How do you create a winning pitch deck to raise funds?

Introduction

Know your audience, think like an investor

To raise funds for your startup, you need to think like an investor. A good pitch deck is vital in presenting your startup to investors. So, how do you create a winning pitch deck?

Your opening: who are you?

This is the first slide of your deck. It needs to captivate and excite your audience instantly. For this reason, you need to work on a short one-sentence punch line that explains what your project is. Think of it like a classic tweet, no more than 140 characters. If you need help, feel free to read our other article: From Idea to Product-Market Fit.

Winning pitch deck — Opening

Your why: what problem are you solving?

Second slide! The Why! Why are you building this company? What is the problem, so significant to people, that it requires you to fix it?

Winning pitch deck — Why

Your opportunity: how big is the market your company is targeting?

Now that you have described the problem, your audience is understanding the gravity of the situation. The next step is to describe the number of people affected by the issue, which will change the perspective to a business angle.

Winning pitch deck — Opportunity

Your competition: how competitive is the environment where your business operates?

At this stage, you want to talk about the competition that is trying to solve this problem with their own solutions. Who is already eating a slice of this market? Investors want is a market with healthy competition. And you want to demonstrate that you have a competitive advantage over this market.

Winning pitch deck — Competition

Your solution: what product is your company building?

In this slide, you want to showcase your solution to the problem you presented earlier. By doing so, you want to check a few boxes:

  • How is your solution better than the competition? What is your competitive advantage? (if you haven’t already showcased that in the previous slides)
  • Why nobody else can build this solution but your team?
  • Why is now an ideal time to build this solution? Is there a core requirement that is now possible, thanks to new technologies, that was not possible earlier?
  • Explain if your solution is an improvement over previous solutions or a brand new disruption to the market. Some investors prefer disruption: the risk is higher, but also the rewards. But others might want to take a low-risk approach. Be sure to know your audience.
Winning pitch deck — Solution

Your business model: how will your company generate revenue with the product?

Finding a business model that fits within your solution can present a challenge.

Winning pitch deck — Business Model

Your traction: how many users are lining up to use your product?

In this slide, you want to show the investors that you are on the right track to product-market fit. You want to show that customers are happy to pay for your solution.

Winning pitch deck — Traction

Your strategy: how will your company grow to the next level?

In this slide, you want to demonstrate that you know what you are doing to the investors. You want to show that you have a clear strategy, a clear plan to get your first customers, and beyond.

  • Layout a detailed timeline.
  • Which key channels are you going to use (for instance: paid search, social media, email marketing).
  • What are the acquisition cost per user and potential total returns per user based on your sales and retention rate.
Winning pitch deck — Strategy

Your team: who is making the magic happen?

The team slide is vital to the investors who are going to take a bet on the company. A typical investor will usually place more hope on the people than on the product. As experience shows, companies often pivot and revise their product, which means previous slides on your solution may no longer be relevant. However, the team will stay, if they are passionate about the problem the company is set to solve. With a dedicated, skilled, and motivated team, the company is more likely to succeed and be able to adapt to the challenges it faces.

  • Keep the background of each member brief and relevant to the problem and your solution.
  • Show why your team is the best team to do the job.
  • Investors put more faith into members if they are working full time for the company, including yourself.
  • When there is a talent gap in your team, use a placeholder to show that you are actively looking to hire for this role. It also shows that you are aware of your own weaknesses which in turn shows professionalism.
Winning pitch deck — Team

Your Demand: what are you seeking from the investors?

The purpose of this pitch deck is to raise funds, so here is the moment to do so. Now that you have the investors’ attention, it is time to ask for what you need. Remember to think like an investor, you want to position your business as a great investment that will generate great returns. Great returns mean low risk and high reward. With the previous slides, you have hopefully demonstrated those aspects to your audience.

Winning pitch deck - Demand

Your personal touch: how to customize your pitch deck for your own company, problem, and solution?

So far we have 10 slides and those are the foundation that is required for most companies but each startup is different. You have your own dream, goals, and values you want to highlight during your pitch presentation. This section discusses extra slides you can add to your presentation based on your company, your product, and what you want to emphasize in your presentation to show your company’s value. You can add those slides directly in the flow of the presentation. Another option is to add those slides as an addendum in case one investor asks a question. This will show them that you are prepared to answer and anticipate the needs.

  • If you already have well-known customers, have a slide with the logos of your current customers.
  • Especially for B2C companies, you can show screenshots of your product if you have a working prototype or wireframes.
  • If your company relies heavily on technology and your audience is composed of technical experts, you can explain your tech stack. Most of the time, this slide should be at the end of your presentation to answer questions, but avoid incorporating it into the main presentation as to not bore the non-technical audience.
  • If there have been news articles or research papers explaining how the market has drastically changed, you can dedicate a slide to answer the “why now” question. This slide would show the evolution of the market and the recent trends.
  • If you already have board members and some who are famous or have a positive reputation in your industry, you can build a dedicated slide to present your board. You can usually insert this slide right after the team slide. If you have a board, but no famous personalities, you can just include this slide at the end of the deck for questions.
  • Furthermore, it can be beneficial to include a slide that presents your exit strategy and timeline, depending on which investment fund you are presenting to. Be careful to make sure your vision aligns with the long-term plans of the investment fund listening to your presentation.

Your success: how to recognize signs that your pitch worked?

So you now have your completed pitch deck. In the next section, we will discuss a few general tips, but first, we should spend some time discussing the signs that you have an effective speech.

Some extra notes

We are close to the end of this article. Here are some general advice that wouldn’t fit in one specific section:

  • Consistency in design (font, font size, spacing, color scheme, etc…) across all slides is extremely important as it shows the quality of work you can produce. Investors want to invest in someone reliable, consistent, and accountable.
  • Additionally, ensure that all the numbers have units, all charts have a legend and a title to demonstrate your professionalism.
  • Make sure that each slide has a page number so investors can easily ask specific questions about a section of your presentation.
  • As you meet more investors and refine your pitch, include more slides at the end as an addendum to address their common questions.
  • Send your pitch deck as a PDF to the investors after your meeting. Also, share a read-only link to the live document that you are going to keep up to date so they can keep track of your progress.
  • And most importantly of all: tell a compelling coherent story!

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this article until the end. I hope you now feel better equipped to raise funds and build your dream company.

  1. Why
  2. Opportunity
  3. Competition
  4. Solution
  5. Business model
  6. Traction
  7. Strategy
  8. Team
  9. Demand

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PURE LAMBDA provides expert advice to help startups reach a higher level of engineering excellence and business success.

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PURE LAMBDA

PURE LAMBDA provides expert advice to help startups reach a higher level of engineering excellence and business success.