pitch deck

By Michael Zhou

Building a pitch deck can be a major form of eustress. On the one hand, your pitch deck can be the key to scoring investment deals that help your business grow. On the other hand, putting a pitch deck together is no easy task. This isn’t the same as putting together a slide presentation at university: often, the future of your startup depends on it. Every slide needs to be carefully designed and well-thought.

You may have bootstrapped your way for quite a while, but eventually, you need outside help to take you to the next level. Pitch decks are the vehicles that help get you there. They help potential investors gain a high-level overview of what your startup is about and what you can offer. Here are five tips for successfully creating a pitch deck that works:

1) Communicate the Plan With Your Team

Creating a pitch deck involves multiple parts. Not only do you require input from everyone on your team, but you’ll may need to outsource some of the work, too. For instance, you need the help of a graphic designer to make your deck visually appealing; a CMO, bookkeeper, or account manager to help make sense of the numbers; a marketer who can convey data from market research; and a project manager to keep the pitch deck project flowing smoothly.

Depending on your unique situation, you may have many more people involved from other roles. Organize your milestones with a team calendar that ensure everyone is on the same page. You should also have regular meetings to communicate updates as the pitch deck is being designed.

2) Start With Your Elevator Pitch

Begin your presentation by stating clearly what your startup is and what it’s about. This should be no more than three sentences, and many startups achieve this in just one. For example, Botletter calls themselves the “Mailchimp for Messenger.” In just three words, you can already get an idea about what Botletter does and what their product can offer. This elevator pitch allows potential investors to hone in on the vision early on.

3) Emphasize the Market

Half of all small businesses will fail within a few years. Studies have shown that the biggest reason for failure is that there was no market need. Many startup founders fail to research their market before presenting, and before launching. Just because you’ve created a solution to a problem doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a market need for that solution. It’s your job to communicate the market need through your pitch deck. This should be backed by data. On the same token, you don’t want to overwhelm the potential investor with a lengthy list of numbers and charts. Highlight the most important information so as not to bombard listeners with statistics they won’t remember. During this time, you should also define your ideal customer and what their core needs are.

4) Don’t Forget the Essentials

Although you should emphasize the market need, there are also other must-haves that every pitch deck should include. This includes financial projections, your concept, competitive advantage, and competition. You should also talk about your founding team and how you plan to execute your branding strategy.

Because you want to stay relatively simple so as not to overwhelm any investors, it might help to reach out ahead of time and ask them if they’re interested in a specific area of your presentation more than others. For instance, if an investor says they’re more keen to understand your competition, you know that that’s an area you have to pay special attention to.

5) Research Other Pitch Decks

Research startups that went to on acquire funding, and analyze those pitch decks to see what made them stand out. Of course, there’s much more to securing investments than having a pretty and well-executed pitch deck, however, seeing other pitch decks can help you better understand what investors are looking for in a presentation—not to mention it could be a great morale booster.

You should also consider sitting in on Demo Days and pitch deck competitions. Do a little research, and you’ll find that pitch competitions are everywhere, especially in startup cities like San Francisco and Boulder. By observing these pitch events, you can get firsthand knowledge of what the pitching process is like, and how are startups are framing their own pitch decks.

Michael Zhou is a Senior VP of Business Intelligence Development and has assisted the Fortune 1000 company with expertise in the web as a whole, including ground-zero marketing efforts that benefit both consumer and vendor. He is also contributor on Esprittoday.

Pitch deck stock photo by PRAIRAT FHUNTA/Shutterstock