You’ve decided to launch a startup — congrats! There’s so much a founder needs to do while building a promising business idea into a scalable company.
One item that’s certain to appear on your to-do list is creating your first pitch deck.
Over time, founders refine, adapt, and build multiple versions of their startup’s pitch deck, depending on the audience receiving the pitch and the stage of the startup’s development.
Do I really need a pitch deck?
Yes! Founders of a startup company need a presentation to show investors, team members, and potential business partners an overview of the company’s business plan.
Your pitch presentation can help persuade that important person —an investor, potential partner, or client — to ask for a meeting with you and your company to learn more about your products or services. Your job is to spark interest in your company and make the audience want to learn more about your value proposition.
Your pitch deck should address the key points of your business plan, the products and services you provide, high-level financial projections, market pathways, and funding needs. It needs to work on its own as a visual document, but you’ll be using it as an aid to tell the story of your business.
A compelling pitch deck gets investors excited about your idea. You’re looking to engage them in a conversation about your business that’ll hopefully lead to an investment.
You’ll find online many examples of pitch decks successful startups have used. Learn from others as you begin to develop your first baseline version.
Here are the 10 slides you need in your pitch deck.
When a startup is trying to launch in a specific market, a basic pitch deck helps you present your vision and opportunity. So let’s talk about the 10 slides you’ll need in your first startup pitch deck.
1. State your startup’s vision and value proposition. Write a one-sentence overview of your business and the value you provide to your customers. If it helps, pretend you are explaining your startup to relatives at Thanksgiving or writing a 140-character Tweet for Twitter. Keep it short and in plain English.
Tip: When stating your value proposition, stress your product’s benefits, not its features. Save the details about features for later.
2. Describe the problem you’re trying to solve. Talk about who has the problem. You can talk about the current solutions available but save those details on the competitive landscape for later.
Tip: At this early point in a pitch, founders usually share a relatable story that inspired them to launch a startup to solve the problem. Remember, you’re trying to help your audience understand your business and goal. Keep it short and sweet.
3. Outline your target market and opportunity. To understand the total market size, investors want to know how much customers spend in your market. Describing your ideal customer allows you to share details about the total market size and how you plan to position your company in the market.
Tip: Investors will want to see that you have a specific, attainable market. Keep your pitch believable with realistic data. This slide also helps you tell more about the scope and scale of the problem you are solving.
4. Describe your solution. At this point, you show how customers could use your product to solve the problems you outlined on slide two. Why wait until slide 4? You must first capture the listener’s attention and make them care about the solution.
Tip: Stay focused on your targeted customers and the problems they face. Use images rather than dense blocks of text to show rather than tell your audience about your solution.
5. Talk about your revenue model. How will your startup make money? Will you sell directly to the public in a direct-to-consumer model? Or is your business model selling products and services directly to enterprises in a business-to-business or B2B model?
Tip: Use this slide to discuss your competition and pricing models. Will your offering be broad and budget-based or a niche product with premium pricing? Explain how your product is different and why customers will choose your company.
6. Discuss your market roadmap and milestones for selling your products. Show any traction you may already have for your product. Investors will want to know if anyone is willing to buy your offering.
Tip: If you are pre-revenue, you can demonstrate traction with the number of pre-orders or length of your waiting list once your offering launches. If you don’t have a waiting list yet, create one on your website and use the sign-up as a powerful call to action in your marketing.
7. Reveal your marketing and sales strategy next. Detail the ways you will get your product in front of prospective customers. The first chief marketing officer of any successful startup is always the company’s founder. Show your audience you know how to sell what you’re making.
Tip: If your marketing and sales process is markedly different than your competitors, highlight that on this slide.
8. Share why your team is best suited to building your startup. Highlight your team members, their successes at other companies, and their expertise.
Tip: If you plan on hiring specific talent types to round out your team, identify your strategy for filling these important positions.
9. Discuss your startup’s financials. Investors will expect to see your financial plans. Talk about your sales forecast, expected income, and cash flow forecast for at least three years. Be prepared to discuss your planning assumptions and expenses.
Tip: Don’t overload the slide with spreadsheets. Keep the data visually digestible with charts that show sales, total customers, total expenses, and profits.
10. Make your request or “ask” on your last slide. Outline how much you’re asking and what you’ll do with the investment.
Tip: Investors need to know that you’ll be a good steward of their money. Explain how their investment will help you achieve your startup’s goals.
What if I need more help?
Keep your pitch deck as concise as possible. Your objective is to tell a compelling story, build interest in your startup’s journey, and get a follow-up meeting for investors to learn more about you, your team, and your company.
Your first pitch deck won’t be your last. Over time, you’ll need to create different versions of your pitch deck, depending on the situation and stage of your startup.
If you are an early-stage founder and are looking for a community of like-minded entrepreneurial people, consider joining a startup community that offers co-working spaces, supportive programs teaching the basics of startup life, and opportunities to connect with other founders of varying experience levels.
Sign up for one of our free pitch deck workshops to learn the basics and get feedback on your draft deck. Our next pitch deck workshop is on Nov. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Geekdom.
The featured image shows Braustin Homes employee Jon Wondra working on a pitch deck at Geekdom, photo courtesy Geekdom.