The Ultimate Pitch Deck Template for Your Startup!

Prerequisite to read: "Role of a Pitch Deck in Fundraising!"

In terms of fundraising, what really wins the investment deals is, how succinctly founders pitch their story, showcase their vision, and exhibit their deep passion to solve a big problem, faced by many.

It's imperative that any pitch deck must include the below 3 key elements:

  1. Your Startup's Unique Story: What problem you're solving, how big is this problem, why your solution is the best amongst the existing ones, and why yours is the best team to execute it. Storytelling helps you to instantly build an emotional connection with the targeted investors, so they can easily understand and relate to it.

  2. Compelling design: Professionally designed slide visually depicting an individual aspect of your startup.

  3. Easy to act upon: Show the investors, how great could this investment be for them and include FoMo (Fear of Missing Out), and Why Now is the best time to execute it?

A pitch deck is like a evergreen work of art. The deck tells a story, which is informed by the questions and feedback learned during the fundraising journey. Constant tweaks to the story, the messaging, and the data being presented can make a huge difference in the outcome - Gale Wilkinson, Vitalize VC

Let's start incorporating all the above points in a pitch deck, for you!

To help you further:

  • I've included the flow, that investors would usually take during the pitching.

  • Context and tip/s for each of the slides.

  • And, have used examples from the pitch decks of several unicorns, to help you with ideas on how to present it, in a compelling way to your own targeted investors.

The Ultimate Pitch Deck Template

This is an enhanced version of Sequoia Capital Pitch Deck (download PDF), which the founders of Airbnb used to create their legendary "Airbnb pitch deck" in 2009, and successfully raised $600,000 in seed round.

So, here are 10 slides of a pitch deck, for you:

a. Investor/s: Tell us about your startup?

Slide 1: Company Purpose

  • Define your startup's purpose in a single declarative sentence i.e. why is it, in that particular business?

  • You may even define the vision/overview of your business and the value that you provide to your customers.

  • Remember you just have 10 seconds to capture your audience’s attention. So, use a big, bold, or an awesome statement!

E.g. Airbnb: "Book rooms with locals, rather than hotels!"

b. Investor/s: Ok, what problem/pain are you solving?

Slide 2: Problem

  • The problem/pain you're solving and for whom (target audience)?

  • Is this really a BIG problem/pain waiting to be solved?

  • Describe the problem/gap prevailing in the market or any prevailing unmet need?

  • Why the existing players have failed to effectively resolve/address it?

Tip: This pain/problem should be relatable to your potential investors (they either know about it or have experienced it), else they won't be interested to hear any further.

E.g. Gleamr: Gleamr is the mobile, auto concierge service for those who want to enjoy some of life's little luxuries - in a convenient and safe way. It's problem slide, artistically touches upon the real pain of both stakeholders i.e. Busy Consumers, and Mobile Auto dealers.

c. Investor/s: And, how are you proposing to solve it?

Slide 3: Solution

  • Explain how you're solving this problem/pain in a crisp and concise manner, and what is it's compelling value proposition or benefits?

  • What makes your solution so special (e.g. most cost efficient, fastest, etc.?) and why would the customers/users buy it?

  • If you're at the MVP/pre-revenue stage, showcase the adoption in terms of early users.

Tip: The solution must be easily scalable!

E.g. Mint: Mint provides a free personal finance service in which users could track their spending, and find ways to save money. In this particular slide, Mint provides a compelling solution (its service) differentiating itself from existing solutions, in various aspects i.e. Ease of Use, Costs, and Benefits/value to its users.

d. Investor/s: But, how is it relevant today?

Slide 4: Why Now?

  • What’s going on in the world that makes your business/idea relevant today?

  • Founders must clearly show how will their solution uniquely address this urgent problem/pain, in the context of COVID-19 economy?

  • Explain with supporting data that this is a very timely and present issue?

E.g. Emerging Edtech Market in India, post Covid-19!

e. Investor/s: So, how can your product/service help?

Slide 5: Product/Service

  • Time to reveal your product or service using screenshots or 30-sec video

  • Illustrate using use cases i.e. how your product or service offers a compelling value proposition (benefits) for its targeted users/customers.

  • Demonstrate, why are/would customers buy from you?

  • Highlight customer's love (or reviews).

E.g. Airbnb: 3-step process i.e. Search by City; Review Listings; Book It!

f. Investor/s: Got it, and how big is this market? Investors don't bet on small or niche markets!

Slide 6: Market Potential

  • What’s the market size i.e. how big is this opportunity?

  • How much money you could make if you dominate your market.

  • Demonstrate your Total Available Market (TAM), Serviceable Available Market (SAM), and Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM), forecasting growth and ROI potential for the Investors. Check out this picture, for this explanation.

E.g. Square: Square combines software with hardware to enable sellers/merchants to turn mobile devices and computing devices into payments and point-of-sale solutions. It's evident from it's Market slide that its founders had absolute clarity on the overall market growth, they also knew intrinsic details about their target market, it's positioning as well as their unfair advantages. No wonder, they successfully raised $100 million in the Series A round.

g. Investor/s: Hmm, but, "how will you make money?"

Slide 7: Business Model

  • How will you make money from this product/service/idea?

  • Pick a revenue model, and show a plan specifying: a. How will you make money (sales and distribution model)? and b. What will be your key revenue streams, pricing strategy (flat fees or percentage commission)?

Tip: Investors only invest in startups, where the returns expected are multi-fold.

E.g. Airbnb: Simple, "We take a 10% commission on each transaction."

Based on their anticipated market share, they also projected their anticipated revenues!

One of the most overused phrases used by Investors and not without any reason is, "Not a bad idea, come back when you have more traction."

h. Investor/s: But, is your idea really working?

Slide 8: Traction

  • Traction means having a few paying customers onboard and it's undoubtedly the best way to convince the investors that your business model is working.

  • Both MVP and Traction confers credibility and safety to the investment.

Tip: Traction can also be in the form of a timeline of milestones you've achieved so far.

Ignore this slide if you're still at the pre-revenue stage, instead use the Solution slide to showcase the early adoption of users.

E.g. Gleamr: Gleamr's revenues highlighted exponential month-on-month growth, but even talked about their customer love as well as much higher lifetime value of 5X!

i. Investor/s: That's good, and who are your competitors?

Slide 9: Competitors

  • List out your key competitors (direct and potential ones), and why your product/service is unique/better than them.

  • What is your unfair advantage/s that will help you to dominate this market, for the next 10-15 years.

  • Graphically display competition in chart (matrix, feature comparison etc.) [Example]

Tip: Never say that "we've no competition or our solution is unique in the world.” You will be off the investors' radar if you make such rookie mistakes. Every product, idea, or market has competition and/or is susceptible to new potential entrants. Google too wasn't the first search engine to enter the market.

E.g. Mint: Mint not only talked about its key competitor but even the potential entrants. And, in the same, they also illustrated their competitive advantages as well as long-term defensibility against the competition.

j. Investor/s: Now show me the team i.e. people behind this startup?

Slide 10: Team

  • Illustrate, why this team is the best fit/perfect to execute this idea?

  • Headshots of the team members with name, position along with 1-3 bullet points highlighting their career and relative experience.

  • Depict, how each (foundation and management) team member has the relevant expertise and complementary skills to effectively scale-up the startup.

  • Fill in all missing links or gaps, by getting relevant advisors or mentors onboard.

E.g. Buffer: Take a look at Buffer's Team slide, clearly highlighting the complementary skills of both co-founders, they already secured seed funding from few investors to prove that they are better funding option, but succeeded to get both Guy Kawasaki and Hiten Shah onboard!

k. Investor/s: And, how will you target or reach your next 100/1000 customers?

Slide 11: Go to Market Strategy

  • Include a detailed KPI driven strategy on how you plan to market and sell your product or service?

  • What marketing channels will you use, and their RoI?

  • How will you track and monitor your key KPIs i.e., Customer Acquisition Costs and Customer Lifetime Value, etc.

This should be enough to indicate that you've done your homework, well and really know how to build an enduring and profitable business.

Tip: Even the best of technology, products, or service will fail if people aren’t aware of it.

E.g. Airbnb: The slide brings complete clarity on the founders' part about their intention to swiftly scale-up their growth prospects by using events, existing/new partnerships, while also smartly using a simple hack technique to bring most traffic from Craigslist.

l. Investor/s: Great, show me your projections, how much you need and where will you use it?

Slide 12: Projections and Road-map

  • Show ambitious financial projections or metrics that you intend to achieve in the next 3-5 years.

  • Showcase your expected traction growth (achieving X percentage of market share) and don't forget to highlight your break-even point.

  • Define how much investments you need and how you intend to use it, by highlighting various milestones you want to achieve with the new funding!

  • Some founders also incorporate an exit strategy or IRR for the investors.

E.g. Square: The founders of Square explained it, in the best and most impactful way.

Finally, few investors really demand to go through the summary slide, to pre-empt if you are worth their time. Hence, you can also keep a summary slide handy. Here's a great example:

Hopefully, this should help you in crafting a compelling pitch deck for your startup!

Resource: How to craft a memorable elevator pitch for your startup?



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