8 Great Tips For Creating A Winning Pitch Deck For Your Startup

So you’ve found a problem that you can solve with a unique solution, built a minimum viable product and maybe even found a few early adopters. What’s next?

Your pitch deck (presentation) acts as a visual guide and reference to the key points you want to make to potential investors.
At this point, it’s time to start looking for investors. You may have been able to bootstrap your way here, but if you plan on scaling up to the point where you can achieve your vision on a grander scale, the fastest way to do it is by raising capital. But of course, it’s not as simple as just holding out your hand and asking for money.

No, investors and venture capitalists want to be convinced that they’re going to get a return on their investment. They’re not going to throw money at someone who may end up flushing it away on a bad idea or poor execution. Adding to the challenge is that most investors and VCs receive thousands of requests for an audience each week. Of those, they only grant some time to a select few. If you make it through, you need to make the most of your opportunity to pitch them.

That’s where a pitch deck comes in. A pitch deck is a collection of slides that acts as the backdrop for your presentation. It acts as a visual guide and reference to the key points you want to make to potential investors, and it can be the difference between a failed pitch and one that lands you funding.

Here are 8 tips to help you craft the best pitch deck possible:

Follow the famous 10/20/30 rule
The famed marketing expert Guy Kawasaki created the 10/20/30 rule for startup pitch decks, and there’s a reason why investors love it so much. According to MaRS, the rule states that your deck should be no more than 10 slides long, take no more than 20 minutes to talk through and should be typed in no less than 30-point font.

This isn’t only for the benefit of the investors, who don’t want to be barraged by slide after slide while you ramble on about your business. Look at it as a way to bring a laser focus to your ideas and really hone your pitch. In doing so, you will streamline your own knowledge of your business and stay focused on your core competencies.

Start with an Elevator Pitch slide
Don’t wait to get to your main point – start with it. You should be able to boil your business idea and vision down into one or two short sentences that allows your audience to know exactly what you’re trying to do. This should explicitly state the problem you’re solving and why your solution is the remedy.

Include a demo
If you have a product or an idea, investors and VCs are going to want to see it in action. Photos and screenshots are good, and if you can include a live demo, even better. This may sound counterintuitive, but you should avoid showing a video in your deck. Showing video can open you up to a host of technical problems, like slow load times or if the video fails to play. You don’t want to rely on anything that could fail you in your big moment.

Talk about the market opportunity
Almost anyone can come up with a creative idea for a problem that’s out there. The question is: Is your solution a real business opportunity with a real market to serve? One Match Ventures recommends including the following data points when you create a slide that talks about the market you’ll be serving:

  • General market focus. Name it and illustrate its size in terms of units or revenue.
  • Target market. Again, you should be able to speak to the size of this intended market in terms of units sold or revenue.
  • Define your ideal customer. Are you selling to enterprises or small businesses? To individual consumers? Include the relevant information about who your customers are and what their core needs are.

Big market size + proven demand for your solution = a business idea that will pique the interest of your investors.

Talk about how you make money
Again, ideas are nice, but showing investors and VCs that you have a real business on your hands is the most important part of your presentation. It’s a certainty that they’ll want to know how you plan on generating revenue, so you should have a slide that explains just that. Whether you have a subscription-based or recurring revenue model, a one-off payment model or any other kind, you must be able to clearly articulate how you’re getting paid.

Include graphical elements
Your slides shouldn’t be purely textual. Graphical elements that catch the eye and condense a lot of data into an easy-to-read format are a great way to break up the text while still communicating your key ideas. Graphs, charts, photos – anything that helps you show instead of tell will be a huge asset in creating a deck that draws your audience in.

Dive into the finer points
In his Forbes column, Neal Taparia explained that you need to dig into the nitty-gritty of your business. Financial projections, technical information, competitive analyses, plans for marketing and branding your business, your management team – all of these and more are vital to investors’ understanding of your business. Be able to speak intelligently about these aspects if you want investors to see that you’re the man/woman for the job.

You may be wondering, “Won’t it be challenging to fit all of those points into a deck that’s only 10 slides long?”

Yes, but that’s where you need to remember that your deck is a guide. You can put the pared-down, essential points up there, but you should also be able to go off memory for everything that isn’t up on the screen. Showing that you did your homework will go a long way toward convincing investors that you’re serious about this business and will reward them with ROI.

Deliver with passion and excitement
You could have a slide deck that puts all others to shame, but unless you deliver it with enthusiasm and passion, it’ll be all for nothing. You might be rolling your eyes at this – people have been telling us to “follow our passion” our whole lives. But it’s true. Investors need to know that if they give you the funding, you’re going to have the passion and fortitude to make it through the inevitable setbacks and failures that come your way. The business model is important, but the people driving it are arguably even more so. Show them why you’re the right person or team to see this thing through.

How to get started today
If you’re ready to start pitching investors, here are some things you can do right now to start in on a killer deck:

  • Find a good designer who can help you organize your ideas and create graphics that will make your presentation pop.
  • Start pulling together the data you need to prove you have a profitable business idea.
  • Condense your vision and business down to one or two short sentences.
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