s an example of a Past Client’s Pitch Deck we Designed that Successfully Secured Funding.
Does Size Matter in your Startup Pitch Deck?
There is no magic number for slides! As long as they are simple, communicate one big idea and aren’t loaded with text, they will not count the slides as you go through. So if you need to spread some of the data onto more than one slide, don’t sweat it — I’d rather see you have more simple, clear slides than fewer slides that look like eye charts!