Startup Founders - Here’s Your Step-by-Step Guide to Build Your Pitch Deck
Startup founders need to put a compelling and persuasive pitch deck together when they are seeking a round of investment funding from investors. It is this essential funding that will go towards growing your company in a structured and successful way.
This should tell founders just how important it is to create and present a persuasive pitch deck. One that grabs the attention and interest of investors.
However, there is a catch! - To achieve the above goal you have a very limited time in which to get your message over.
While the length of presentation time you will be given varies depending upon which source you take it from, it is safe to say that investors will only spend on average between 3 and 5 minutes reviewing a pitch deck!
That may seem like a tall order, however, as has been proved time and again it is very achievable. This step-by-step guide from WOWS Global on how to build an effective pitch deck will give you the building blocks to do exactly that.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Pitch Deck
Here are the steps required to build a pitch deck that not only packs a punch but can be delivered in 5 minutes or less.
Every business is different. However, following the format below will work for the vast majority of businesses and will increase the likelihood of generating potential investor interest.
Step 1 - Your Vision & Value Proposition
As a founder, you have a vision. You will also be convinced that this vision has a value proposition.
Both need to be put over in a short, sharp, attention-grabbing way. Keep this to one sentence only. It should be an overview of your business and the value you will give to clients and customers.
Take time out to come up with a variety of vision & value propositions before deciding on one. The key here is to keep it short and attention-grabbing. An example to follow is a ‘Tweet’ of no more than 140 characters. This needs to be clear and understandable by all
If you are in the tech sector, it is acceptable to make your statement and value proposition as a comparison to a company that is already very well-established. If you decide to go that route make sure your business model reflects and is similar to the company you will be referencing.
Three examples of successful vision and value proposition statements are:
- Airbnb: "Book Rooms with Locals, rather than Hotels"
- UberCab: "Next-Generation Car Service"
- Twitter: "To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers."
Step 2 - The Challenge
You may prefer to title this slide ‘The Problem’. The reason for stating ‘The Challenge’ is because a challenge states clearly that you intend to overcome the problem!
Remember, you need to convince investors that your business is being built to solve a problem. Failure to explain what that is will greatly reduce your chances of securing investor interest.
This slide aims to talk about who has the problem and what the challenge is in solving it. You may wish to touch on the current market solutions available, but don’t spend too long on this because that opportunity will come later.
An effective way to get your point over is to give a true, relatable short story that defines the existing problem. The more concise, to the point, and ‘real’ that story is, the more it will help potential investors understand what your business is all about and how you are responding to the challenge.
Step 3 - The Opportunity and Details of Your Target Market
Without a clearly defined target market, your business will flounder. It is essential for founders to understand that their service or product cannot be everything to everyone.
This slide needs to show demographic detail in terms of who your ideal customer is and how many of them there are. Then you need to give the total market size and how you are positioning your company within that sector.
This is where accurate/in-depth research must be carried out before your pitch presentation. Being able to provide potential investors with hard data is essential.
This should relate to facts such as how much is currently being spent by individuals and/or businesses in that market and any projected growth data. Presenting this hard data will help investors gain a sense of current and future total market size.
Clear graphics and figures are needed here. This part of your story explains the scope and scale of your opportunity.
Having said that, caution is required. It is very tempting to define the market size and opportunity to be larger than it is. Founders should temper that by sticking to relatable, specific data and what they foresee as realistically reachable market numbers. The more specific this data is, the more realistic your pitch will be.
Step 4 - Your Unique Solution
A question many founders will ask here is “Why is this step/slide not nearer the beginning of my pitch presentation?”
It is a fair question, but the answer lies in the classic storytelling approach. You should first build up the problem, describe how it is adversely affecting people, and then give the investors your unique product or service approach. One that will come to the rescue by resolving the current market shortfall.
At this point in your presentation, you will hopefully have captured the attention of potential investors. This slide is the time for you to dive into a compelling, clear description of how existing and future customers will use your product and how it addresses the problem/challenge stated in step/slide 2.
If it is at all possible, use pictures, images, and relatable stories to describe your solution. This works far better than an extended verbal explanation.
Step 5 - Revenue Model / Business Model
By the time you reach this slide, you should have told a good story and stoked investor interest. Now is the time to explain how your venture intends to make money, what your products or services will cost, and who this revenue will be coming from.
This detail will vary depending on the type of company you are building. As an example, if you are a content delivery site then your revenue will mainly come from advertising. However, if you are a product or service company there will be a heavier reliance on subscriptions and paid-for services from clients and/or consumers.
It cannot harm to reference the current competitive landscape to show how your pricing fits into the larger market. If doing so, make this relevant to the price scale of related competitors. I.e. give price comparisons of premium, higher-priced, or budget solutions.
Step 6 - Do you Already Have Customers Onboard?
This slide will only be included if you already have early adopters or a customer base to talk about.
Showing investors that your business model has some aspect of stability and success will demonstrate that their risk is somewhat reduced. Any validation you can give in this respect should be seen as being a very powerful persuader for investors to part with funds.
This is a slide that can also be used to state your milestones. You should highlight major goals already achieved as well as future milestones and expected timescales to reach these.
Step 7 - Put Forward Your Marketing & Sales Strategy
As many founders will already be aware, one of the biggest challenges they face is finding, winning, and keeping customer attention. This means you need a clear plan of how your business is going about reaching that all-important target market and an explanation of the sales channels you will be using.
To achieve this, liaise with your marketing and sales team members to ensure you get concise, key tactics of how your company is going about marketing and sales initiatives.
Many of these initiatives will be based on proven methods used by other successful companies. However, if you intend to use any marketing and sales initiatives that differ from your competitors, highlight these in full.
Step 8 - Having an Effective Team on Board Really Does Count
Explain exactly why you as the founder and the key personnel already recruited are best placed to build and grow your business. If any of your team members have been part of a successful business before joining, highlight that success. Potential investors are looking for expertise in key areas. Any that you and your team have should be clearly stated.
If your team is not yet complete it will not harm to identify the key position(s) you are intent on filling. When doing so, give the reasons why such experienced new members will benefit your company’s continued growth.
Step 9 - Financials - Do not get too Involved!
All potential investors will want to see your financials. This includes such things as Profit and Loss statements aka income statements, sales forecasts, and cash flow forecasts. Where possible this detail should be for at least 3 years.
But, it is important to remember that a pitch deck is not the place for ‘busy’ spreadsheets that are hard to read. It is important to limit details to charts showing relevant financial data. Examples are sales, total customers, your outgoings, and any profits.
There is always a temptation to “over-egg” projections by putting unrealistic “hockey stick” projections on a slide. Investors see this far too often. Instead, be ready to discuss realistic assumptions made as to why/how you have arrived at your sales goals. You should also be ready to explain what the company’s key expense drivers are.
Explaining growth based on traction you already have is an effective approach. If applicable, comparisons relating to similar companies in your related industry can also be very useful.
Step 10 - Delve Into the Competition
Every founder knows that their business has competition. This can be directly, indirectly, or both. Do not shy away from that fact during your pitch presentation. Use competition data in this slide to your advantage.
You need to describe where your company fits into the competitive landscape while making it very clear why you are different. Highlight the key advantages you feel you have over what is currently available. Any “unique” part of your offering also needs to be stated loud and clear.
This is where you convince investors why and how you differ from others in your sector. Explain what edge you are giving to customers and why you are convinced they will respond favorably to what you are offering.
Step 11 - The Amount of Investment Required - Do not Forget to Mention it!
In closing your pitch deck presentation you do need to state clearly the investment amount you are looking for and explain how those funds will be used.
At the beginning of the piece, we mentioned that securing funds directly from a pitch deck presentation is not your main aim. That remains true, but investors will still need to have a handle on the amount of funding you are looking for.
Just as importantly, they will want to know why you are looking at that sum and how you intend to use it. Clearly outlining how the investment given will help you achieve your goals of growing the company is something that needs impressing on investors.
Any startup that already has investors involved should highlight this and explain exactly why those investors have chosen to invest in your company.
An Unwritten Pitch Deck Piece - Seek Experienced Guidance!
There are no two ways about it, a professionally presented, highly persuasive pitch deck presentation can make or break your startup's success.
It is clear that founders know their business inside out. It is also a given that they are 110% committed and have full belief in the merits of what their business can offer.
What is not so common for many founders is any experience in the preparation and presentation of an effective pitch deck.
This is where assistance and expert guidance should be sought and the highly-experienced WOWS Global team is ready to give exactly that.
We have been there, we have intimate knowledge of what makes investors tick and we are ready to guide you through the pitch deck maze. Seeking our assistance will give your startup the best chance of securing that much-needed funding.
Establishing a relationship with WOWS Global will give you access to myriad tools designed to maximize your company’s continued and structured growth. Furthermore, our state-of-the-art digital ecosystem has been designed to bring everything you require into one secure online place.
Not only will our highly knowledgeable team assist you in producing the best possible pitch deck, but we also have exclusive access to like-minded investors who are ready and willing to invest in startups that appeal to their investment strategy.
To find out more and arrange a no-commitment discussion, please do not hesitate to contact us at: