A pitch deck is a brief presentation, consisting of set of visual slides (in PowerPoint, for example), used during…well, pitches, most often to potential investors. It is an overview of your business, covering all aspects while remaining concise. This is an elevator pitch with visuals…if the elevator was hand-cranked and going to the top of a skyscraper.
Your pitch deck will need to be tweaked depending on to whom it is being delivered, but here we will outline the basics that you need to include.
A fairly obvious one, really. While most of the slides suggested here can be rearranged however you feel is best, it is usually good practice to do the introduction at the start. This should be short and simple: who are you, what are you, and why are you there.
What is the problem that your product is going to solve? Why is it a problem, and to whom? This could be a good opportunity for one of those stories – as any half-decent storyteller will tell you: show, don’t tell. With any luck, the problem that you are tackling is something that in some way affects your audience, allowing you to engage them even more.
This is your product, obviously. If it isn’t, then you’re doing something wrong. What is your product? How is it going to solve the problem? Why is it the solution that we all want to turn to? This is the first time you’ll show and discuss the actual product, so make sure it impresses. You’ve shown them the villain with slide 2, so now reveal their hero!
Yes, the solution is the product, but you may want to give more information about how the product (or service) works. You may have highly relevant examples. This could be another story opportunity – although just remember that you’re pitching a business, not trying to sell your memoirs. Too much storytelling might get annoying.
You’ll probably have an MVP or at least beta stage users or customers to demonstrate your product’s potential and viability. If you have an MVP in the market, you may already have decent sales figures and revenue to show for it. Investors aren’t going to put money into your business if they think it won’t be profitable; showing traction will go a long way to showing that it will be.
Demonstrate that there is a market for your product, and what size it is. Remember, no exaggerating facts and figures. Telling your audience that your product is something everyone will want, so your market is about 7 billion people, won’t go down too well. If for whatever reason you don’t know the size of the market and have to predict it, make sure you do so on very solid reasoning – they will ask.
You might be the face of the business and product, but there is (probably) a team behind the scenes. Tell your audience a little about each of them, what their role is, a significant accomplishment of theirs or, yes, an interesting story about them. This isn’t just about showing that you’re a decent human being who shares credit, etc., but it gives your audience a better idea about the strength of the team behind the product and – assuming it’s a good team – reassurance that you can actually pull it all off.
This might be a tricky slide to place, especially if you have stiff competition. You don’t want it too early, in case seeing what you’re up against puts people off; you also don’t want it too near the end, as it may linger in the audience’s memory. It’s unlikely that you’re the only one trying to solve whatever the problem is, and pretending that you are isn’t going to do anyone any good. Investors need to take these things into account, and they certainly won’t thank you for trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
Your product is going to make you and your investors money – how? When? You should have planned it all out and have an estimated schedule for when the money is going to start rolling in. Again, don’t exaggerate, don’t guess, and don’t make promises. Just have a sturdy and reassuring business/revenue model.
You don’t need to lay out a detailed plan for marketing your product, but show that you do actually have a plan for getting customers to take notice. Show how you are going to grow the product and the business, and when you expect to be able to do so. Keep focus on the core product and its initial stages, but also show that you don’t have tunnel vision – your plans and ideas do extend beyond actually launching the product.
Now your heart will start to beat harder and your hands will shake. But you won’t falter. You won’t lose your momentum or your confidence.
What investment are you looking for? What are you going to do with it?
Yes, the investors are there to be asked for money, but let’s not shake a moneybox at them and leave it at that. Your last slide should thank them for their time, leave them with something important but concise – like your tagline – and give them your contact details in order of importance and relevance to them (they probably won’t use Facebook or Snapchat to let you know they want to invest). Remember to keep the slide simple and concise – don’t pack it with key points from the other slides, bombarding your audience at the last second.
You have now taken roughly 12-15 minutes of your audience’s time, and if you have a good business and product, and have focused your slides on the right things, they’ll be thankful for it.