In the high-stakes world of startups, a pitch deck presentation is often the deciding factor for securing investment, whether in high-pressure situations like Shark Tank or pre-seed pitching rounds. With limited time to make a first impression, the quality of your pitch deck is crucial in leading to that all-important follow-up meeting with investors or VCs.
In this article, we’ll guide you through how to create a pitch deck and the ten essential slides you need. We’ll also explain what makes a good pitch deck (including examples), the 10/20/30 rule, and how to avoid common mistakes.
Success in entrepreneurship isn’t just about hard work, luck, and timing. It’s also about successfully convincing others to invest in your vision, whether you’re seeking funding, advice, mentorship, or partnerships. A great pitch deck will be your essential tool in persuading investors. Let’s get started!
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a slideshow presentation that succinctly conveys your business idea, market opportunity, and value proposition. Startup founders and entrepreneurs commonly use them to present their business ideas, products, or services, also known as a business or investor deck. It is necessary in securing funding, attracting partnerships, and closing deals.
With a concise format of 10 to 20 slides, this visual tool effectively conveys a business idea and its potential to help entrepreneurs connect with investors, clients, or partners. Suppose your pitch catches the interest of potential investors. In that case, there will likely be an in-depth next meeting (i.e., the start of the actual pitching process).
💡 The most common formats for pitch decks are PowerPoint slides, Google Slides, or Apple Keynote presentations.
Purpose of a pitch deck
The purpose of a pitch deck is to clearly and quickly communicate your business’s potential. Used in fundraising pitches, idea support, and forming strategic partnerships, it provides a visual snapshot of your business idea and its market viability.
Pitch decks are not only used by startups but also in a variety of other settings. The structure of your slides should enable potential investors to grasp your business idea’s potential quickly.
Types of pitch decks:
- Branding or marketing plan
- Film & TV
The 10-20-30 rule for slideshows
The 10-20-30 rule, coined by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, offers a structured approach to creating effective PowerPoint pitch decks. This rule is a favorite among startups but applies to all types of presentations. It includes:
- Keeping to just 10 slides.
- Limiting the presentation to 20 minutes.
- Ensuring a font size of at least 30 points.
However, sticking to 10 slides isn’t always the optimal approach for everyone. As David from NextView VC reminds us, it’s crucial to present in a manner that feels authentic to you. Treat pitch deck templates as flexible starting points, and tailor them to highlight the uniqueness of your startup.
What should be in a pitch deck
A pitch deck should concisely outline your business idea, market, strategy, finances, team, and funding needs in an engaging story. You should use between 10 and 20 slides depending on your needs and audience.
In the next section, we’ll guide you through creating each slide.
The 10 most important slides in an investor deck:
- Business overview: A brief introduction to the business, including the mission and vision.
- Problem statement: Identify the problem or need in the market the business intends to solve.
- Solution slide: The product or service offered by the business as a solution to the identified problem.
- Market size and analysis: Information about the target market and industry, including size, growth potential, and customer demographics.
- Product and business model: How the business plans to make money, including the product and pricing strategy.
- Go-to-market plan: The approach to promoting the product or service and acquiring customers.
- Competitors: A look at the competitive landscape and how the business differentiates itself from competitors.
- Financials: Financial projections and current financial status.
- Team: Information about the key team members, their roles, and their experience.
- Ask: The specific funding request and how it will be used to grow the business.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’ll move on to how to create a pitch deck.
How to create a pitch deck
We’ll take a step-by-step approach to making the essential 10 slides in a pitch deck. It will cover the most critical aspects of your business idea and pitch presentation. You may add more slides as you go, but let’s start by looking at each of these 10 slides, their purpose, and what information should be included.
Slide 1: Business overview
The first slide of your pitch deck will set the tone for the rest of the presentation. The business overview (title slide) should briefly capture the core of your idea and stand out to investors.
- Include your logo.
- title slide
- Name of your idea, business, or startup.
- Summarize your concept into a catchy headline.
Slide 2: Problem
Use this slide to lay the groundwork of your pitch by focusing on the problems or pressing needs that your business addresses. Highlight the market gap and illustrate why it’s an important opportunity.
- Present the problem your business solves in the form of a problem statement.
- Emphasize its relevance to your audience.
- Back up your points with solid data like market statistics or instances of current inefficiencies.
Slide 3: Solution
The solution (or value proposition) slide should address each problem mentioned in the previous slide. There could be many ways to solve a problem, so clarify how your solution benefits your target segment.
- The value proposition of your product or service.
- What sets it apart from competitors.
Slide 4: Market size
This slide should provide a clear picture of the market analysis and landscape based on your research. Illustrate the scale of the market you’re targeting or part of, demonstrating growth prospects and business opportunities. Key points to include:
- Break down the market opportunity into TAM, SAM, and SOM.
- Note any important market trends.
- Use visual aids like charts or graphs to effectively depict market size and trends.
Slide 5: Product & business model
Summarize your product and business model in this slide to show how you will make money, scale, and be profitable.
- Highlight your product’s main features or services.
- Add visuals like screenshots or images for clarity.
- Detail your revenue streams, cost structure, and pricing strategy.
Be ready to explain any challenges within your business model and your solutions.
Slide 6: Go-to-market strategy
The go-to-market (GTM) slide outlines your strategy for entering the market and acquiring new customers. Explain how you will distribute your product or service and reach your target audience.
- Outline each phase of your GTM strategy.
- Define your ideal customer or buyer persona and how you provide value to them.
- Explain your sales and marketing approaches to reach customers.
Having a good idea or product isn’t enough to convince investors. They need to know if you have a viable, thought-out strategy to reach and serve the target market.
Slide 7: Competitive analysis
Demonstrate your understanding of the market and the competition in this slide by providing data and market research. Offer data-driven research to map out the competitive landscape, including:
- Identification of major competitors and alternatives.
- Specify your unique selling proposition (USP) and competitive advantage.
- Strategy and positioning against competitors.
Be straightforward in this slide and reassure investors that you are aware of your competition and have a plan to achieve and maintain a competitive edge. You could mention potential challenges, risks, or disruptors.
Slide 8: Team
Many investors often consider the team behind a startup as one of the most critical factors in their decision-making process. A study done on over 21,000 startup founders suggests that the founder’s personality – or the combined personalities of the founding team – is paramount to entrepreneurial success.
- Include all founders, management, and advisors.
- Roles and responsibilities.
- Highlight key skills and relevant experience.
- Mention any meaningful connections.
The team slide has to instill confidence in potential investors that this is the right team for the job, even if you are a solo founder.
Slide 9: Financials
This is a critical slide where investors may spend the most time reading to get a glimpse into the business idea’s financial feasibility and potential return. Describe how you plan to generate revenue and your pricing strategy. Each startup will show different financial figures based on their stage.
Basic financial data:
- Income statement
- Sales forecast
- Expenses and burn rate
- Market size (Total Addressable Market, Serviceable Available Market, Serviceable Obtainable Market)
- Projected revenue growth for at least three years.
Other KPIs you may include:
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- LTV/CAC ratio (indicates how sustainable the business model is)
- Churn rate
- Customer growth
Coming up with these figures demonstrates your financial acumen and your understanding of the key metrics that drive business success.
Slide 10: Ask
The last slide should wrap up the pitch with a snapshot of your current standing, any accomplishments, a timeline, and the use of funds.
- The current state of affairs (growth, market share).
- State the amount of funding needed and how you plan to use it.
Investors want to know if your startup/idea is worth investing in, so show them evidence of progress, past successes, or the potential for future success.
What makes a good pitch deck?
A good pitch deck gets your point across to investors and captures their attention. Successful pitch decks are clear, focused, and persuasive. Many investor pitch decks follow a similar structure because they give investors a snapshot of a business’s investment potential.
These are traits of a good pitch deck:
✅ Concise and clear, without fluff or distracting details.
✅ Focused on telling the story of the startup/idea and its potential.
✅ Structured with a logical flow. Each slide supports the overall narrative.
✅ Persuasive, backed by data, research, and appropriate graphs and charts.
💡 Save time by using an AI pitch deck presentation maker like SlidesAI
Best pitch deck examples
Here are some of our favorite pitch deck presentations. The best pitch decks balance detailed information with simplicity. Take a look at these pitch deck examples across different stages of funding:
Airbnb pitch deck (Pre-seed)
LottieLab pitch deck (Seed)
Copy.AI pitch deck (Series A)
Wanderlist pitch deck (Series B)
Crunchbase pitch deck (Late stage)
💡 Check out more free pitch deck templates here.
Top 3 mistakes to avoid with your pitch deck
These common mistakes can diminish the impact of your presentation. Strive for a balance between thorough information and simplicity for maximum impact.
Mistake 1: Overemphasizing aesthetics
Overdesigning your slide deck can detract from your core message while pitching. In most cases, it is safe to leave out PowerPoint animations and excessive graphics. Use brand colors if possible; any image, graph, or chart you include should directly support your narrative.
💡 Pro tip: Maintain a consistent visual theme and leave out flashy design elements.
Mistake 2: Overloading information
It’s natural to want to share a lot of information on each slide, but doing so can make it harder for your audience to tell what’s important. VCs hear hundreds of pitches each year – you need more clarity in your pitch to catch their interest within your allocated time. Focus on the key information and overall structure of the pitch deck presentation.
💡 Pro tip: Prioritize clarity and conciseness to make a lasting impact.
Mistake 3: Lack of personalization
Pitch deck templates are a great starting point, but remember to tailor your pitch and content to your audience. Investors differ in their interests and priorities. Understanding what your audience value can significantly improve your pitch’s impact.
💡 Pro tip: Find out what resonates with your audience and include or address them in your deck.
A thoughtfully prepared pitch deck is essential for securing investment. View your pitch deck as a brief yet compelling introduction to your startup’s potential, aiming to secure further discussions and, ultimately, funding. By adhering to the 10-slide structure recommended in this article, you can effectively convey your business vision, introduce your team, emphasize your market edge, and outline your financial forecasts.
Organize your slides to ensure your business concept is easily understood. Be succinct and clear, and align your content with what investors typically seek. Steer clear of common pitfalls like cramming slides with information or not customizing your deck to align with investor interests. Wishing you success!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a pitch deck the same as a business plan?
A pitch deck and a business plan are not the same. While a pitch deck visually presents key aspects of your business idea, a business plan is a comprehensive written document that outlines all aspects of your business. A pitch deck can summarize your business plan but cannot replace it.
What happens after a successful first pitch?
Pitch deck guides often focus on the initial meeting with venture capitalists, but that’s just the start. Investment decisions involve multiple meetings, due diligence, negotiations, and paperwork. As NextView VC’s David Beisel puts it, “The purpose of all venture capital meetings is to get another meeting.” Read more about what to expect after a successful first pitch.
What about other slides, like the traction slide?
Traction slides are to showcase proof of any progress, achievements, and market acceptance. For early-stage startups, including pre-seed, traction might not necessarily mean revenue. It can be any evidence that validates your business idea and market demand, such as user sign-ups.