When an entrepreneur has a great idea, they have to put their money where their mouth is to get it off the ground. Starting a business requires initial capital to cover various expenses such as product development, equipment purchase, office space, marketing, and hiring talent. Similarly, entrepreneurs may seek funding to accelerate the growth of their business. This can be used to help expand into new markets, launch new products or services, increase production capacity, or add to their headcount.
Oftentimes they’ll turn to investors to back their new business venture. To secure the funding they need to cover these costs, they’ll have to craft a winning pitch deck that impresses venture capitalists and external partners.
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a presentation that outlines the key aspects of a business or startup to potential investors, partners, or clients. A business may use a pitch deck for different points of their growth, from seed funding to a series C.
The purpose of a pitch deck is to provide a compelling and persuasive overview of a business idea or venture, highlighting its value proposition, market opportunity, competitive advantage, and growth potential. It serves as a tool to generate interest, secure funding, or form partnerships for the greater good of the business.
What are the different types of startup pitch decks?
A Series A, Series B, and Series C pitch deck are presentations used by startups at different stages of their funding rounds to secure investments from venture capitalists or other investors. While the content and structure of the pitch deck may vary based on specific circumstances and business needs, they all have a common goal.
The Series A pitch deck is typically used by startups in the early stages of growth to secure their first significant round of funding after seed funding. This pitch deck focuses on demonstrating market validation, traction, and potential for growth. It highlights the startup's product, market size, target audience, business model, competitive advantage, and initial customer acquisition strategies. Although early-stage startups may not have substantial revenue or profit at this stage, the pitch deck may include financial projections, key performance indicators (KPIs), and details about how the funds raised will be utilized to drive growth.
A Series B pitch deck is used when startups have matured and are seeking additional funding to accelerate growth and scale their operations. At this stage, startups are expected to demonstrate strong growth metrics, market traction, and revenue generation potential. The pitch deck may emphasize the company's revenue projections, customer acquisition and retention strategies, expansion plans, team capabilities, and competitive landscape. The financial section of the pitch deck should provide a clear view of the startup's financial health, growth rates, burn rate, and potential profitability. It should highlight the projected return on investment for potential investors, so that they can make an informed decision.
The Series C pitch deck is reserved for more mature startups that have already achieved significant growth and are looking to introduce new offerings or expand into new markets. This pitch deck emphasizes the startup's ability to capture a larger market share, maintain a competitive advantage, and generate sustainable profitability. It may discuss international expansion plans, strategic partnerships, new product development, and customer retention strategies. At the Series C level, the pitch deck should showcase a clear path to profitability, positive cash flow, and potential exit opportunities for investors. It may include detailed financial projections, key financial metrics, and a comprehensive analysis of the company's valuation.
Slides to include in your pitch deck
When you’re excited about your offering, it can be hard to narrow down your talking points. As a result, your pitch deck can end up overwhelming the audience (which is the opposite of what you should do). A well-crafted pitch deck should be concise, visually appealing, and effectively communicate the value proposition and potential of the business. It is important to tailor the pitch deck to the specific audience and make it engaging and persuasive so that the investors leave feeling excited about what they saw.
Consider these 10 slides when building your next pitch deck.
The title slide
The title slide is critical because it sets the tone for your entire presentation and provides the first impression of your business. The “title” slide is an obvious but impactful template to use for this one because it is clean, looks professional, and allows you to include essential information like your company’s name and contact information.
The problem/opportunity slide
Every business should solve a problem or improve customers’ lives in some way. Use this slide to clearly state the problem and how your business works to fix it. You can provide statistics with Beautiful.ai’s data slide or employ the numbered list or bulleted list slide to highlight all the issues that your business exists to fix. You could also use the image slide to tell the story of how your business came to be in a visually dynamic way.
The value proposition
It is a no-brainer that you should discuss the value of your business, but common startup pitch decks overlook it! Don’t skip it. Ask yourself: What customer pain points do you fix? How do you serve your customers? What makes your business different? Use this slide to tell investors exactly why they should invest. The simplicity of our headline slide gives you the freedom to clearly state your value proposition, without crowding the slide with too much information. Want to make it visual? Add an impactful image or chart to the slide.
The underlying magic
The investors know your unique value proposition by now, but what’s the real special sauce? What can only your team bring to life? To really score here, avoid over-relying on text. Instead, use this opportunity to show what you can do. A video slide taking the audience through your process works well here, as does a flowchart slide or a prototype, mockup, or demo.
So, what is your plan? Any investor will want to know. Use a data slide, funnel slide, target slide, or hub and spoke slide to show your audience the different stages of your plan in a visually appealing way. You can also use a table slide or waterfall chart slide to demonstrate projected results and value over time.
Go-to market plan
It is essential to tell investors how you plan to attract new customers, as well as compete in your space. How will you launch your product or offering and start selling it? This shows your investors you know how to make this thing work, so use the right slide to showcase it. You can use the hub and spoke slide or process diagram slide to demonstrate the different elements of your strategy.
Let your audience know that you get what the competition is doing. Use an XY plot, line chart or area chart slide to identify your performance patterns compared to those of your competitors. This is also a great opportunity to demonstrate your achievements by highlighting companies that have had the pleasure of working with you using a logo grid slide.
Financial projections and key metrics
Be upfront: What would potential investors be getting into if they invested? Hone in on a three-year, bottom-up focused forecast. Use the data comparison slide or area chart slide to demonstrate and discuss your projected growth over the years.
Current status, accomplishments, timeline, and use of funds
The future is important, but so is the present. Use this slide to address your current business situation, what the immediate future holds, and your plans for any capital raised right now. The timeline or process slides can help you effectively communicate exciting next steps for your business. This is also a slide where you need to really think about how to condense information into what’s most important. Your investors will be at the tail-end of their 20-minute presentation, and you want to make sure you go out with a bang.
Slides you should ditch in your pitch
The actual content you'll include in your investor deck will vary slightly depending on whether it's an angel, seed round, Series A, Series B or subsequent stages of venture capitalist fundraising. But regardless of your company's end goal, it's important to avoid common pitfalls that could easily make an otherwise great pitch deck sink. Here are five slides you should ditch in your next investor pitch deck.
Don't talk about acquisition or potential buyers too early
Of course you have been testing different acquisition sources and tracking where your users are coming from. Obviously you want to demonstrate your ability to develop long-term customer acquisition strategies and highlight which channels do and don’t work, but the common mistake many presenters make is jumping into it too early. Make sure to describe the problem first and clearly outline your value proposition. If the investor is not convinced the problem is real and your solution is both feasible and timely, any customer acquisition success will seem circumstantial, and any long-term acquisition strategies you propose are unrealistic.
Don't worry about traction at the seed stage
Traction and product-market fit are two things that are often confused. Many companies have traction but very few have product-market fit. That’s because early traction can be a temporary or accidental success, often boosted by circumstances such as personal and industry connections of one of the founders.
On the other hand, if you manage to demonstrate that you’ve reached the stage of product-market fit, you’re showing that you’ve found your ideal target market and are developing the perfect solution to their problem.
To demonstrate proof of product-market fit, ask yourself the following questions (and make sure to include the answers in your presentation):
- Do your customers recommend your product to others?
- Do they bounce, and how often?
- What are the key metrics for customer success (aka conversion)?
Don't talk about financial projections without having clear comps
Many start-up founders think that they need to be aggressive in their financial projections because investors will haircut their forecast. Sure, it’s true, they will haircut your forecast. But it still has to be realistic if you want to get any funding at all. Stating that your revenue will grow from zero to $100 million in the first two years is not realistic. Be optimistic but honest. Make sure to include your upcoming expenses as well as your projected cash flow.
As a rule of thumb, many growth-stage investors (Series B and beyond) follow the “The Rule of 40” to assess the growth of fast growing start-ups. According to this rule, the company’s combined growth rate and profit margin should be at least 40%.
Don't ask for a specific sum of money
Likewise, when you ask for a specific sum of money, be realistic and be willing to explain how the money is going to be used. Include answers to these questions in your presentation (or be prepared to elaborate): How much money would you like to raise? Why this amount? What exactly will you do with it and how long will it last? Be sure to mention any upcoming hires, or tools and services that you will need for your business to grow and run smoothly.
Don't forget to mention the team
The team behind your start-up is the soul of the company. They are just as (if not more) important than your brilliant idea. A common mistake first time entrepreneurs often make is to stop after mentioning the founder and the co-founder.
Potential investors want to know not only about the founders of the company but about the team members, too. Explain what experience and skills they bring to the table, their motivation and enthusiasm, and why they’re a valuable asset to your company.
Talk about the members of your team and any anticipated additions down the road. Briefly add what each member brings to the table, to help move the vision forward and the company grow.