Guide: How to create a pitch deck that will impress investors

  • Entrepreneurship is difficult sufficient, and pitching your startup to investors can really feel like a efficiency. In addition to showcasing your public talking skills, you may even have to flaunt your design abilities.
  • We requested profitable entrepreneurs and investors how to do it proper. In brief, they are saying it’s best to hold it easy and inform a story in 10 slides or much less.
  • Their different suggestions embody: Tailor your pitch to your viewers, exhibit why now’s the most effective time to launch what you are promoting, and do not forget to say what your organization really does.
  • We’ve included a number of sources to construct your personal deck, and a video through which the CEO of billion-dollar startup Carta walks us by way of his Series A and Series E pitch decks.
  • Visit BI Prime for extra tales.

They let you know not to decide a e book by its cowl — however investors will completely be utilizing your pitch deck to consider your organization’s potential, so you may need to make a stellar impression.

To that finish, we requested a collection of profitable entrepreneurs and investors for his or her finest recommendation on creating a powerful pitch deck:

  • Justin McLeod, the founder and CEO of Hinge, a relationship app.
  • Kim Taylor, the founder and CEO of Cluster, which recruits for superior manufacturing roles.
  • Christina Carbonell and Galyn Bernard, the cofounders of Primary, a youngsters’s clothes model.
  • Megan O’Connor, the cofounder and CEO of Clark, a tutoring-software firm.
  • Jen Rubio, the cofounder, president, and chief model officer of Away, a journey model; Steph Korey was the CEO till 2019.
  • Masha Drokova, the founder and normal companion of Day One Ventures, an early-stage capital agency.
  • Anu Duggal, the founding companion at Female Founders Fund, which invests in early-stage expertise corporations run by girls.

Their primary takeaways? Keep it easy, and embody the data that’s most related to every investor.

At the underside of this text, you may additionally discover the recording of a webinar through which Henry Ward, the CEO of billion-dollar startup Carta, walks us by way of his Series A and Series E pitch decks. Carta has to this point raised a complete of $448 million.

Read on for a sensible information to pitch decks, a breakdown of some spectacular examples, and a few instruments to get you began making your personal.

You would possibly envision strolling into a room filled with investors, requesting $1 million to your firm, and strolling out a couple of minutes later, triumphant.

That’s not usually how issues work.

McLeod mentioned it is extra widespread (and simpler) to kind a relationship with the investor earlier than making your pitch. That consists of asking the investor what sort of data they need to see in a deck and which numbers are essential to them.

Taylor beneficial creating three totally different variations of your pitch deck. Specifically, you may want a brief advance copy, one for in-person conferences, and one other for follow-up calls.

Taylor warned founders not to embody monetary data of their intro deck and “blindly send it to people without qualifying them.” She beneficial DocSend for this goal.

cluster title slide

Cluster’s title slide.

Kim Taylor/Cluster

Make positive to visually characterize your model id

Ideally, by the point you are placing collectively a deck, “you have enough of a vision for the brand that you’re building” that you possibly can visually characterize that model, Carbonell mentioned. Too typically she sees different founders’ decks “either not well designed or generically designed,” and lacking their “brand personality,” she mentioned.

Taylor reminded founders to design their title slide and never to depart it as an afterthought.

“First impressions matter!” she mentioned.

Keep your pitch deck concise.

A couple of entrepreneurs talked about that they’d used the venture-capital agency Sequoia Capital’s pitch-deck template, which incorporates 10 slides, every with one key level.

And Taylor mentioned she makes use of Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule: “A pitch should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points.”

Your deck ought to define a very powerful factors about what you are promoting — not all the things about what you are promoting.

As Bernard put it, your deck ought to “tell a story” so that investors “can understand where you think the business is going to go.”

It goes again to understanding which numbers and metrics matter most to every investor. “If you throw all of your numbers into your deck, it may not tell a story,” Bernard mentioned, and the investors “may not latch on to the right point.”

Rubio mentioned founders ought to “paint a particular image of the one (or perhaps two!) largest alternatives that you are working to leverage, after which focus your pitch on how you are going to strategy them.”

“Otherwise, it’s too easy to give the impression that you’re not clear on your purpose and the value you’re uniquely bringing to the table.”

Carbonell mentioned the most effective items of recommendation she’d heard on this subject is to faux you are presenting the deck to your dad and mom.

In different phrases, do not be afraid to “brag a little bit” — your dad and mom need you to succeed — and “give them a little bit of context for some things,” since they won’t be specialists within the house like you might be.

Carbonell mentioned this mindset had helped her spot any holes within the Primary pitch deck.

When you are creating a deck to use throughout in-person conferences, keep away from the temptation to cram each slide with data.

“Each slide should have one cohesive, clear point, and it should not take a lot of text to make that point,” O’Connor mentioned.

Remember you may be speaking through the presentation, she mentioned, “so you don’t need everything you’re going to say also on the slide.”

Clark Slide on team

Clark’s slide on the crew.

Megan O’Connor/Clark

“In the early stages, a VC is investing in the person (or team), not the company,” O’Connor mentioned. “They have to believe that you are the one that can accomplish the mission above anyone else.”

That’s why she recommends together with a blurb on all the crew and their skilled backgrounds. During the pitch, you possibly can speak by way of your story because the founder.

Taylor mentioned that “people remember narrative and why you are doing something.” If your private or skilled background is related to the corporate, embody that in your deck.

For instance, Taylor grew up in an advanced-manufacturing hub in Wisconsin, so she consists of that level when she’s pitching Cluster.

Yes, it sounds apparent. But the Primary founders mentioned it is easy to get so deep within the weeds that you neglect to inform investors what the aim of your organization is.

“Occasionally, we are so close to what we’re doing, what our actual product is and what we’re offering, that we forget to say it,” Bernard mentioned.

Outline each your grand imaginative and prescient and your concrete execution

Your pitch deck ought to tackle two factors, McLeod mentioned: “Here’s the grand vision of where this is going to go and why this is a big idea” and “We’re going to really nail this one narrow thing really well.”

When McLeod was pitching Hinge, he emphasised the worldwide imaginative and prescient of adjusting relationship tradition. But he additionally confirmed that he had gotten folks utilizing the app within the first place.

Pitch Deck Brex Series B Presentation (5)

A slide from Brex’s pitch deck on market dimension.


Address the market panorama and competitors

Duggal mentioned one widespread mistake she sees in pitch decks is “not addressing competition or figuring out the market landscape.”

“When we think about investing in a company, we want to understand — that’s great that you have an interesting idea or you spotted something that has the potential to be an exciting business — but we also want to understand what is already in the market,” she mentioned.

D1V Deck v5 Clean Copy (1) page 017

A slide from Day One Ventures’ pitch deck on “why now?”

Day One Ventures

Don’t simply discuss the issue and your resolution, Carbonell mentioned. Also reply the query “Why now?”

“It can be very helpful in persuading an investor not only that you have a good idea, but why now is the right time to pursue it and why it hasn’t been done before,” she added.

Drokova mentioned: “A deck is all about why [the business] should exist today and that you’re ready and capable to execute it. With Day One Ventures, it was about our insights into communications and PR, and seeing how much it helps early-stage companies grow in size and valuation, and how it assists with recruiting top talent.”

O’Connor mentioned investors are at all times involved in listening to about your value to purchase a buyer. “At the very least,” she mentioned, “you need to be able to show that your CAC will decrease over time, and what your plan is for making that possible at scale.”

Early on, Korey mentioned, “you might not have enough data to successfully show anticipated traction.” In that case, “focus on other metrics that you can share,” together with qualitative suggestions out of your preliminary analysis.

“When the hard data doesn’t exist yet, there are other ways to prove that there’s an appetite for what you’re building and a path toward success,” Korey mentioned.

Series B deck public   vision copy 19

A slide from Front’s pitch deck on how capital will be used.


Investors need to know what you may be doing with their money.

“You need to be more specific than just letting the investors know you’re going to build the company and should be able to speak to things like headcount, office space, vendor agreements, R&D, and any other big expenditures for your business,” O’Connor mentioned.

Duggal mentioned each deck ought to embody a five-year progress plan.

Carta Pitch Deck

A slide from Carta’s pitch deck on the payback interval.


The “payback period” is how lengthy it will take for investors to get better the price of their funding.

“Investors are going to give your company money because they believe they can eventually make a profit off of it,” O’Connor mentioned. “So in addition to clearly articulating how that will be possible, you’ll also need to share a specific timeline of when it’s going to happen.”

When the Primary founders began pitching investors, they realized they wanted to make their deck even easier.

“Not all of the points that we were making were coming across as clearly as we wanted to,” Carbonell mentioned. So they up to date the slides for the remainder of their investor conferences.

There are a lot of instruments obtainable to create successful shows, and relying in your crew’s design abilities, many companies on the market to make your deck shine. 

Most companies have entry to primary software program like Google Sheets, Power Point, and Apple Keynote, however listed here are 5 on-line companies that go additional.

Each supply a free trial, and supply choices for design and technical help. In order of least costly to most for a premium annual subscription:

  • Slidebean ($96/yr to $228/yr) — Slidebean makes use of synthetic intelligence to robotically populate slides together with your content material. 
  • Canva ($120/yr to $360/yr) —  Canva supplies a full suite of instruments for creating model and advertising and marketing supplies.
  • Haiku Deck ($120/yr to $360/yr) — Haiku Deck has hundreds of templates for presenting on any linked system.
  • Pitch Deck ($499/yr) — Pitch Deck is a platform that permits groups to monitor the efficiency of particular person shows.
  • Prezi ($240/yr to $720/yr) — Prezi is a dynamic canvas software program that is extra like a whiteboard than a slideshow. 

Whichever possibility you select, you may need to ensure you can simply replace your content material and run the presentation easily, together with leaping between slides, with out an excessive amount of fumbling round. 

Also, having a backup PDF copy of your deck readily available may be a lifesaver within the occasion of a tech malfunction. 

Looking for extra steering on pitch decks? Check out these decks that helped startups increase hundreds of thousands.

Now watch the CEO of unicorn startup Carta dissect his Series A and Series E pitch decks:



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