Pitching to angels or VC funds can be a daunting and ruthless experience as investors really want to dive deep and question almost every element of your startup. Although there is a huge amount of luck involved in whether you receive their coveted investment, you can at least make sure that whatever is in your control is as good as you can make it.
Although there are 100s of successful pitch decks, they definitely have commonalities in terms of design and content. These are eight vital slides that need to be in your pitch deck to capture the investors’ attention and alleviate any doubts.
1. Team — who is going to be steering the ship?
The founding team is arguably the most important slide in the entire pitch deck as it highlights the people that are going to drive this idea forward. Although experience would be nice, it’s essential that the founding team has complementary skill sets, a crazy amount of drive and genuine passion for the idea. Startup life is tough so investors need to be reassured that the team is going to see the idea through and won’t just give up at the first signs of trouble. On this slide, make sure you have clear images of the founders and a quick summary of their position (e.g. CEO, COO, CPO), education and experience. You don’t need to copy your entire LinkedIn profile but 100–200 characters should do the trick.
2. Problem — what are you trying to solve?
Every startup has a single key problem that it’s trying to solve. Whether it is to connect drivers and passengers or make payment integration easier, all successful business ideas solve a ‘pain point’ that customers are facing every single day. You should make sure that you are focusing on a specific problem while ensuring your market is still sizeable enough to make it worthwhile for investors and yourself. On this slide, try to summarise the problem in a single statement and place it boldly in the middle of the page. That should be the sole reason why your startup exists.
3. Solution — what are you going to do about it?
In most cases, your solution needs to be simple and clear. Is it a physical good, app, website or service? Why is this the best way to address the problem? How will it look? On this slide, you will want to include visuals and designs to help investors understand the customer journey and value proposition.
4. Market — how big is it and who else is here?
Investors love to see big (but reasonable) numbers, especially when it comes to market size and predicted market penetration. They want this venture to be worthwhile so are on the hunt for large, high-growth markets with minimal barriers to entry. In the past, I’ve been asked why I believe my idea is a ‘billion-dollar’ idea — make sure you don’t trip up on this kind of question! For this slide, make sure you have done some market sizing, researched current competitors and the extent of their foothold. Powerful, backed up numbers and competitor comparison charts are going to be well-received.
5. Business Model — how do you plan to make money?
Everyone in the room will be on the edge of their seat for this slide. The blueprint for how the investors are going to make their sweet money in almost no time at all. I would recommend you complete a draft of the Business Model Canvas prior to making this slide as it ensures you have considered all aspects of the business. On this slide, diagrams and metrics go a long way!
6. Marketing — how are you going to let people know?
These days, marketing is unfortunately more important than the product or service itself. On this slide, you should highlight what strategies you’re going to employ to get the word out there. Social media ads? Cold emailing? LinkedIn messages?
7. Financials — what does your bank balance look like?
Although financial projections can sometimes be BS, it is a must in any pitch deck. Now the projections don’t have to be super accurate but investors would like to be reassured that you have good financial knowledge, you can make evidence-based predictions, you understand the different revenue streams and costs and that there is a profit in sight. On this slide, you should include a clear table or graph that conveys this information and highlights key items such as the break-even point and annual growth rate.
8. Roadmap — what are your next steps?
There’s no point doing copious amounts of research and carrying out detailed financial projections if you don’t have an effective plan of action. On this slide, you should include key steps and milestones in the form of a Gantt chart or Kanban board.