How to Create a Pitch Deck for Your Startup

Woman presenting her pitch deck.

One of the most powerful tools you’ll have by your side when talking with investors, vendors, or banks is your pitch deck. It’s the most efficient method to describe exactly what your business does and what it will take to get it off the ground. 

Getting your pitch deck to articulate your goals and describe how you plan on accomplishing them will help your partners understand if they should invest in your business.

Recommended: Check out our review of the best pitch deck software for startups.

10 Things to Include in Your Startup Pitch Deck

Below is a list of the 10 most important elements to include in your pitch deck to secure investors and get your startup off the ground. Although your business might have specific aspects you'd like to add to the deck, this list applies to all industries.

What Is a Pitch Deck?

A pitch deck is a presentation that describes your business, its product or service, and how you plan on being successful. You can use this pitch deck to take to potential investors for funding or as a proposal to other possible partners. A pitch deck is typically brief but informative and includes visual elements to help with the presentation:

1. Introduction to Your Startup

The first slide of your presentation should be simple and introduce your business as well as what it does. A value proposition is often included in this slide so that investors or potential partners can clearly understand how your business helps others.

The introduction slide should use vocabulary that is simple to understand and should not include any technical language that might confuse or distract from the presented information.

2. The Problem

The real value of a product or service is its ability to solve a problem that many people are having. The second slide in your presentation allows the audience to understand why your business should exist.

You could tell the story of how you personally went through this problem and used the startup product or service to solve it, or you can rely on data. Look for trends in the market that could prove the demand for your particular service or product and include it in your problem slide.

3. Target Market

For investors or partners to feel your startup is investable, they'll want to know if they will get their money back. Having a slide that focuses on your target market is one way of making hesitant investors feel comfortable. 

Showing investors the size of the market you are about to enter will help them understand how much market share the startup could initially take.

4. The Solution

This is your chance to position your startup as the solution to the problem you stated earlier in your presentation. Of course, the solution should already have been generally stated as the value proposition on the first slide, but this is your opportunity to take it a step further. 

Don't fall into the trap of just stating all the features your product or service offers. Investors want to know the actual value behind those features and what customers could gain by signing up for your product or service. 

5. Validation and/or Traction

The validation and/or traction part of your presentation relies solely on hard, empirical evidence. Investors don't just want slides and a presentation; they want data showing that what you are saying is actually true. 

From the very first inception of your product or service, you should be tracking important key performance indicators (KPIs) for how your customers respond. You should track all growth and traction data points to show investors how much demand the market has for your service or product.

6. Marketing and Sales Strategy

Having a clear message you want to get across with your startup is crucial. Your pitch deck should include a slide that clearly states the marketing and sales channels you plan on using to win over your target market. 

For example, if you have a product for restaurants, including a slide that states the different social media channels you plan on using for marketing would be a smart decision.

7. Industry Landscape

You might think the less competition you present to investors, the better, but the opposite is actually true. Investors want to see a proof of concept, and if nobody has done what you are planning on doing, it will be very hard to convince them it will work.

Including a slide on industry landscape is a great way to show investors what other companies are doing and your unique competitive advantage against them.

8. Introduce Your Team

Investors are walking into your pitch with preconceived notions on what works and what doesn't work. You want to prove that you have all the pieces of your team put together that can contribute to the startup’s success. 

The totality of your team should be well-rounded, and each person should contribute a specific role to the company that leads to its success.

9. Share Financials

One of the most important pieces of the entire presentation is your financials because this is where investors see if the investment is really worth it. Three to five years is generally enough time to project into the future and give investors a realistic idea of where the startup will end up. 

Do not become frustrated if your projections are low in the first year or two — that is normal. As long as your projections have exponential growth in the near-distant future, it will likely be enough to convince investors to support your startup.

10. Investment and Use of Funds

You'll want to show investors exactly where their money will end up. Investors want to make sure that their money will be handled responsibly and with respect — even if they already like the company.

Giving clear plans on how you will use the money could even lead to some investors giving you great feedback on their thoughts on how you could use the money.