May 24, 2023

The Ultimate 7-Slide Formula for a Winning Startup Pitch Deck

The Ultimate 7-Slide Formula for a Winning Startup Pitch Deck

The Ultimate 7-Slide Formula for a Winning Startup Pitch Deck

Jake Dluhy-Smith

CEO, Co-Founder

Getting that first investor on board is a tough initial task, particularly for first-time founders. The fact of the matter is that, in the early stages, it is all about the founder’s ability to execute and investors to place their bets accordingly. A pitch deck can certainly help a founder raise capital, but at the end of the day, there are many different factors that investors evaluate when determining whether they invest or not. The purpose of a pitch deck should be to articulate those factors in a convincing, clear, and concise way in order to generate interest, open investor doors, and enable founders to cultivate relationships with investors which will ultimately lead to an investment. 

The problem with a “Perfect Pitch Deck”

Many founders I meet with become entangled in the endless pursuit of the “perfect pitch deck.” The truth is, there is no such thing as the “perfect pitch deck” that is universally accepted by everyone it’s shared with. As a founder, the more people you share your deck with, the more feedback you will get. Keeping your deck super simple and avoiding excessive modifications based on the latest feedback will allow you to spend more time growing your business, which is where your time should be spent. Demonstrating tangible progress of your startup is more important than tweaking presentation details.  

That said, a lean, clean, and focused pitch deck can be an effective way to communicate what you are building and can spark investor interest and get you the first meeting. In this article, I'll share the seven key slides I’ve found in successful pitch decks of the 35 portfolio startups we’ve worked with in the last 7 years. 

Seven Slides

  1. Company Purpose
  2. Captivating Problem
  3. Business Opportunity
  4. Product Value Proposition
  5. Business Model & Competition
  6. Team & Traction
  7. The Ask & Financials

Copy the template directly from Google Slides.

Slide 1 — Company Purpose

The Company Purpose slide should convey the core mission and vision that drive your business. It sets the tone for your entire pitch and helps investors understand the broader context of your startup. Here's what you may want to consider including on this slide:

  • Mission statement: Clearly articulate the primary purpose of your company. This statement should explain what your company does, who it serves, and the value it aims to deliver. Keep it concise and memorable.
  • Vision statement: Share your long-term vision for the company, describing the future you aim to create or the impact you want to have on the world. This statement should inspire and excite investors about the potential of your business.
  • Why: Explain the motivation behind your company's founding and the problem you're passionate about solving. This personal element can help create an emotional connection with investors and demonstrate your commitment to your company's mission.

Use concise language and avoid overcrowding the slide with too much information. By the end of the Company Purpose slide, investors should have a clear understanding of your startup's overarching goals and what drives you and your team.

For help in setting the best mission and vision statements for your company, check out our article on how to set your startup’s mission and vision.

Slide 2 — Captivating Problem

The Problem slide is where you articulate the pain point or challenge that your business aims to address. This slide should capture the investor’s attention and establish the need for your product or service. Here's what you may want to consider including on this slide:

  • Description of the problem and its magnitude: Start by describing the problem in a clear, concise, and compelling manner. Use simple language that is easy to understand, and avoid jargon or overly technical terms. Explain the size and reach of the problem, including the number of people or businesses affected. This will help investors understand the market potential and why your solution has a chance to be widely adopted.
  • Market validation: Provide evidence that the problem exists and is worth solving. This could include market research, industry trends, or customer feedback that demonstrates the demand for a solution.

Keep this slide focused on the problem itself, rather than your solution. By the end of the Problem slide, investors should have a clear understanding of the challenge at hand and be eager to learn how your startup is providing the solution.

Slide 3 — Business Opportunity

The Business Opportunity slide is where you present your solution to the problem and explain how it addresses the market needs. This slide should create excitement and showcase the potential for your startup's success. Here's what you may want to consider including on this slide:

  • Solution overview: Provide a clear, concise description of your solution, focusing on the benefits it delivers to customers. Explain how your product or service solves the problem you've identified and what sets it apart from existing alternatives.
  • Market trends and timing: Explain why now is the right time for your solution. Discuss any market trends, technological advancements, or changes in customer behavior that create a favorable environment for your startup.
  • Market size and potential: Quantify the potential market for your solution. Present data on the total addressable market (TAM), serviceable available market (SAM), and serviceable obtainable market (SOM). These figures will help investors understand the potential for growth and profitability.
  • Scalability: Describe how your business model and solution can scale over time to capture a larger share of the market. This may include plans for expanding your product offerings, entering new markets, or leveraging network effects.

Focus on the opportunity your solution presents. By the end of the Business Opportunity slide, investors should feel excited about the potential of your startup and ready to find out more specifics about your product or service.

Slide 4 — Product Value Proposition

The Product Value Proposition slide is where you communicate the unique benefits your product or service offers to customers. This slide should highlight the key features and advantages of your solution, demonstrating why it's the best choice for your target market. Here's what you may want to consider including on this slide:

  • Unique selling points: Describe the most important features, benefits, or differentiators that set your product or service apart from competitors. Focus on the aspects that are most relevant to your target customers and address the problem you've identified.
  • Customer segments: Outline the specific customer segments you're targeting, and briefly explain why your product is an ideal fit for their needs. This will help investors understand who your product serves and how it addresses their pain points.
  • Product screenshots: Include visuals, such as screenshots or mockups, to give investors a better understanding of your solution and how it works. Ensure that the visuals are clear, high-quality, and effectively convey your product's functionality and user experience. A simple way to visualize the product is through showing the core flow of the product.

Define the value your product delivers to customers, rather than getting bogged down in technical details. By the end of the Product Value Proposition slide, investors should have a clear understanding of what makes your solution unique and appealing to your target market.

For help wireframing or mocking-up your product, check out free tools such as Mobbin, Figma, or Marvel App.

Slide 5 — Business Model & Competitive Landscape

The Business Model & Competitive Landscape slide is essential for demonstrating how your startup generates revenue and differentiates itself from competitors. This slide should provide a good understanding of your monetization strategy and how your solution stands out in the market. Here's what you may want to consider including on this slide:

  • Revenue Streams: Outline the primary revenue streams for your business, such as sales, subscriptions, advertising, or licensing. Explain how these revenue streams align with your product or service offering and what the pricing is.
  • Sales Channels: Detail the sales channels you use to acquire customers, such as direct sales, online marketing, or partnerships. Highlight any unique or innovative strategies that give you a competitive advantage.
  • Competitive Matrix or Chart: Create a visual representation, such as a matrix or chart, to compare your startup with competitors across various dimensions like features, pricing, market share, or customer segments. This helps investors quickly grasp your competitive position.
  • Competitive Advantage: Articulate the unique advantages that set your solution apart from competitors.

Strike a balance between discussing your business model and competition on this slide. By the end of the Business Model & Competition slide, investors should have a clear understanding of how your startup generates revenue and differentiates itself in the market.

Slide 6 — Team & Traction

The Team & Traction slide is vital for showcasing the strengths of your founding team and the progress your startup has made so far. This slide should demonstrate your team's expertise, experience, and commitment, as well as provide evidence of traction and growth. Here's what to include on the Team & Traction slide:

  • Leadership: Highlight the most important members of your team. Outline each team member’s role and showcase their relevant experience, skills, and achievements. This can include past roles, successful projects, or industry-specific expertise that demonstrates their ability to lead and grow the company.
  • Advisors / Investors / Partners: Mention any notable investors, board members, advisors, or strategic partners who are already involved with your startup. This can add credibility and demonstrate that your team has attracted the support of experienced professionals.
  • Traction to date: Share the most significant milestones and achievements your startup has reached so far, such as product launches, customer acquisition, or revenue growth. This demonstrates progress and validates the viability of your business.

Focus on the strengths of your team and the traction your startup has gained. By the end of the Team & Traction slide, investors should feel confident in your team's ability to execute your vision and drive the company's growth.

Slide 7 — The Ask & Goals

The Ask & Goals slide is crucial for clearly communicating your funding needs and outlining the objectives you plan to achieve with the investment. This slide should demonstrate how the capital will be used to grow your business and generate returns for investors. Here's what to include on the Ask & Goals slide:

  • The ask: State the amount of funding you're seeking. Be specific about the figure and ensure that it's aligned with your business needs and growth objectives. Briefly describe the investment structure you're proposing, such as equity, convertible notes, or SAFE agreements.
  • Use of funds: Provide a breakdown of how the investment will be allocated across various aspects of your business, such as hiring, product development, sales, or expansion. This helps investors understand how their capital will be used to drive growth and create value.
  • Short-term goals: Outline the key objectives you plan to achieve within the next 12 to 18 months. These might include product milestones, user growth targets, or revenue goals. Be specific and realistic about your short-term objectives to avoid overpromising and under-delivering. 
  • Long-term plan: Share your long-term plan for the company, including where you see your business in 3-5 years. This helps investors understand your ambitions and aspirations, as well as the potential return on their investment.

Stay concise and focused on your funding needs and growth objectives. By the end of the Ask & Goals slide, investors should have a clear understanding of how their capital will be used to grow your business and achieve your stated goals.

For help setting business goals, check out our article on the difference between business and product goals and tips to setting both.

Additional Materials

Sharing the pitch deck with investors is just the beginning of the process. Typically throughout the investor’s due diligence, you may be asked to share the following materials.

  • In-depth market research
  • Marketing and sales plans
  • Organization chart
  • Technical documentation
  • Financial projections

Creating these materials is not only important for fundraising purposes but also serves as crucial foundational building blocks of any healthy startup. 

Examples of Successful Startup Pitch Decks

For further inspiration, take a look at these successful startup pitch decks:

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, creating a compelling pitch deck is crucial for early-stage startups seeking seed investment. Our 7-slide formula offers a clear, concise, and effective blueprint for crafting a winning pitch deck. But remember that focusing on growing your business and demonstrating real traction is way more important than the endless pursuit of the “perfect pitch deck.”

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