How to Build a Startup Pitch Deck That Hooks Investors
In this final part of the series, Lidia breaks down the next five slides to include in your pitch deck, how to add tracking insights, and how to ensure that you tell a compelling story.
Business model slide.
Investors will expect your pitch deck to clearly explain how your startup makes money. The business model slide provides the perfect opportunity to outline your monetization strategy. I recommend prominently featuring your specific revenue streams.
For example, explain that you generate revenue through a monthly software subscription fee charged per user. If you have multiple streams, break each one down separately. For example, you may charge a SaaS subscription fee as well as additional transactional fees when customers exceed usage limits.
Along with spelling out revenue mechanics, your business model slide should tie monetization back to concrete value created for customers. Demonstrate why users will happily pay for your product.
For example, a $100 monthly subscription translates to users saving 15 hours per week that can be reinvested back into higher value work. These tie-backs justify the pricing and perceived value.
Competitive landscape slide.
Experienced investors know every startup has competition. Pretending otherwise is a red flag signaling naivety. That’s why the competitive landscape slide is so important.
As a startup founder, I've learned investors gain confidence when you demonstrate thorough competitor knowledge. So don’t try to claim your solution exists in a vacuum. Instead, showcase that you've done extensive homework by listing 2-4 successful startups or products that most closely compete with your own offering. Select established competitors that investors will recognize.
Listing just a few close competitors keeps the competition slide more focused. Don’t provide an exhaustive inventory of tangentially related companies, that confuses more than clarifies the landscape. Smart investors understand that if you acknowledge familiar competitive threats, you likely have plans to differentiate and win market share. Admitting competition exists shows maturity and strategic thinking.
In the end, quality research resulting in a focused competitor list builds credibility. Savvy founders don’t downplay competition - they demonstrate deep understanding of market landscapes.
Show why your product has an advantage
After acknowledging close competitors, the next step is showing investors why customers will choose your startup over alternatives. This convinces investors you can carve out market share.
One effective approach is creating a competitive analysis table. List your product and 1-2 competitors across columns. Then compare offering capabilities and features row by row. This allows you to visually showcase capabilities that only your product possesses. For example, highlighting proprietary technology or exclusive partnerships that competitors lack.
You can further showcase areas where you outperform rivals. Specific metrics tell a powerful story.
At the end of the day, investors need to believe your startup has an unfair advantage over the status quo. Whether it’s exclusive partnerships, superior tech, or creative business model – prove you deliver differentiated value.
The traction slide is where startup founders showcase impressive growth metrics that demonstrate market validation. This gets investors excited about momentum and future potential.
Leading with user traction data is powerful. Feature specific stats like "Grown active users from 5,000 to 500,000 in 1 year." Huge growth percentages catch investor attention. Revenue traction can be equally compelling, especially for later stage startups. "Increased MRR from $5,000 to $25,000 in 12 months."
Other great metrics to highlight include app store ratings, customer retention rates, waitlist signups, and platform engagement data like DAU/MAU ratios. The key is distilling your startup's most impressive traction stats into a concise slide that quantifies execution. Avoid featuring vanity metrics that sound nice but lack substance.
In the end, the traction slide is where the rubber meets the road in demonstrating product market fit and ability to scale.
The go-to-market slide.
As a startup founder who has pitched countless investors, nailing the go-to-market slide is crucial for winning over funders. But sadly, most founders botch it. Their go-to-market slides offer vague platitudes about leveraging social media and SEO to drive growth. But no tangible strategies bring the plan to life.
I learned this lesson myself when an investor grilled me on how we’d acquire enterprise customers. I fumbled through talking about inbound marketing rather than outlining a concrete game plan.
I recommend starting by explaining the specific channels you will leverage to attract customers. For example, highlight initiatives like SEO, content marketing, email and LinkedIn outreach. I highly recommend you avoid including paid ads in the list, unless you’ve nailed your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and messaging, know your CAC, and payback time. I see many early-stage startups jump into paid ads too early and waste money on acquiring non-ideal clients at very high cost that churn fast.
Expand on 1-2 of the most scalable channels. For example, if influencer marketing is key, showcase a few relevant partners you are aligning with.
You can visually map out your customer journey from initial awareness all the way through renewal and expansion. This illustrates a comprehensive strategy extending beyond just acquisition.
In the end, your goal is painting a vivid picture of how you’ll methodically acquire and grow customers.
Financial projections slide.
In the past year or two I see many people advocate against including financial projections in a startup pitch deck. The main argument is that these projections rarely come to fruition. However, the primary goal of the financial projections slide is to show investors that you've got a firm grip on your numbers, you get the 'why' and the 'how' of your business model, and you have a plan on how your business is going to grow.
The key is striking a balance between optimism and realism with your projections. Stretch goals are good, but make sure assumptions tie back to your current traction, growth levers, and business model economics.
For example, if you achieved 30% month-over-month revenue growth so far, use that as a benchmark for Year 1 rather than jumping to 300% growth with no explanation. Gradual ramp ups in growth are more believable.
Be prepared to explain the basis for your projections if asked by investors. Share the market data and assumptions used to build your model.
The team slide.
Smart founders use the team slide to transparently address gaps that need filling as their startup scales. Trying to pretend your small founding team has all bases covered comes across as naive. As someone who has pitched investors many times, I've learned they respect teams who recognize their limitations and have a plan for strategic hires.
For example, if your founding team lacks public company experience, highlight 2-3 advisor roles you plan to fill with Fortune 500 veterans. Or if you lack technical experience, outline the key engineering hires you'll make with funding.
Identifying gaps tied to your business model also makes sense. For example, an e-commerce startup could show the COO and supply chain hires they'll need to manage operations. The key is framing gaps honestly by saying something like "To scale our operations, we plan to hire an experienced COO within 6 months."
Transparency around team gaps shows maturity and self-awareness.
How to track a startup pitch deck
Don’t undermine your stellar startup pitch deck with a sloppy sending process. To effectively share a deck, use a method that allows you to monitor investor engagement and maintain control.
DeckLinks is a great option for this as it enables you to track whether your pitch deck has been opened and time spent on each slide. Once you design your startup pitch deck, make it more engaging by adding a video-narration. This communicates your vision with enthusiasm, confidence, and clarity – all important aspects investors evaluate.
Best practices for sharing startup pitch deck with investors
First, export your pitch deck as a PDF file rather than PowerPoint to lock in formatting and visuals. You can also use DeckLinks to video-narrate it and create trackable links.
You don't have to add a video narration to your pitch deck but our numbers show that video-narrated pitch decks can pull in 4x higher engagement than the decks without video. Video-narration makes it easier to convey even the most complex startup ideas and show your passion.
Send the trackable deck link at least 2-3 days in advance of your meeting.
Analyze pitch deck engagement to better prepare for your investor meeting.
Tell a Compelling Story, but Save the Best for Your Call
Remember that a great startup pitch deck functions as a trailer for your startup story - not the full feature film.
Effective decks frame the problem, convey your solution and go to market strategy, quantify the target market, and showcase impressive traction. But they purposefully leave some mystery intact.
As a startup founder, avoid the temptation to cram every last detail about your proprietary tech or business model into your deck's slides.
Experienced entrepreneurs share just enough of the secret sauce to generate investor intrigue and an appetite to learn more. They save key ingredients for the in-person pitch meeting conversation.
Your goal is crafting a compelling yet condensed overview of your startup’s mission that leaves potential investors leaning forward, not yawning in boredom from information overload.
Let the artful framing of challenges, teases of your solution, and slices of promising data pave the path for productive one-on-one discussion.
Startup pitch decks and meetings work in tandem - the winning pitch deck gets investors in the door, your verbal selling seals the deal. Master both for fundraising success.
About the Author
Lidia Vijga is a co-founder and CEO at DeckLinks. Lidia is a seasoned professional with nearly 10 years of first-hand experience in B2B sales and B2B marketing. She has a proven track record of driving growth for companies across various industries.Throughout her career, Lidia has led numerous successful sales campaigns and implemented innovative marketing strategies that have significantly increased revenue and reduced customer acquisition costs.