An in-depth guide on what investors want to see in a pitch deck with examples.

If you’re raising money for your startup, having an amazing pitch deck is a major component for fundraising. A great pitch deck can make a potential investor interested in your ideas and engage them in a conversation about your company, hopefully leading towards them offering to bankroll it. 

For this guide, we’ll be going over what should be included in your pitch deck to properly excite the investors. 

Several authors, venture capitalist, and start founders have built their version of what they consider important elements to successful pitching presentations. 

We’ve found that the following format works best for most companies and is more likely to cause interest from potential investors.

Reason for making this pitch deck

When making a pitch deck the reason for its creation shouldn’t be to raise money. While this may sound like strange advice, the real reason why you are making a pitch deck is to get to the next meeting. You need to keep in mind that your pitch deck and the presentation for it will most likely be the first thing an investor is seeing to learn about your company. 

Furthermore, because investments rarely conducted after a single meeting. The main objective here is to stir interest in your business. You want the investors to ask for more once they’ve heard your pitch and not turn you away.

The main reason behind a deck is to get to the next part, which is getting another meeting and a request for further details.

Slides to include in your pitch deck

Here’s where we reveal what investors want to see on your pitch deck.

The Problem

The slide covering the problem should be used to explain what gap you are trying to fill in the market. This part needs to be a problem that people can generally relate to and that investors would not have trouble understanding and sympathizing with. Additionally, you are only resolving a single problem. Not multiple ones. You need to come across as someone prepared to resolve this situation. 

Just keep in mind, don’t spend to much time on the competitive landscape for this slide, you’ll be able to do that on a later slide. If possible, try and tell a relatable story when you are explaining the problem. The more you can make the problem as authentic as possible, the more your investors will come to understand the business and its goals.

Airbnb pitch deck reveals the problem they were trying to solve with their business.

Keep in mind when investors decide to get involved with your venture it’s likely because of one of the following reasons:

  1. They have experienced similar issues in the past.
  2. There is a clear sense of ROI in the future for them
  3. Their professional expertise makes them understand the issue. 

The solution

The solution needs to be done concisely and clearly. Especially if the startup your pitching is tech-related, your solution needs to be scalable. Scalability is the function of the system to increase its total output under an increased load when resources ad included. This is what investors want to see. A company in which they can invest so the wheels can run quicker.

Furthermore, it does make sense on the solution slide to outline why it makes sense. As you may have become aware, timing is vital in the business world and being at the right time in history is what matters the most. Being too early or too late to the market has to lead to failure for most startups. Make sure to avoid any statements such as you being the only one doing this, you being the leader and so on. Many other entrepreneurs have already come up with this idea before you and other companies that may be tackling the same problem with their approach.

Airbnb shows a clear example of how they decide to solve this issue for travelers who were struggling to find themselves a place to stay.

The Market

This slide should be used to expand on who your ideal customer is and how many of them exist. What is the total market size and how do you position your business in the market? If you can gather the data, investors will want to know how much people or companies currently spend in the market to get an idea of the total market size. This is the part where you tell the story about the scope and scale of the problem you are trying to resolve.

If it fits properly for your business, you’ll want to divide your market into segments that you will address with various kinds of marketing and perhaps a variety of product offerings.

You need to be careful with this slide, though. The temptation to try and define your market to be massive as possible will linger in the back of your head. Investors will want to see that you have a very specific and reachable market. The more detailed you are about it, the more real the pitch will feel. 

Product

This slide will be all about showcasing screenshots of your product in action. To make it stronger you may wish to include some description about the product itself and some quotes from any existing clients commenting about how much enjoy the product.

Airbnb perfectly shows off their available listing from various cities. 

While this one shows a listing of homes and a review system with their price tags.

Lastly, the booking page, where people will be able to reserve the date they wish to stay at their chosen location. At the bottom, there’s a comment section for people who’ve stayed and left a review on how the experience went for them.

Business model

Now that you’ve described the product or service your offering, you need to discuss how to make money. What do you charge and who pays the bills? For some business, advertisers are paying the bills instead of users, so it’s critical to elaborate on the details.

It’s also possible to reference the competitive landscape here and talk about how your pricing fits into the larger market. Is the business a premium, high-price offering, or a budget offering that undercuts the current solutions on the market?

Airbnb shows how their business model works, with them taking 10% commision on each transaction.

Traction

This slide should be used to show the month over month growth of the business. If you already have any sale or early adopters using the product, talk about them here. 

Investors will want to know that you have proof to back up the claims of your business model as that reduces risk, so any proof you have that validates that your solution does work to solve the issues you have discovered is incredibly powerful.

Another thing you can touch on this slide is your milestones. What major goals have you managed to achieve so far and what are the major next steps you plan onwards? A product or company roadmap that outlines important milestones can help here. 

If you are still in the early stage or your growth is not that interesting, it would be advisable to avoid including this part. To give you an idea, accelerator programs such as Y Combiner expect a minimal amount of 15% month over month growth. 

Marketing Strategy

Explain how you are planning to attract customers attention and what will your sales process look like. This slide should be used to outline your marketing plans. 

You’ll want to detail the key strategies that you intend to use to get the product in front of prospective customers. 

Finding and winning over customers can sometimes be the most difficult challenge for a startup, so it’s important to show that you have a solid hold on how you will reach your target market and what sales channel you are planning to use. 

If your marketing process is different than your competitors, you should highlight it on this part.

Airbnb shows how they plan to have people adopt their platform as their choice of booking room during their travels.

Financials

Generally, you want to shoot for at least a three-year projection. Some investors may even ask for five years of projection but in my experience, these investors tend to be less skilled. 

This slide is the most important one in your pitch deck. When you first meet with a potential investor, they will ask for your pitch deck. 

During the next meeting, they will ask you where things are currently and then they will make a decision. With this in mind, it’s always a great idea to be more on the conservative side and over-deliver. 

The worst thing that could happen is for you to miss out on the benchmark and underperform. But, for your pitch deck, you shouldn’t go in-depth with a spreadsheet that will be difficult to read and understand in a presentation format. 

Limit yourself to charts and show sales, total customers, total expenses and profits.

Competition

Every business has competition in the market. Even if you are opening up an entirely new market, your potential customers are possibly using an alternative solution to help them with their problems. 

Here you should describe your fit into the competitive landscape and how you’re different than the competitors and alternative that are currently available to the market. 

What main advantages do you have over the competition or is there some “secret technique” that you have and others don’t?

The main idea here is to explain how you are different than other players on the market and why customers will choose you instead of the other competitors on the market. 

Team

The team is another important slide that needs to be added on any pitch deck. The investors want to be aware of who is in charge of the bus and what makes them unique to execute on that mission and vision. 

The best way to showcase the team slide is by simply describing the members of the leadership team (Ideally co-founders). List in bullet points that have been a few achievements from each member and the key expertise that they bring to the table. 

Even if you don’t have a full team at the moment, identify the key position that you still need to fill in and why those positions are vital for the company growth. 

Investment

Lastly, it’s time to ask for the money. You need to explain why you need the amount of money you are asking for and how you plan on using this money. Investors will want to be aware of how their money is being used and how it’s going to help you achieve the goals you are setting out for your company.

Here’s an example:

Q: How much do you need for validation of your business model?

A: We are requesting $200,000 at $1,000,000 pre-money valuation to fund our business strategy and product roadmap. This will allow us to have 18 months of runaway to repeat and scale our business model.

Q: What are you going to spend it on?

A: We are spending the first 100k on hiring one back-end developer and a customer success person. This team should help us get to problem-solution fit and help us validate our acquisition channels.

For those of you who already have some investors on board, this is the time when you should be talking about those other investors and why those decide to invest.

Conclusion

There you have an in-depth guide to help you properly build a pitch deck for your upcoming investment meeting. If you are serious about your pitch deck it’s not a bad idea to ask someone with a greater understanding of sales analysis to take a look at your deck.

Some tweaks to images, placement, and words can make a huge difference when pitching your business.