Investment Pitch Deck 101: Guide to create your first pitch deck

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So you have decided to pitch your business to an investor and now have to create your first pitch deck?

In this article, we’ll dig deep into the standard pitch deck outline most companies are using these days, and we’ll give you some guidance as to what information and in what format should be included on your document, so brace yourself and lets get started!

What exactly is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a short presentation of 10-15 slides that you use to introduce your business to potential investors. These investors can include angel investors, venture capitalists, customers, and business partners. 

Why do you need a pitch deck, won’t a business plan suffice? 

Keep in mind that pitch deck and a business plan are NOT the same thing. A business plan is a very detailed, 20 to 50-page document that lays out everything a potential investor needs to know about your company whereas a pitch deck also referred to as a slide deck or pitch presentation, is MUCH shorter.

Your pitch deck is the fastest, easiest and most effective way to present your business to investors within the limited time frame that you are given. So, make sure your pitch deck describes the compelling opportunity available to those who invest early. Proactively address the fundamental questions every investor thinks when they read or listen to your pitch:

  • What problem do you solve, and who do you solve it for?
  • Who do you compete against, and what makes you better?
  • How big is your market, and how fast is it growing?
  • How do you make money, and how big could you get?
  • How will you acquire and retain customers — profitably and at scale?
  • What makes your team the right team?
  • How much capital do you need to get from where you are now to escape velocity

In short, when the investors are reading or listening to your pitch deck they are evaluating your business/ business idea from two angles – RISK and RETURN. So, the bottom line is you must convince investors that your business/business idea is worth the risk and can deliver 5-10x revenue growth!

How do you get started then?

It’s All About The Story! 

The best pitch decks start with an engaging origin story. Many founders start a company to solve a problem that impacted them personally or to address an unmet need they experienced. So, share about your business’s ideation process, your personal experience that your audience can relate to. This way you’ll get more interest, ears and eyes!  

What slides should you include in your pitch deck?

Now let us move on to the main section of this article and of course your pitch deck, the content/slides. Remember that your pitch deck is a visual summary of your business so it is mandatory to ensure that it addresses each and every aspect of your business. 

Slide 1: THE COVER: Who you are and why you are here? 

The first slide sets the design tone for the rest of the presentation. This slide should very clearly state your company name and logo if you have one. If you don’t have a logo yet, that’s okay, make sure you still establish a “look & feel” for your presentation. Keep it short and sweet.

Slide 2: THE SUMMARY: What the audience can expect in the coming 15 to 20 mins of your presentation?

This is where you summarize the highlights of your business and investment opportunity. It is like a teaser for what’s to come, so this is where you have to hook your audience. But be mindful to not give your presentation of this slide!

Slide 3: THE PROBLEM: What problem are you trying to solve?

Describe the problem your business idea will solve or your business solves. Identify the gap present situation and the ideal situation that your business has or will bring to the market and explain why your target customer or users are frustrated with current solutions. This is where your audience sees that a problem exists!

Slide 4: THE SOLUTION: How are you going to solve the problem?

This slide is where you explain how you provide a better solution to the problem via a product or service. List the unique benefits that customers and users will attain from your venture. This is where you start building a sense of assurance among your audience.

Slide 5: THE PRODUCT/ SERVICE: How does your product or service actually work?

Slide 5 is where you show the actual usage of your product/service to overcome the problem. Now you need to make your product very tangible to investors by explaining how it works. This is where you show examples of how your product works. Keeping it simple and visual is a big yes. 

Slide 6: THE BUSINESS MODEL: How are you going to sustain your business?

Now it’s time to explain how you make money. Investors prefer active and revenue streams (revenue from products or services) to passive revenue streams (advertising or affiliate fees). So, focus on the primary revenue model rather than provide a list of potential revenue streams that may never materialize. Also, a proof that your target customers are willing to pay your price is something to include in this slide!

Slide 7: THE MARKET OPPORTUNITY: How much money will you make if you are able to capture your target market?

This is where you share numbers. Many investors like to see both a top-down and bottom-up analysis.

A top-down analysis shows the following three numbers: 

  • TAM (Total Addressable Market): All the people who could buy your product or service. 
  • SAM (Segmented Addressable Market): People who are likely to buy your current product or service, the subset of your TAM. 
  • SOM (Share of Market): Your realistic market, customers you can reasonably obtain in the next 2 to 5 years.   

A bottom-up analysis on the other hand uses a simple math to size your market opportunity, basically the number of people who could buy your product and the price they are willing to pay. 

  • Annual market opportunity = Annual customer count x average sale value

You can go top-down or bottom-up, the most important thing to show is that you have a huge potential market!

Slide 8: THE COMPETITION: Why and how your product is better than your competitors?

This slide is all about your competitors and how you are better than them. List your competitors and explain why your product is better than theirs. Bear in mind, NEVER say that you have no competitors. A market with no competitors suggests that your market doesn’t exist or is too small to pursue. 

You have two options of presenting your competition slide:

  • Gartner Magic Quadrant
  • Competitive Matrix/ Grid

Slide 9: THE GROWTH STRATEGY: How will you keep your products competitive?

This slide is where you convince investors that you can transform a competitive product for an attractive market into a substantial, sustainable business. This is where you explain how you will acquire and retain customers profitably at scale and how you will keep your product competitive. For this you will need to share three key metrics with the investors: 

  • Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) — What’s your fully loaded cost to acquire a customer? E.g., your sales and marketing expenses.
  • Lifetime Value of Customer (LTV) — How much will a customer pay you before you lose them? 
  • Payback Period — How long does it take for a customer to cover their acquisition cost?

Slide 10: THE TRACTION

This slide can make or break you. Traction speaks volumes  and this is where you offer tangible proof that customers love your product and are willing to pay for it. So, now you switch from asking investors to fund an idea to funding growth. Measure and report traction using acquisition, retention, and expansion metrics. Use them to manage your business and measure success. 

If you haven’t yet launched your product, then you have no traction to discuss. In that case, use this slide to identify significant milestones for product, hiring, and funding. Even if you don’t have traction, you should still list your traction metrics. It tells investors you understand the mechanics of your business and the levers you will need to pull to make it successful. 

Slide 11: FINANCIALS: How much money will you make in the next 3 to 5 years?

Your Financials slide presents your best-guess projection of revenue and expenses for the next three to five years. The numbers themselves aren’t that important however make sure that they are realistic. Don’t make them so small that they are uninteresting to investors and so large that they are unbelievable.

You can include cumulative EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax) and percentages like profit margins, operating expenses ratios. This saves investors from doing math in their heads. 

Slide 12: TEAM: Who are your allies in running the venture?

This another critical slide in your pitch deck which is often looked down by startups and founders. Introduce a team that clearly has the experience and expertise to transform your opportunity into a large, profitable business. Include every important member of your team and their role. A strong team boosts credibility and confidence. 

Slide 13: FUNDING: What kind of money are you looking for?

This slide is what you did all your hard work for, this is where you ask for the money you need. Make sure that you explain exactly what you will do with it because nobody would want their hard-earned money to get wasted!

Slide 14: SUMMARY:

This is your ending slide where you once again restate the highlights of your business and investment opportunity. 

Slide 15: CLOSING: How and where can the potential investors reach you?

This is the final slide where you include your name and contact details. Make sure you let people know how to reach you quickly!

Nailing your pitch deck does not always guarantee success, but it is no doubt a very powerful tool to help you get your business/ business idea taken seriously!