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What is a Pitch Deck?

Pitch decks can be used by entrepreneurs to showcase their business to investors when seeking funding.

Entrepreneurs are likely familiar with an “elevator pitch”—a convincing and impressive speech about a business idea or goal that’s short enough to tell in an elevator ride. But what comes after the elevator pitch?

The answer is a pitch deck. A pitch deck picks up where the elevator pitch leaves off, with a little more polish: a slideshow or presentation made for potential investors to get a conversation going. Pitch decks are concise presentations that help investors and clients understand more about your business, including products, services, goals, and strategies. Pitch decks are a visual aid to help businesses attract investors and clients, and understanding the elements of a pitch deck can help you reach your business goals.

What is a pitch deck?

Pitch decks, also known as marketing decks, are primarily used by businesses trying to convince clients or investors to work with them. They’re short presentations to help someone else learn about your business quickly. The primary goal of a pitch deck isn’t to close a deal. Rather, it’s to convince a separate party, whether it’s an investor or a client, to continue the conversation with you about your business.

Pitch decks consist of slides that provide a short summary of your business, business plan, goals, and vision. However, it’s much more complicated than that. While you may have a lot to say about your business and reasons why someone else should work with you, your pitch decks need to be kept relatively short.

Pitch decks can be presented or sent to potential investors and clients via email. Presenting your pitch deck is typically the best way to ensure a potential partner has read through all the slides. It also gives you the opportunity to answer any immediate questions they have.

Two kinds of pitch decks

Often, entrepreneurs will make two kinds of pitch decks. The first is usually shared via email and reviewed by investors on their own. Because of that, it’s content is a little more text and information heavy.

The second is made for an in-person presentation. This version of the presentation will have more visual elements to keep investors focused and engaged, with more information being spoken out loud.

Early-stage investing in startups is important, and finding the right investors for your idea can take time. Your focus with the pitch deck shouldn’t be to close an investment, but to get the conversation going.

Elements of a pitch deck

Every pitch deck will be different, depending on your business and who is the intended audience. However, all pitch desks must have a few key elements to be successful. Here is what you should include in your next pitch deck.

Introduce your business

Every pitch deck must include an introduction about your business. The very first slide should tell your audience who you are and what the business does, and this is a great place to include your value proposition and any other messaging you believe is important for helping prospects learn more about your business, including:

  • What your business does
  • Competitor analysis and why you’re better
  • Reasons to invest in your business

Pose yourself as a solution

Show a problem or gap in your industry that your company intends to solve or fulfill. Investors and potential clients must understand why your business exists. If you’re not solving your target market’s pain points, you can’t effectively demonstrate the need for your product or service. Give a brief layout of the industry landscape and where your company will be positioned within it and what will set your company apart from the competition. This may include the innovative nature of your product, the sustainable ways in which you can run your business, or your all-in-one marketing campaign that has the ability to reach niche customers.

To clearly demonstrate the problem and why you’re the solution, you can put the problem and solution on different slides to help your audience understand what your product addresses and why it exists. You must explain how your business solves specific problems and support your statements with data or visual elements to make the presentation more engaging.

Describe how you will market yourself

Marketing methods change as a business grows. By showing your marketing platforms and how they are purposefully built for a business that’s growing, you’ll show that you’re thinking ahead. Lay out your marketing plans and explain how you intend to market your product via email marketing, social media marketing, and other digital channels, noting that you are prepared to start marketing your business from day one. If possible, bring in supporting evidence using studies, reviews, or statistics. Explain your actionable marketing techniques and include your customer relationship management (CRM) plan.

Show your product in action

If you have them, show pictures of your product in action with product descriptions. This would be a good place to include any positive reviews you have too, but don’t worry if you’re not quite there yet. Consider showcasing your team and leadership—investors may want to know who is executing the mission and vision of your business.

Include numbers

Include your financial figures, your current investments, and your use of funds, especially if there is month-over-month growth or projections for the next 3 to 5 years. If your company has yet to start up and you don’t have that information, don’t worry about it. Either way, make sure to include your fundraising goals, shown in a range. (By creating a range, you might open up opportunities for more investors.)

Mention how to get in touch

Make sure not to leave your investor hanging and make clear what the next steps in a conversation would be. Include your contact information—your phone number, email, website, and digital or social media presence, as well as any professional references you may want to offer.

Your in-person pitch deck

Remember, your in-person presentation can be a modified or extended version of your emailed deck, just with less text and detail and more visually engaging. Though the emailed pitch got your foot in the door, the in-person pitch you will make is a true first-impression. Like the emailed deck, it should be well edited and organized.

Make it clear and simple

Think strategically about the information you present—provide enough details so your potential investors will want to know more. So your in-person presentation should be thorough without veering into fine details. This can be tricky.

Use a clean, visually engaging, and professional design. Make your slides simple and—where text is needed—easy to read. Keep in mind that if there’s too much text on your slides, your audience may be distracted from your pitch by having to read while listening.

Since much of the structure of your presentation will be the same, our following tips will focus on what will differentiate this in-person deck from your emailed deck. Be sure to leave time for your potential investors to ask questions at the end of your presentation.

Stand out

It’s important to make a unique and impassioned pitch to encourage investors and to bring energy to your presentation. Show off the authenticity and originality of your work by incorporating elements of design and videos and pictures of your business at work.

Make the investor’s role easy

Make it easy for your potential investors to consider your ideas. Keep simplicity in mind. Make your slides easy to read—no blocks of text or tiny numbers—and keep your industry jargon to a minimum. For example, if you have an idea for creating an app, detailing the programming or technical aspects may not speak to your audience of investors. However, explaining how customers will use your app to relieve a pain point will.

Offer a detailed business plan

Your business plan should describe the major elements of your business operations, financial models, and goals. While discussing market size, opportunity, and your marketing plan is vital, the importance of your business plan is undeniable. It will show how you are going to achieve success through a viable strategy and exactly how your ideas, products, or services are going to generate income—which is what investors want to know.

Have credible projections

In the email deck you had more room to provide specific numbers. Here, focus on giving a solid—but brief—financial summary and history of the funding you’ve received so far, if any, as well as the investment range you are looking for. Discuss in detail how you plan to use the money and grow your business. The financial plan should summarize and explain the return on investment that the investors can anticipate. Display this information in a graph or easy-to-read imagery, so your investors don’t need to squint at small numbers on a spreadsheet.

Startup Pitch Deck Examples

Still feeling nervous about what your deck should look and feel like? It can be helpful to cross-reference successful decks. If you have a mentor or colleague who has gotten their idea off of the ground, it may be helpful to ask them to share both versions of their decks with you. To get you started, here are some example pitch decks from highly successful companies you may recognize.

  • Facebook used clever graphics and quotes to capture attention and provide a quick understanding of the data they were presenting. The color scheme was minimal, and they used simple headings to make great impacts such as “Our Schools—The Expansion” and “Our Services—Online Marketing Services.”
  • Airbnb’s design was clean and simple, making the deck easy to read and understand. Each slide contained minimal text but large amounts of information. Graphs and illustrative designs provided important context for the service’s ease of use and its financial summaries.
  • Peloton’s 2018 pitch deck showcases how critical it is for a company to continue to look to the future as they grow. The company was originally funded by Kickstarter in 2012. This pitch deck is what the company used to get investors on-board for their Series-F, which made $550 million dollars in funding.

Use Mailchimp to showcase your business

Pitch decks are incredibly important sales tools. Without the right information and elements, you can easily lose out on funding or clients. Your pitch decks must be beautifully designed and concise, so you must focus on the design and copy of your deck to ensure clarity and brevity.

Mailchimp offers several design tools to help you create a winning marketing deck and align your branding across all marketing and sales efforts— from email marketing and social media content to sales decks and business cards. Sign up for Mailchimp to take advantage of our branding and design tools and take your pitch decks to the next level.

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