Writing and Designing a Pitch Deck for Your Startup (2023)
In the world of startups, writing and designing a pitch deck is one of the most important tasks. A pitch deck is a short presentation that outlines the business idea, its value proposition, and how it plans to generate revenue.
It’s the document you’ll create and use to convince potential investors that the business is worth investing in. Let’s explore the process of writing a pitch deck and the best methods of getting funding.
Also, keep in mind that a pitch deck is a fluid document. You’ll want to consistently update it with new information and tweak it in order to get your desired results. It’s a sales pitch, so refine it as you gain experience by showing it around.
Finally, you can always hire a pitch deck consultant to help you through the process. These are experienced consultants that often know the ins and outs of the fundraising cycle and can help you avoid a lot of the pitfalls. They often provide pitch deck services (including a pitch deck creation service) to speed up your fundraising. Toptal has some consultants available if you decide to go that route.
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The Process of Designing a Pitch Deck
Writing a pitch deck requires a fair bit of planning and preparation. It is important to ensure that the pitch deck is concise, informative, and visually appealing. It should absolutely be accurate and honest. Your main motivation here is to get investors to give you money. Any inaccuracies can result in ugly lawsuits later on.
Here are the key steps involved in writing a pitch deck:
Define the Problem
This should be a concise statement that clearly outlines the issue that the business is addressing. Basically, why are you in business?
You should focus on how painful this problem is. If there has not been any improvements or solutions to this problem for many years, be sure to mention that as well. It can help explain how new solutions will be welcomed warmly.
Outline the Solution
This should clearly and concisely describe how the business plans to address the problem. It should be accompanied by a clear value proposition that highlights the benefits of the solution.
Are you saving a person’s time when they use your business? Are you lowering the price of another company’s existing service? Did you build a better mousetrap? This is the core topic of any pitch deck. You are the superhero ready to save the world.
It is important to conduct a thorough market analysis to determine the factors regarding the size of the market and the potential demand for the solution. This information can be used to support the value proposition and demonstrate the potential revenue generation capabilities of the business.
Investors want to see that your solution is needed by a large number of customers. Show them accurate data points.
How do you plan to generate revenue? This should be a clear and concise description of the various revenue streams that the business plans to utilize.
Subscription model, product model, service model, etc. You want to have this defined and explained clearly in the pitch deck. Don’t go in with the “we could do any of these” kind of thing. It’s ok to pivot slightly later on, but investors want to see that you’ve clearly thought this out and are presenting a tight solution to them.
Anticipate that every investor will have questions about revenue. You should have hard numbers ready for them so they can feel satisfied. A lack of clarity will just make your pitch sound like an idea, rather than a business solution.
Have you conducted a thorough analysis of the competitive landscape to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competition? This information can be used to highlight the unique selling points of the business and differentiate it from the competition.
How will you differentiate yourself from other businesses? It’s critical that you (and your clients) know what sets you apart.
Team and Advisors
Provide information about the team that will be responsible for executing the business plan. This should include information about the team’s experience, expertise, and track record. It is also important to highlight any advisors or mentors that the business has.
You’ll probably use some of the funding to expand your staff and fill in needed openings. Be sure to include those open spots and explain how filling them will benefit the company. Perhaps you know someone that would be perfect for a position, but you need the money to hire them first. Include their detailed bio as well.
Financial projections are a crucial component of any pitch deck. You must provide realistic projections that demonstrate the potential revenue and profitability of the business.
Investors know these are difficult to hit, especially with a startup business. But you should always have a solid forecast, and data to back up the forecast.
I’ve seen people who wildly exaggerate these forecasts and they are almost immediately rejected. Investors are taking a large risk already with your startup. They don’t need fantasy to enter into the equation.
It is ok to have a scale in the forecast that shows how revenue will be if you have 20 customers, 40 customers, 60 customers, etc. But be ready to be asked, “what is holding you back from reaching the 60-customer level”? Investors want to see you scale quickly so if you show that is might be possible, they could set that as the target.
Call to Action
The final step is to provide a clear call to action that encourages potential investors to hand over their money. This should be a concise statement that outlines the next steps that potential investors can take to get involved with the business.
Explain how much investment you are seeking and the date you are hoping to have all fundraising completed by. If you have other investors, explain how much money they have invested as well.
You want the investors to have a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) experience. However, don’t do this from an elitist angle. Just politely explain how you are aggressively seeking funding and are hoping to have it wrapped up by XX date. This may not have any effect on the investor, but if they are excited about your product, it won’t hurt.
Whatever you do, don’t think that you’re smarter than the investors. Most investors have been in your shoes and have the experience that you don’t have. Always be respectful and grateful that they are giving you their valuable time.
Making Your Pitch Deck Stand Out
Now that we have discussed the process of writing a pitch deck, let’s focus on how to make your pitch deck stand out from others.
Here are some tips to make your pitch deck more effective:
Focus on the Problem and Solution
As mentioned before, really nail down how your solution addresses the problem. Make sure to clearly communicate the benefits of your solution and how it stands out from other solutions on the market.
Think about Garmin started making GPS watches for runners to track their distance. The solution was obvious, and it got investors excited to be part of it.
Visual aids such as charts, graphs, slides, and images can help to illustrate your points and make your pitch deck more engaging.
I would want to use visuals on nearly every page, but only if they are relevant to the information you are presenting. People love to look at something in order to strengthen the message being given.
Keep It Concise
Investors are busy and receive a lot of pitches. Keep your pitch deck concise and to the point. Use bullet points and short sentences to convey your message.
You want a pitch deck to almost be an accessory to your verbal pitch. Don’t write too much in it.
Tell a Story
A good pitch deck tells a story that engages investors and keeps them interested.
Use a narrative structure that takes the investor on a journey from the problem to the solution and how your business will make an impact.
I personally find this difficult to write at times, but a good problem-agitate-solution template always helps me get over my writer’s block.
Use Real Data
Investors want to see real data that demonstrates the potential of your services and overall business. Use real customer testimonials, market research, and financial projections to back up your claims.
Remember, investors (especially VC firms) will receive hundreds of pitch decks every week. And they are very engaged with the various industries for their businesses. Use accurate industry data, because they probably already know it.
Practice Your Presentation
Your delivery is just as important as the content of your pitch deck. Practice your delivery to deliver your pitch with confidence and enthusiasm.
You’ll get better at this over time. Practice speaking clearly and anticipate the questions you’ll be asked. Have your answers rehearsed and polished. Ask your cofounders or spouse to listen to your presentation and be open to suggestions on making it better.
The Best Methods of Getting Funding
Once the pitch deck design has been finalized, the next step is to find funding. There are several methods that can be used to secure funding:
Angel investors are typically high-net-worth individuals who are looking to invest in early-stage businesses. They are often interested in businesses or companies that are in the ideation or development stage.
It is very common for startups to get initial funding from an Angel Investor, then later seek funding from a Venture Capital firm for a larger investment.
Venture capital is a type of funding that is provided by investors to entrepreneurs who are looking for high-risk, high-reward investments. Venture capitalists are typically interested in businesses that have the potential to generate significant revenue and profits.
Check out our list of some of the best Venture Capitalist firms.
Crowdfunding is a method of raising funds by soliciting small contributions from a large number of people. This method is often used by businesses that are looking to raise funds for a specific project or product.
Kickstarter is an example of crowdfunding. With Kickstarter, you can set an overall funding minimum before you’ll move forward with the product. This allows you to “test” the public’s reaction before any manufacturing begins.
Grants are a type of funding provided by government agencies or non-profit organizations. They are typically awarded to businesses that are working on projects that align with the goals of the organization.
These will be lower amounts overall (less than $100,000), but if that’s all you need, try them out. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a grant program to promote entrepreneurship.
Crafting a pitch deck for your startup requires thought, creativity, and strategic planning. We’ve laid out some key components investors will be looking for and how you can work to incorporate those into the design of your pitch deck. Moreover, there are numerous resources available online to help you craft the best version of yourself possible and secure the funding you need to take your startup to the next level.
If there’s anything we learned from successful pitch decks, it’s that they should stay true to who your team is and focus on delivering key messages in an organized manner. With all this information combined with your determination and entrepreneurial spirit, you have a great chance of success!
If you have any questions about writing or designing a professional pitch deck for your startup, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us – we would be happy to help give advice or point you in the right direction.