Why do you need a startup pitch deck?

Your startup pitch deck is your sales pitch. Its job is to capture the imagination of investors and persuade them to put their money into your early-stage or growth business.

The best investor pitch decks build a compelling narrative about a startup’s vision and plans, highlight investment history and needs, and explain what makes the business the one that will win.

Creating an investor pitch deck that will leave potential investors buzzing about your business takes time and effort. But don’t worry, you’ll find all you need to know about crafting a compelling presentation right here. You’ll learn:

  • What makes a great startup pitch deck
  • How to structure your investor pitch deck
  • Tips on great investor deck design
  • How to craft the content of your startup pitch deck
  • Finishing touches to help you stand out from the crowd

What makes a great pitch deck?

1. Never losing sight of your audience

Knowing who you’re presenting to and what they will be looking for is key to creating your investor pitch deck. For example, will they understand your market opportunity and the pain points that your product or service solves? This will determine how much detail you’ll need to go into when setting the scene.

2. Tailoring your pitch deck to your audience

One size does not fit all. If you end up creating a master investor pitch deck, it’s important to tailor it carefully to the needs of different audiences and presentation formats. Here are our top tips for different types of pitch deck:

  • Email pitch deck: these should be short and snappy but have enough detail for investors to fully understand the opportunity, because you won’t be there to talk them through it in person.
  • One-to-one pitch deck presentation: should be very concise so that you can flesh out your ideas, explain points and answer questions as you go through.
  • Pitch deck for a group of investors: should be somewhere in the middle – with enough detail to explain things, but with a little room for you to embellish points.

3. Find the right tone for your audience

Determine the correct tone of voice for your product and your audience. This doesn’t mean being dull though; let your personality shine through and demonstrate your creativity.

Tone and content can also change for different audiences – for example, you may take a different stance for angel investors vs more institutional investors.

4. Keep it relatively short

Did you know the average time investors spend reviewing a startup pitch deck is just 3 minutes and 44 seconds? So, brevity really is key. Try to keep your pitch deck to no more than 15-20 pages and use visuals instead of pages filled with text to help the reader understand the story you’re telling.

It’s also worth creating a one-pager or ‘executive summary’ to capture the attention of the busiest investors. Remember, this is a pitch, not a lecture on your full business plan.

If you need some inspiration, check out our library for examples of investor pitch decks created by companies that have raised with Seedrs.

people pitch deck

How to structure your investor pitch deck?

How you structure your startup pitch can turn the tide on how potential investors view your business.

We’ve outlined our ideal investor pitch deck structure below, but we also have an investor pitch deck template you can use, compiled from some of the standout presentations we’ve seen over the years. However, the order will depend on your story and USPs (unique selling points), so don’t be afraid to tinker with it.

Here’s our idea of what the best investor pitch deck structure looks like:

  1. Title slide
    Include your company’s name and who you are/title.
  2. An summary that outlines the company’s purpose
    Start the investor pitch deck with one or two slides that sum-up the main highlights of your business. Imagine you only have a couple of slides to tell your story and emphasise the main points you’d want to make. What is the purpose of the company?
  3. The problem your business solves
    Explain why there’s a market opportunity. What’s broken/not working at the moment? What problem are you solving?
  4. Compare the competition
    Who are your biggest competitors? How do you compare to them?
  5. Milestones and accomplishments
    Highlight your key successes so far, including milestones and achievements, such as sales, key hires and awards.
  6. Sell your solution
    Describe how your product/service answers the problem you described earlier. Detail how and why your solution is different to what’s already out there. Explain your USP. Why’s your solution better? What’s the competitive advantage?

    Think particularly carefully on these slides – they will probably be the focal point of the pitch deck for most investors.
  7. Highlight the size of the market and explain the market opportunity
    How much is the market currently worth? Use realistic numbers and don’t be tempted to inflate the market size. When you unleash your product/service, how much of the market are you likely to take with your superior offering?

    Include the total addressable market (also known as total available market or TAM) This is the revenue opportunity that’s available for a given product, service or solution. By calculating the TAM, investors can quickly understand the potential of an opportunity.

    Make sure you highlight the value of your predicted slice of the pie and validate it with as much data as you have access to.
  8. Outline your marketing strategy
    By the time you get to this, your potential investors should be excited by your product and business model. You may not be ready to roll out your product/service just yet, but it would be good to demonstrate that you’ve thought about how you plan to market it and start capturing market share. How are you going to acquire users? What distribution channels will you use?
  9. Introduce your ‘dream team’
    Investors don’t just invest in a product; they invest in you and your team. Highlight your team’s strengths; showcase previous successes on similar projects; explain how passionate and dedicated the team are to making your startup succeed and soar above your rivals.

    You might also want to include details of board members or significant backers.
  10. Go through the financials and projections – if applicable
    If your business is fairly mature and already has a track record for selling to customers, show these to investors and talk about your expected business growth. For early-stage businesses, it may be difficult to make accurate projections but be realistic.

    Either way, outline how much you are raising and how you intend to use the capital. How much will it take to get to the various milestones along your anticipated roadmap?

Finally, don’t be tempted to include an NDA, as you’ll most likely end up irritating potential investors. Worse still, you may even attract ridicule that will detract from your pitch. Besides, the chances of someone stealing your idea are slim as it’s all about execution.

pitch deck picture

Tips on great investor pitch deck design

Design is key to your investor pitch deck. Not only does a well-designed pitch deck hold people’s attention for longer – enticing, alluring, and bringing the audience into your story – it also creates an automatic air of authority.

Importantly, the bar for investor pitch deck design isn’t particularly high – you don’t need a team of designers to labour for months through hundreds of revisions. Rather, a simple, clean, aesthetically consistent design can be as effective as a creative pitch deck with custom hand-drawn illustrations ¬– depending, of course, on your business and target market. For the best chance of success, follow these simple design principles:

  • Be consistent with your branding
    Investors will review hundreds, if not thousands, of startup pitch decks a year. Trying to stand out from the crowd with your branding with an over-the-top display typically backfires.

    Where branding comes into its own is when investors see multiple materials, either at different times (turning you down at seed but interested at Series A), or on documents they request from you, all following a consistent brand style.
  • Choose the right font
    A font can have the same impact as your brand in terms of how investors perceive your startup pitch deck. Sans serif fonts are the cleanest, but are not always easy to read from far away or in smaller sizes.

    Font size needs to be large, larger than you think. Having your titles (36pt at a minimum), then subheaders, body, and captions following in consistently decreasing sizes establishes an easily perceptible information hierarchy.

    Finally, keep the length of your lines short to allow information to be read and processed quickly.
  • Keep slide titles clear and simple
    Don’t try to cram everything into the slide title. Keep them clear and to the point. If your investor pitch deck is going to be read, then a simple informational hierarchy will go a long way to making things clearer for your readers.
  • Vary the slide layout
    A simple way to increase engagement and retain investors’ attention is to get creative with the layout of your slides. It will help you visually distinguish ideas and concepts throughout your investor pitch deck.

    This is not to say that all slides have to be completely original in their layout or form, but using graphics and icons, along with arrows and imaginative arrangements, injects some excitement into your startup pitch deck design.

Tips on great investor pitch deck content

Much like design, there is an art to good pitch deck content. Being able to succinctly explain ideas and concepts while also trying to convince someone to invest in your business is no easy thing.

Here are our top tips to help you craft fantastic investor pitch deck content:

  • One idea per slide
    A single idea is the easiest to express, and the easiest to understand. Having multiple ideas on one slide can lead to misunderstanding and communication problems.
  • Create a story
    What are you doing and why are you doing it? What makes you get up every morning and strive to develop this company? You have a story to tell and your investor pitch deck should reflect that, especially at the early stages.

    A startup story is always more compelling with evidence and data. Market research, independent studies and surveys help you paint the picture of your company and what you are trying to achieve.
  • Engage investors’ emotions
    Make your potential investors feel something. Paint a picture of the dream you have for your company’s future and how they can be a part of it. Personal stories help bring your mission home to potential investors and help them connect with your business.
  • Show don’t tell
    Bullet points are good, headlines are better, images and graphics are best. Choose the evidence you show carefully. For example, simply telling investors that your product is good versus showing honest customer reviews declaring their love for the product.

Putting the finishing touches to your investor pitch deck

Once you’ve finished your startup pitch deck, run through it with people you trust. Ask them if they can see issues with it and check whether it all sounds reasonable and sensible to them.

If any part of the pitch deck is likely to be pounced upon by a sceptical potential investor, tweak your presentation accordingly.

Don’t forget to ensure your investor pitch deck is tailored specifically to your audience and the way they’ll receive it/view it.

Finally, always send your pitch deck to potential investors as a PDF, so that it’s ‘locked’ and can’t be revised by the recipient.

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