Here's How to Successfully Pitch Your Startup: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Perfect Pitch Deck

John Emmons

As a startup founder, one of your most challenging tasks is pitching to investors or potential partners. The stakes are high, and there is no room for error. A great pitch can change the course of your company forever. A terrible pitch can leave you with nothing but an awkward silence and a frozen smile. That being said, having a strong pitch deck can make all the difference between getting funding or being ignored. Pitching is about communication – you have to sell an idea in 60 seconds, which requires careful planning and compelling visuals. But what does that mean? How do you create the perfect pitch deck? Well, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading to find out more.

What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a short presentation that summarizes your startup idea and business model. It is designed to be visual and captivating, not wordy or long-winded. While the term is most commonly used in the context of venture capital investors and startup founders, it applies to any sales situation where you need to quickly and effectively communicate an idea. 


Why do you need a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a visual representation of your startup idea. It is a tool that helps you tell investors or potential partners about your business in a concise and compelling way and is similar to a longer “elevator pitch.” An elevator pitch is a short, concise speech designed to grab (and keep!) your audience’s attention in the time it takes to ride in an elevator. A good pitch deck will allow you to “sell” your business or product to potential investors or clients. This is essential because, in the startup world, there are a lot of ideas – but most of them never come to fruition. Investors want to see that you have a strong idea and a viable plan for how you will execute it. A pitch deck will help you communicate that to them in a clear, concise, and compelling way.


The key elements of a perfect pitch deck

The number of slides you use (I recommend 10) and what they contain matter a great deal in any pitch deck. You always want to make sure you cover the following points with as much clarity as possible:

  • Problem - What is the problem that your company solves? What is the pain point that you’re trying to alleviate?

  • Solution - How are you solving the problem? This is a good place to outline what your product is direct and to the point.

  • Product - This is where you add more detail about your product, how it works, what the functionality in the real world is, and how it’s earth-shattering.

  • Team - Why this team? What have they done? Why are they the right team to bring the solution to market?

  • Market - Who is your target audience? Where do you plan to operate? What is the size of that market? Do you know the total addressable market (TAM), serviceable addressable market (SAM), and serviceable operable market (SOM)...This is where visuals are helpful. A pie chart, graph, or diagram is more effective than words.

  • Business Model - What is the structure of your company? What are the company’s assets? Most importantly - how will you make money?

  • Competitors - Who are your competitors, and what are they doing? How are they different from what you are doing?  

  • Traction - What significant milestones have you achieved to date? Revenue? Intellectual property? Partnerships?

  • Timeline - What are the key milestones in your company’s journey? What is your Go to market? When will you need the next raise?

  • The Ask - What are you asking for, and what are you giving up for it?


Step 1: The Problem and Solution

The first part of a perfect pitch deck is the problem and solution. You have to show the investors what the problem is and why? So they understand why your product is needed. You must explain the problem in a way that paints a vivid picture for your audience. You have to make it clear that this is the problem your product solves. The problem has to create a real visceral reaction and be relatable. This is followed by the solution section; your solution needs to provide a real sense of relief. You also have to articulate this clearly and as simply as possible. The entire deck is about supporting this; it is the reason you are building a company and why you are raising money, and don’t forget this is where you have to show how your product solves the problem.


Step 2: The Team Description

The second part of a perfect pitch deck is the team description. Investors want to know who is behind the project and who has the experience, knowledge, and skills. You have to show them that you have the team for the job. This part of the pitch deck is important because it gives the audience a clear picture of who’s behind the project, who’s doing what, and who’s doing what. It’s also important to include some information on the team’s previous experience and the achievements they have made in the past.


Step 3: Know the audience and what they want!

The third part of a perfect pitch deck is knowing the audience and what they want! Investors are diverse. That means your deck will have to appeal to all people. Knowing your audience means that you understand what motivates them, what they want, and what they expect. What do they want to see in a pitch deck? What would make them sit up and take notice? What grabs their attention? Investors expect to be impressed. They expect to see a deck that clearly shows them how your business will make money. They want to see a strong team behind the business. They want to see how the business will grow and succeed.


Step 4: Professional Layout; use the tools!

The fourth part of a perfect pitch deck is the professional layout. A visually pleasing and well-organized pitch deck can be the difference between raising funds and receiving polite rejections. Investors don’t have time to sift through a confusing or disorganized deck. They will quickly become frustrated with your company and move on to the next pitch. A visually appealing deck will keep their attention. It will direct the reader through the information in a logical way. It will make the information easier to understand. It will make you look more professional. You can achieve a professional look by using a tool like Canva to design your deck. Canva has templates that allow you to create a visually appealing deck in minutes. It provides a wide variety of attractive images, fonts, and layouts. It is easy to use, even for people who aren’t designers.


Step 5: Practice, practice, practice!

The fifth part of a perfect pitch deck is to practice, practice, practice! You need to practice your pitch so that it flows naturally. You need to practice so that you can remember the information. You need to practice so that the message is clear and compelling. It’s important to remember that you aren’t trying to memorize a script. You aren’t trying to read from the page. You are trying to communicate your idea effectively. Practice will help you ensure that your pitch is concise. It will help you keep your points organized. It will help you clearly convey your idea. It will help you remember what you need to say. It will help you avoid awkward pauses and stutters.


The perfect conclusion

The last part of a perfect pitch deck is the conclusion. This is the last thing that investors will see. It needs to be just as compelling as the rest of your deck. It needs to leave them with a lasting impression. It needs to be memorable. It also needs to be realistic. Investors want to see that you have a solid plan for moving your company forward. They want to see that you have a clear understanding of the challenges that your company faces. They want to see that you have a realistic timeline for how you will move from the current stage to the next one. You need to end on a high note. You need to leave investors with positive feelings about your company. You need to leave them with a sense that your company is the right investment.

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