What is a pitch deck?
Your investment pitch deck is a piece of content that needs to capture the imagination of investors and help persuade them to put money into your early-stage or growth business. A great deck builds a compelling narrative about your vision and plans, highlights investment history and needs, and explains what makes your business the one that will win.
Before we leap into the sections of slides you should include in your pitch decks, we’re going to look at the key considerations for an awesome pitch deck.
What makes a great pitch deck?
When it comes to investment pitch decks, one size doesn’t fit all.
Before creating your pitch deck, think carefully about the audience who will be viewing it. 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. And the tone and content will differ for different audiences, for example, angel investors and more institutional investors. Just remember, this is a pitch deck, not a full business plan.
You may end up creating a master pitch deck that you then tailor a number of times to cater for the needs of different audiences and how they will receive the deck, so:
- An emailed deck should be short and snappy but have enough detail for them to fully understand the opportunity. Because you won’t be there to talk through the deck with the reader.
- A deck to be used in one-to-one presentations should be very concise so that you can flesh it out with full explanations as you go through it and answer questions.
- A deck to be used with a room full of potential investors should be somewhere in the middle – with enough detail to explain things, but with a little room for you to embellish points.
Use the right tone for your audience
Determine the correct tone of voice for your product and your audience. This doesn’t mean being dull. Let your personality shine through and demonstrate your creativity.
Keep it relatively short
The average time spent reviewing an investment deck is just 3 minutes and 44 seconds, so try and keep your deck to no more than 15-20 pages. And try to use visuals instead of pages filled with text so that it helps the reader understand the story you’re telling. Take a look at some legendary pitch decks from companies that went on to grow into giants if you could do with a little inspiration.
Sometimes founders also create a one-pager or ‘executive summary’. This really helps to capture the attention of the busiest investors.
What should a pitch deck include?
Here’s what we recommend, but the order can depend on your story and USPs.
Include your company’s name and who you are/title.
An overview/summary that outlines the company’s purpose
Start the 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?
Explain the problem/pain points your business solves
What’s broken/not working at the moment? Explain why there’s a market opportunity.
Compare the competition
Who are your biggest competitors? How do you compare?
Milestones and accomplishments
Highlight the key successes so far, including milestones and achievements, such as sales, key hires and awards.
Sell your solution
Describe how your product/service answers the problems you described earlier. Detail how your solution is different to what’s already out there. Explain any unique selling points (USPs). Why is 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 many investors.
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.
Outline your marketing strategy
By the time your potential investors get to this section of the deck, they 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 sell it and start capturing market share: How are you going to acquire users? What will be the distribution channels?
Introduce your ‘Dream Team’
Investors don’t just invest in a product, they invest in the people in your team. Highlight the team’s strengths – highlight previous successes on similar projects. Explain how passionate and dedicated the team are to making this thing succeed and soar above the rivals.
You might also want to include details of board members or significant backers.
Go through the financials and projections – if applicable
If your business is fairly mature and already has created a track record for selling to customers, display these 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?
What not to include in the deck
A non-disclosure agreement
(NDA) – Don’t be tempted to include an NDA, as you’ll 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.
Test your deck on friends and advisors
Try running through the investment pitch deck with people you trust. Do they see issues with any of it? Does it all sound reasonable and sensible to them? Have they raised any unwanted questions? And is there a way to tweak the deck so that they probably won’t come up in a pitch?
Is any part of the deck likely to be pounced upon by a sceptical potential investor? If so, address the issues.
Now, consider your first audience for the pitch deck and tailor a set especially for them and the way they’ll receive it/view it – see ‘One size does not fit all’ above.
Finally, once you’re ready to send your pitch deck to your potential investors, remember to send it as a PDF. This is so that your presentation’s ‘locked’ and can’t be revised by the recipient.
Pitch deck template
We’ve created a pitch deck template to help get you started. Feel free to tailor to your own company’s story and circumstances.
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