Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Developing a Pitch Deck

Regardless of whether or not you intend to raise money, you need a pitch deck. Storytelling and pitch decks are closely linked — every version of your pitch deck will tell a unique story that resonates with its intended audience. You may have one version of your pitch deck that’s for investors, another that’s for recruiting team members, and another to share with the media. Perhaps each version contains 85% of the same content, or perhaps only 50%.

Your pitch deck should tell your story in such a compelling way that it catches your audience’s attention.

Step 1:
Before creating your pitch deck, you need to identify who your audience is. Is your audience investors? Strategic partners? Co-founders? The press?

Write it down: “My audience is ________”

Step 2:
Then you need to identify and articulate what you assume your audience wants to hear…what does your audience care about? Is it % equity? Traction? Market opportunity? Press mentions?

Write it down: “My audience cares most about ________”

Keep your audience and their priorities as your main focus as you create your pitch deck.

Developing a Pitch Deck for Investors
Your pitch deck should be no more than 20 slides, with the sweet spot being around 12 slides. It needs to be short and sweet while still speaking to the needs and priorities of your audience.

General Sequence, Content, and Examples
Authors, venture capitalists, startup founders, and other experts have created different versions of what they consider to be required elements to successful pitch presentations.

In fact, if you Google “what to include in a startup pitch deck” you’ll read varying opinions.

However, most experts agree that the following should be included in your pitch deck (roughly in this order):




Market Size / Opportunity

Business Model

Underlying Magic (e.g., the technology)



Marketing Plan

Team (some experts suggest including the Team slide within the first 3-5 slides)

Traction / Milestones

Some experts also suggest adding:

Mission/Vision of the Company

The Customers


The Ask

Link: https://miro.medium.com/max/1050/1*5cHrFSo90z3ONWfqOXa6UA.jpeg

Sequence & Content:
Consider Guy Kawasaki’s 10-slide pitch deck as a structural guide. This layout offers a good natural order for your content.

(Click to view)

Paul Getty in his book The 12 Magic Slides (2014) suggests the following 12 slides:

(1) Overview: This is your 60-second elevator pitch.
What you do (ten words or less).

The size of your segment that your solution is addressing.

Traction: the number of customers, recent sales growth, the state of product development, etc.

Validation: a quote from a credible customer or a credible industry specialist

That you have assembled a superstar team that has previously made money for investors

(2) The Problem
What is the compelling problem you are addressing? (e.g., revenue enhancement, cost reduction, faster time to market, market reach) Be sure to validate the problem with quotes from customers!

(3) The Solution
What are tangible solutions that customers are willing to pay for? Be sure to validate the problem with quotes from customers!

(4) Opportunity and Market
You address three aspects of your market: TOTAL AVAILABLE MARKET –How many businesses or individuals are willing to buy a solution similar to my product or service? The is the maximum market size and you would indicate this by number of customers, units sold, or total revenues. SERVED AVAILABLE MARKET – What is the total available market that you estimate you might reach and have some possibility of capturing? SHARE OF MARKET – What is the total size of the market that you believe you can actually capture within 3 to 5 years?

(5) Technology and Intellectual Property
What is special about your product/service that is unique and might be protected? This might be patents or trade secrets or a unique way of doing things that cannot be easily copied.

(6) Unique Competitive Advantages
Your unique competitive advantages are likely to be in three categories: people, intellectual property, and relationships. Are these unique competitive advantages easily duplicated? What will it take for other companies/individuals to overcome your advantages? Do customers care about these advantages? Be sure to have customer quotes that these advantages matter to them!

(7) Competitive Landscape
How is your venture positioned compared to current and future competition? Note: Everyone has competition. Be sure to highlight how your customers will differentiate between your venture and the competition. What are these key dimensions? How does your competition and your firm rate on these dimensions? Do not use rankings! Provide specific descriptions of prices and features (e.g., competitor’s prices $50, 60, 45.43, 55. 70 and your price $45.50).

(8) Go-To-Market Strategy
How do you plan to capture market share and grow your business? Who are your primary customers? What channels do you plan to use to reach them? How is your marketing strategy different from your competition?

(9) Financial Road Map
This is an explanation of your business model. What is your venture’s revenue? What are the expenses required to generate that revenue? What are your key assumptions underlying your revenue and expense estimates? At what point do you reach breakeven? How much money to you need? What do you need the money for?

(10) The Team
Why you? What skills, abilities and accomplishments do you (and your team) have that would indicate you can accomplish your goals?

(11) Current Status
What have you achieved so far? You will provide an overview about what you have accomplished in terms of your: product/service, customers, and, partnerships, and, your team.

(12) Summary
You reemphasize: Market – you have a big and growing market, Product – you have a solution to a problem that customers have (and you have evidence – quotes from customers that your solution is what they want), Team – you have the people in place to accomplish your goals, and Credible Projections – your sales and expenses are reasonable and backed up with data. And, finally, you might end with a call to action. What do you need, now, in order to move forward? How can your investors and audience help you?

When creating your pitch deck, it’s helpful to view other sample pitch decks. Here are some pitch decks whose audience was investors:

Pitch Deck Examples from Successful Startups

LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock with analysis

The Best Startup Pitch Decks Of All Time

A Guide To Investor Pitch Decks For Startup Fundraising

Google’s Template Pitch Deck for Startups

Developing a Pitch Deck for Strategic Partners
Perhaps you’re not looking to raise money. Perhaps you’re looking for strategic partners instead (for a pilot or Proof of Concept). There is a lot of cross over between an investor deck and a strategic partner deck. However, there are also some key differences…a main difference being that a strategic partner likely already knows about the problem you’re trying to solve because they feel the pain of the problem.

So rather than try to convince strategic partners that the problem exists, you’re likely going to have to prove why you solve that problem better than anyone else.

By definition, a partnership is an agreement based upon cooperating to advance mutual interests.

When creating a pitch deck for strategic partners, you’re focusing on the story that resonates most with them. What do they care about? What metrics are important to them? If you don’t yet know the answers to these questions, go back to your customer interviews, market research, and competitive analysis.

A good rule of thumb to stick to for strategic partnership decks is still no more than 20 slides, with the sweet spot being around 12 slides. It needs to be short and sweet while still speaking to the needs and priorities of your audience.

Consider keeping these slides from the investor deck:




Mission/Vision of the Company


Clear benefit from choosing you


Milestones / Customers

And then any additional slides you deem necessary to your story.

ZipRecruiter pitch deck for enterprise

Linkedin Series B Pitch Deck

Salesforce enterprise pitch deck

Building a better sales story (ZipRecruiter)

LinkedIn’s Sales Deck

Sales Decks
How good is your Sales Deck, really?

The Deck on Sales Decks

The Sales Pro’s Guide to Decks

The Marketer’s Guide to Decks

Sales Deck Examples

Think Like An Attention Scientist
For the most, the speaker is the presentation and center of attention.

Visual aids should support the speaker, adding to the spoken word, never distracting from it.

Don’t divide the listener’s attention between reading and listening.

Keep slides simple and visual.

Think long and hard about what information is essential on each slide.

Avoid slides full of words. If words are necessary, use bullet points which the mind can scan quickly; rarely use sentences.

If you present grammatical structures, the audience reads and processes instead of listening. Don’t let them decide whether to read or listen. You decide for them.

Additional Resources
An Analysis of Drift’s Strategic Narrative: The Greatest Sales Pitch I’ve Seen All Year (9 min read)

Pitching as Storytelling: Ultimate Cheat Sheet for your Startup’s Investor Pitch Deck (7 min read)

Options for Competitive Landscape Presentation: Competitive Landscape in an Investor Pitch by Donna Griffit (4 min read)

Assessing Your Market Size: On Market Sizing — Also see our Week 7 module

Slide Deck Creation
Canva: https://www.canva.com/

Beautiful.ai https://www.beautiful.ai/

General Advice
10 Things To Know Before You Pitch a VC by David Rose (TedTalk watch time: 14:39)

(1) Create a pitch deck for your startup. Start by (a) identifying the audience for this pitch deck, and (b) articulating what you assume this audience wants to hear…what they care about.