The secret to creating an investment-worthy pitch deck
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Are you getting ready to scale your business and seek funding? Or are you a non-profit that needs to raise grants for a new project? Whatever your business model, every company should have a pitch deck that explains who they are and why their audience should care, and I'm going to teach you how to do exactly that.
One of the BIGGEST problem areas I come across with clients is their pitch deck. Either they don't communicate their value proposition well, or the branding isn't concise, or they don't communicate their story to engage the viewer.
This frustrates me SO MUCH because a pitch deck should communicate how amazing you are and why your brand is worthy of investment, and what usually ends up happening is a jumbled mess of slides with too many words, not enough pictures, and no clear endgoal.
A Pitch Deck is your calling card. It should tell your audience who you are, what problem you are solving, and why they want to get on your rocket ship to success.
This post is for anyone out there who is struggling to put together their pitch decks or for those smart individuals who are researching the best way to create an investment-worthy pitch deck BEFORE they need to so they can be prepared for when the time comes.
And hey, if you would rather spend your time doing ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL, I create beautiful pitch decks for startups in multiple industries that have brought my clients $XXK investments, grants and funding. *shameless plug*
Feel free to email me if you'd rather have me build out your pitch deck for you. email@example.com.
Hey, outsourcing is everything!
Step 1. Add in the right content to your pitch deck.
A pitch deck should be 10-12 slides and follow this order:
Slide 1: Intro
Slide 2: The Problem
Slide 3: Your Solution
Slide 4: Market size
Slide 5: Product Specs/Service details
Slide 6: Business Model
Slide 7: Your Competitive advantages
Slide 8: Team
Slide 9: Traction to date + go to market timeline
Slide 10: Funding ask
Slide 11: Financial projections + break even analysis
To get your started, here is a link to AirBnB's famous pitch deck.
Now let's go into each of those slides in more detail.
This will have your logo, business name, mission statement and a picture of your product. If you are a non-profit or service based solution, add a photo of your target stakeholder or ideal solution.
This slide should have a photo of a person experiencing a problem that your business can solve. You want to put a PERSON on this slide so it becomes relatable. Give them a name, age and tell a story about their current situation. You want to viewer to imagine themselves right there in that situation and empathize with that person, so that they will be more bought in to your solution.
Next to the photo, you'll include a few stats or a 1-2 line story that summarizes the problem in a clear, concise way. Your words should demonstrate the impact this problem has on society, so that your audience will see that there is a large market opportunity.
The font in a Pitch Deck should never be smaller than size 18. Your deck should have equal amounts of white space, graphics and words so that the viewer isn't reading copious amounts of content. Use less words to get the point across.
This is your slide to shine. Now that you've clearly outlined the problem and shown that it is big enough to need someone to come in and solve it, you can tell your audience HOW you are going to do just that.
Whether it's a product or a service, include a photo, what the product/service does and how it answers an existing market need.
Check out what AirBnB did:
They clearly demonstrate what their product is, how it will be used and the benefits it brings to the user to ensure that there will be traction and mass adoption. The font isn't too big, the slide is clean and colorful, and there are 3 different solution areas presented to showcase that their platform appeals to multiple user segments.
This is where that blasted TAM/SAM/SOM comes in. That stands for:
Total Available Market
Serviceable Available Market
Share of Market
Basically, this slide shows how much money is represented by the total market demand for your product, how much of that demand you can you realistically try to go after, and then, of that amount, how many clients can you actually land.
Your TAM should be the largest number and illustrate that there is a huge investment opportunity. SAM will be anywhere from 3-8% of that figure depending on your industry, market penetration, your growth + ability as a company, geographic region, etc. SOM is what you can actually service and what % of the market will actually become a client, and should be 5-15% of your SAM.
While this exercise is painful, you can't service every single person in the world, so if you want to be taken seriously, show how much of the market you can realistically get. Then, represent your market by circles to give a visual sense of what your share of the market looks like.
Product Specs/Service details
This slide is the easiest to create, and one of the most important. Here, you want to highlight what exactly your product is or does with clarity. An investor should be able to look at this slide and get your model in 10 seconds.
Test out your slide on friends and see if they can clearly articulate your product back to you after seeing it. If they can't, keep working on it until they can.
This is the nuts and bolts of how your business will make money. It should include:
Your target buyer
What channels you will use to reach them (wholesale, retail, ecommerce, etc)
How much you will charge
Commissions or fees you will take
.Any other costs associated with delivering your product to your client
You want to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that you can make a profit. If you are a non-profit, you want to clearly show that your model will create IMPACT. For non-profits, 'Target buyer' becomes target beneficiary and stakeholders, and channels + pricing remain them same.
Same advice here: Show this slide to your mom. If she can repeat your business model back to you, including HOW YOU WILL MAKE A PROFIT, you're golden. If she can't, it's back to the drawing board.
Your Competitive advantages
This slide is where you show off why you're better than the competition. Don't say that you don't have any--no one will believe you. List 3-5 competitors, their brand logos, their product/service specs, and then how you are better. Do you provide a better service? A cheaper product? Can you deliver your goods faster? Is your product a combination of multiple other offerings?
Showcase what you do better here and make your company the obvious solution.
Note: This should be laid out in an easy to read table with minimal content.
This slide is deceptively difficult to create. The purpose of this slide is to demonstrate to your audience that you are capable of running this business without burning it to the ground. That means you have to have a diverse team with different skill sets to show you are well rounded and full of expertise.
You want to start off with your founders: CEO, COO and CTO/CMO if needed. Put a picture of each and a 2-3 bullet breakdown of their relevant experience. Did they do a similar job before? Do they have education in that field? Why will they be good this role? Why should the investor trust them with their money?
Then you want to include your board of advisors. This is the exact same exercise--who are they, why are they your mentors, what experience do they bring to the table, how will they help you make smart financial decisions in the long run to scale the business/non-profit? Use pictures and bullet points to tell their story.
Be very selective with what you include here so that your team comes off as rockstars capable of bringing your company to high levels of success.
Traction to date + go to market timeline
This is a snapshot of what you have done so far, goals, milestones and success. Make this a timeline that is easy to follow, starting from when you started the business, to 1-3 years AFTER you have received funding to give the viewer a good sense of not only where you've come from, but where you're going.
Make sure to include:
When you founded the company
Your MVP (first version of your product)
Any prior fundraising
Key events/milestones (revenues, customers)
Go to market activities
When/if you got patents/accolades/awards
Past + upcoming Product launches
This is your story in a slide. Make it compelling!
This is where you ask your investors for how much money you need. If you've done a good job up to this point, this slide will feel natural in your presentation. The key is to not be scared to ask for money. This isn't a handout--it's an INVESTMENT in a successful business, and you are doing the investors a solid by letting them get in on your rocketship early!
Financial projections + break even analysis
This is the last slide, and again a very complicated one to make. Work with your finance guru to show exactly how you will make money, what your expenses will be and what your assumptions as you grow are. Here is a good resource I found for creating a financial model, but to get started, think about:
Unit economics (how much does it cost to produce 1 unit or service 1 customer)
Revenue and expense growth for three-years
When you will break even
Assumptions – Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Lifetime Value (LTV), Revenue Forecast Compensation and staffing expense and timing
Charts & Graphs of your growth
And finally, add a closing slide with your logo and mission statement.
Step 2: Design your pitch deck
What I mean by this is, make it look beautiful. Determine a color scheme, select a font style + size, think about how to place photos, and choose a tone of voice.
Do you want to be super informative? Enthusiastic? How do you want to come across to your audience?
Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva, created a 10/20/30 Rule in the Art of the Start,I which I wholeheartedly agree with. That stands for 10 slides, 20 minutes and 30 point font. Keep this in mind as you set out to create your own pitch deck.
Step 3: Script your presentation
Write an engaging script that makes your story come alive. Plan for 20-30 seconds per slide, and include personal anecdotes from your time growing your company to let the viewer know that you are qualified to take it to the next level.
Look the viewer in the eye, move a bit so you don't look stiff, and don't try to memorize every single word, just know the crucial talking points for each slide and what you are trying to sell to the audience.
Oh, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. This will not come out right on the 1st, 2nd of even 10th time, so keep repeating your script to yourself until it becomes a natural part of your vocabulary.
So to summarize, creating an investment-worthy pitch deck is much easier said than done. Once you get the layout, content, design and script completed, you will be once step closer to securing the funding you need to scale your dreams. While it won't be an easy process, it is extremely valuable in helping you understand how to position your brand to clients and how to sell yourself to future audiences.
Again, that's why I recommend hiring someone who is a pro at storytelling and speaking to investors (aka me) to create your pitch for you.
Leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts, and please reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions! I'm here to help you grow what you love and am invested in your success.