Entrepreneurship, Startup Funding

The Best Pitch Decks Have This in Common


We’re in an environment where funding isn’t in free flow exactly. In such circumstances where startups face a looming recession and funding slowdown, it’s more critical than ever to know how to best pitch your startup to investors.

A pitch deck is a substantial part of drumming up financial interest in your startup. A well-designed pitch can walk the distance between struggling and growing startups. In this post, we understand the fundamental aspects of a winning pitch deck, examples of outstanding pitch decks and what they have in common.

Related: Early Startup? Don’t Make These Mistakes Navigating your First Recession

An Unclear Vision Leads to an Unclear Pitch Deck

It’s worth noting that an unclear or cluttered pitch deck results from a cluttered vision behind a business. If you’re struggling to single out the most promising and wanted feature of your product, then you might first want to work on an MVP and reach a clear vision of what your startup is to reflect in your pitch.

Once you have your vision and mission down, fund 5-7 aspects of your product that make you great. There might be hundreds, which is why this process is key. You want investors to walk away with the top 5-7 winning reasons why investing in you is a good idea. Be sure to have everything you need for a slide deck. Then, trust that you have everything you need and create your pitch deck confidently.

Related: How Startups Can Manoeuvre the Current Funding Slowdown

Foundational Rules to Improve your Pitch Deck

Kevin Hale at Y Combinator advises a pitch deck to be legible, simple and obvious.

At the foundational level, all you want to do with your pitch deck is help investors understand what you do so that they remember you. If they don’t get your business, they won’t remember. Here’s how to make your pitch deck understandable.

  • Legible Slides

If your pitch deck is illegible, you won’t drive a point home. Your viewers would be left confused and wondering what each slide says. Consider the rules of inclusive design and then create your slide decks.

Each slide must be legible, clearly visible from the back of the room and written in a simple font. Be sure to bold and highlight things that you want to emphasize. Keep your text in a good contrast to the background to make your slide legible. A recommended combination can be Helvetica font, bold letters, the size of 100pt+.

  • Easy to Grasp

Complex slides grapple with too many ideas at once. Each slide in a winning pitch deck must bring out one idea and drive it home before moving to the next. Since you now have 5-7 main ideas to focus on, your pitch deck mustn’t exceed 12 pages as a general rule. Of course, exceptions exist.

For simplicity, refrain from using screenshots as they make a slide overcrowded and hard to grasp. Instead, simplify the function you want to demonstrate through screenshots and simplify it for the slide.

You don’t want investors to remember your pitch deck but your idea. Investors invest in ideas and teams and not pitch decks. 

  • Obvious Ideas

If a stranger can tell what the idea is behind a slide, it’s delightfully obvious. Obvious slides can carry powerful ideas and make them easy to understand. Obviousness in your pitch deck works in your favor as investors get pitched left and right 24×7. If your ideas and their presentation aren’t obvious, investors might move on too quickly or give up on understanding.

Making ideas explicit means, you’re less beating around the bush and more stating facts like they are. Avoid distractions in your pitch deck, such as excessive branding, animations, memes, text overuse, explanations, photos that aren’t obvious, and humor.

Related: Bootstrapping or Venture Capital- Figuring Out the Path for Your Startup

What an Outstanding Pitch Deck Must Contain

Here are a few other considerations to make while designing your deck.

  • Remember, it’s not about you. A pitch deck’s purpose is to show who you serve, what problem you solve and how you aim to do it. Only include details of the founder’s story and background if it helps the purpose of your startup.
  • Highlight the opportunity and make it evident for investors to see why it exists. For your pitch deck to focus on the opportunity, it also requires to be concise, or a lot could get lost in translation.
  • Show metrics but make them simple to grasp. If you have data and analyses to showcase, create clear charts and explicitly mention what you want investors to see and know.
  • Sell a story. If there’s a compelling story that helps build the case for your startup and brings your purpose to life, share it!
  • Bring trends into the context. If there are certain trends in your industry that you’re capitalizing on, contextualize your startup within those trends.
  • Make it flow. Remember to practice and nourish the flow of your pitch deck. Build it up for success so that there are no doubts lingering in your audience’s minds.
  • Progress over perfection. Call it done once you feel 80% satisfied with your pitch deck. Otherwise, you might risk procrastinating from perfectionism. Choose progress and move forward.

3 Successful Pitch Deck Examples to Learn From

  1. Sequoia CapitalIn this video, Mike Vernal from Sequoia Capital explains what a winning pitch deck includes. In a nutshell, communicate your mission, key features, and market size and keep it simple and stupid. Here’s the VC firm’s own ten-slide pitch deck format for your benefit.
  2. Airbnb Airbnb’s pitch deck from 2008 helped the company raise $20k when it was three months old and $600k at eight months old. The slide deck clearly outlines their early traction, a large market and the readiness for a competitor.
  3. Uber Uber’s pitch deck helped them raise $1.57m in seed funding back in 2010. The key takeaway is easy and obvious- Uber solves the problem of the inefficiency of cabs and aims to solve it with one-click cab hailing.

Work through our short and simplistic guide to build your pitch deck. If you need hands-on assistance and mentorship, learn more about the thriving startup ecosystem at KiwiTech.

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