Let’s face it: nobody particularly enjoys PowerPoints.
But in many cases, a PowerPoint—or a presentation built with a similar tool like Prezi or Slides—is often the best way to visually summarize and quickly convey complex information. And in some cases, this type of presentation is a requirement in the business world.
One of those cases is making a pitch for funding. That’s where a pitch deck comes in.
A pitch deck is a presentation that summarizes your company. It usually includes 10–20 slides that answer the following basic questions:
- What does your business do?
- Who are your customers?
- Who are your competitors?
- How is your business different?
- And especially if your pitching to investors: What do your finances look like?
To get a better idea of all the information you’ll need, I’ve outlined the different parts of a pitch deck below. I’ve also included some pitch deck examples from successful companies to help inspire you when creating your own.
What to include in your pitch deck
Every pitch deck is different. However, below are some concepts you should make sure to discuss in your deck.
1. Value proposition
This first part of your pitch focuses on introducing your business. You’ll need a brief—think Tweet-length—description of your business that succinctly communicates what you do and why customers or clients want to work with you or purchase your product.
Important questions to answer: What’s your business all about? How does it provide value to your customers?
Now that you’ve introduced your business, it’s time to introduce your customers and how they relate to your product or service.
Ultimately, people buy products or spend money on services because they’re trying to fix a problem. Outline that problem and the type of people who are looking to solve it.
Important questions to answer: What problem does your product solve? Who has this problem?
3. Target market
Here, you’ll deliver some specifics on the customer you’ve described. Realistically, you won’t be able to serve every person experiencing a particular problem. Instead, think about the type of person you actually do business with to create an outline of your ideal customer. Next, think about how many customers actually exist in the world and how many of them you can serve.
Important questions to answer: Who’s your ideal customer, and how many exist? What portion of the existing market do you expect to capture with your product?
4. Product or service
Now’s the time to introduce your product or service. Talk about how what you’re selling solves the problems you’ve outlined for your target customers. Including pictures of your product in action—if you have them—are great for this part of your pitch deck.
Important questions to answer: What’s your product, and how does it solve the problems you’ve outlined? Why will the segment of the market you’re targeting choose your product over those of your competitors?
5. Business model
Having a cool or useful product or service is great, but it has to be able to make money to be successful. Especially if you’re asking for funding, you need to be able to demonstrate how you plan on bringing in revenue for the long term. You don’t need to get into the finer points of your financials yet—you’ll do that later. However, you should be able to outline the basics of your revenue model.
Important questions to answer: How do you expect to bring in revenue? How does your pricing compare to your competitors? If you charge less, how can you afford to do so? If you charge more, why is your product worth it?
6. Traction, validation, and milestones
This is the part of your pitch deck where you get to compliment yourself and the successes your business has already seen. If you have early adopters or customers, you can use those numbers to support your potential future growth. Or maybe you surpassed an ambitious growth goal or heard a lot of support for your product at a recent conference. Whatever exciting achievements your company has experienced, note them here.
Important questions to answer: Do you already have buyers, users, or clients? Have you generated buzz or excitement around your company that could help generate sales? What proof do you have of your existing success, and how do you think that translates to future successes? Has your company already accomplished some of its major goals? How do you plan to keep growing and creating more milestone moments?
7. Sales and marketing strategy
Summarize your plans for getting your potential customers to take notice of your product or service. And then how you’ll monetize that attention with a winning sales strategy.
Important questions to answer: How will people hear about your product or service? How long and complex—or short and simple—is your sales cycle? Are your sales and marketing strategies different from those of your competitors? If so, how does that give you an edge in the market?
Introduce key members of your team here. Talk about what they bring to your business and why they’re the ones you’ve chosen to rely on to help grow your company. Summarize what they’ve already done for your startup and how you think that translates into future success.
Important questions to answer: Who are the key players in your organization? Why do you trust them to make your business successful?
9. Financial numbers
One of the most important parts of your pitch deck is your financial model. This is where you back up all of your claims about your product or service with some solid financial modeling. While you’ll want to have in-depth data and spreadsheets on hand to share with investors, your pitch deck should include broad outlines and easy-to-read charts that show how you predict your business’s financial growth.One of the most important parts of your pitch deck is your financial model. This is where you back up all of your claims about your product or service with some solid financial modeling. Click To Tweet
Important questions to answer: How do you predict your business’s revenue will grow over time? How much funding do you anticipate needing to make that happen?
There’s no such thing as a completely open market. Even if your product is the most innovative product ever invented, customers are already using something else to alleviate the problems it solves. Outline who you’re up against, and explain how you’re different from the solutions that already exist.
Important questions to answer: What alternative solutions exist to solve the problem your customers have? Are other companies already making a similar product or offering a similar service? How is yours different? And how will you capture some of the market share your competitors already have—or have failed to capture themselves?
11. Use of funds
After you’ve told the story of your business and the customer you’ll serve, it’s time to talk about funding. If you’re putting together a pitch deck to ask investors for money, they’ll have two ultimate questions for you: How much, and what for? Use this part of your deck to outline your funding request and show investors how helping you will pay off for them and your business in the long run.
Important questions to answer: Why do you need the amount of funding you’re asking for? How will you use the money you receive? How will the use of the money in that particular way help grow your business?
Pitch deck examples to model your own after
Now that you know what information to include in your pitch deck, take a look at some decks you can use as potential models when creating your own.
There are few startup pitch deck creators who don’t look at Airbnb’s deck for inspiration.
The main appeal of the Airbnb pitch deck, especially for first-time deck creators, is its emphasis on simplicity. It shows you don’t have to overthink either your design or your explanations to create a winning deck. Clear, succinct summaries and diagrams that give a snapshot of the important details about your company are the most important aspects of a deck that investors will love.
While no 2020 pitch deck creator would recommend putting so many lines of text on one slide, the Facebook pitch deck has great examples of a creative way to convey traction throughout its deck.
By using quotes from student newspapers on the campuses it served, Facebook was able to convey how much attention it was already getting from its target customers, college students. Positive press shows investors how successful your company is without their funding—and how giving you money could create more success they can cash in on.
When many tech startups describe their business, they often say something like, “We’re the Uber of [industry or service].” Not only is this a tired comparison, but it also does a disservice to the many takeaways you can glean from the Uber pitch deck.
One of the most interesting parts of Uber’s deck is the range of outcomes it shared with investors. It showed that the company had goals and could envision growing far beyond its worst-case scenario. But it also included a grounded vision of its realistic success, giving investors numbers to estimate their more likely returns. Including a range of outcomes can give investors more confidence in your startup by showing you’ve thought about a range of possibilities for the growth of your business.
Make sure you’re including everything you need in your deck
Ultimately your pitch deck should be a unique, succinct reflection of your business and your vision for its future growth. That will require lots of summarizing and boiling your business down to the most essential and exciting details.
Using any of the many available pitch deck templates you can find online, you can make sure you hit all of the main points about your customers and your startup. And using a bit of imagination and creativity, you can create a short, compelling story that will excite investors.
However, there’s one section of your pitch deck where imagination and creativity are actively discouraged. When describing your startup’s financials, investors want to see historic data and growth projections based on reality. To make sure you’re including concrete facts where they count, financial modeling software is a good investment to gain potential investors. Sign up for RaiseIQ’s waitlist to create accurate financial models—and presentation-friendly graphics and charts—for your startup’s pitch deck.