One of the most commonly sent out documents in the start-up/venture capital sphere is a pitch deck: a pitch of your idea in a presentation format. And if you’d like a more formal definition:

A pitch deck is a presentation that gives an overview of your business plan and concise showcasing of your company’s products, technology and team, commonly in a PowerPoint format. This presentation is normally used when pitching your business idea to potential investors, partners, co-founders and customers.

Your pitch deck can play an instrumental role in the growth of your company. It is usually the first communication tool used to get investors excited about your idea and raise money for your venture. The contents of the deck (the information, the structure and your story) can help potential investors, team members, and partners determine whether or not they are interested in the business idea. Building a great pitch deck can lead your business to the right investors, partners, team members and referrals (no pressure). Fear not, we are going to help you build the ultimate pitch deck – covering everything from the dos and don’ts to the structure.

There are a few things you can incorporate into your pitch deck to elevate it:

  1. Always include this wording at the bottom left of your pitch deck cover page: Confidential and Proprietary. Copyright © by [Name of Company]. All Rights Reserved.
  2. Tell a story and engage people emotionally. Tell a compelling, memorable and interesting story that shows your passion for the business.
  3. Use a consistent font size, colour, and header style throughout the slides.
  4. Show some metrics. Show evidence that you have more than just an idea, and that you have made some progress in developing the product, getting customers and signing up partners. You should know your metrics better than anyone.
  5. Be as concise as possible. Try to summarise each major item of the business into a single slide.
  6. Try applying Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule. This rule is taken from Guy Kawasaki’s book ‘The Art of the Start’, summarising the key information that should be included in the initial pitch deck. 10 slides, 20 minutes, and no font smaller than 30 points.
  7. Spend time reviewing other pitch decks: Have a look at these examples: Google’s Template Pitch Deck for Startups, LinkedIn’s Pitch Deck for Its Series B Round, Airbnb’s Pitch Deck for Its Angel Round
  8. Send the pitch deck in a PDF format.

Here are some things to avoid when making your pitch deck:

  1. Do not make it more than 15 to 20 slides long. Some studies show that the average VC attention span capacity is 10 slides.
  2. Do not provide excessive financial details. These details can be provided in a follow-up meeting.
  3. Avoid using too many bullet points. Too many bullet points will make it hard to recall the information you shared.
  4. Do not belittle or underestimate your competition.
  5. Avoid using small fonts. Tip: use a font size between 32 to 44 points for titles and no less than 30 points for text or bulleted items.
  6. Do not create a text-rich, picture-poor deck. More imagery will improve the aesthetics of the presentation and evoke more emotion from the audience or readers.

The structure of the pitch also plays an important role, as it facilitates your story and improves the flow of the presentation. According to Guy Kawasaki, the structure of a pitch deck should be as follows:

  1. Title. Include your business name, your name and title, and contact information.
  2. The Problem. Explain the problem at hand. The goal is to get the audience to believe what you are saying and see the actual problem.
  3. The Solution. Describe how you plan to solve the problem. It is important to ensure that the audience understands what you plan to sell and the company’s value proposition.
  4. The Business Model. Explain how you will generate income, who pays you, your channels of distribution and your gross and net margins.
  5. Technology/Product. Describe the technology or product that you are selling and what makes it different. Describe the “magic or secret sauce behind your product”
  6. Marketing and Sales. Explain how you will reach your customers and your marketing leverage points.
  7. Competition. Provide a complete overview of the competitive landscape. Remember, more information is better than less.
  8. Management Team
  9. Financial Projections and Key Metrics. Provide a three to five-year forecast containing not only the funds needed but also key metrics, such as the number of customers and the conversion rate.
  10. Current Status, Accomplishments to Date, Timeline, and Use of Funds. Give insight into the current status of your product or service. What does the near future look like and how will you use the money you are trying to raise?

Another structure commonly used for pitch decks is the following:

  1. Introduction
  2. Team
  3. Advantages
  4. Solution
  5. Product
  6. Traction
  7. Market
  8. Competition
  9. Business model
  10. Financials
  11. Investing
  12. Contact details

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on building a pitch deck that can help you reach the right people for your business. Make sure you review your deck to ensure the content flows well and there are no typos or errors. Lastly, all the best to build an ultimate pitch deck that will propel you to become the next best start-up.