Pitch deck, what to do & what not do.

For a startup that is looking to raise funds, Pitch Deck is one of the most important documents that it will create along with a detailed financial plan.  

So, what is this pitch deck? In a nutshell we can say that a pitch deck is the startups calling card for the investor.

A detailed presentation which covers important aspects of your business to be showcased to a prospective investor in order to generate curiosity and interest in your idea.

A good or a poor pitch deck can be the difference between the startup getting some facetime with the investor or not.

Pitch deck seems like an innocuous presentation but is much more complex and pristine than any normal presentation. It also covers some very important aspects of your business model and if not presented accurately can be a deal breaker for an investor.

Pitch decks are different for each stage, i.e. as your business grows and goes into different iterative gears so does your pitch deck. For an early stage startup the pitch deck would be completely different as compared to a growth stage startup. The reason is simple, as your business goes from one stage to another the information set based on which an investor would like to make an initial decision also changes. This point highlights a very important feature of pitch decks that they are both dynamic & static in nature. At a point in time they are apt to showcase the situation of things, but information needs to be added and removed from it as time passes by.

We would today focus on an ideal early stage pitch deck, its constituents and other important finer points.

An early stage pitch deck should be:

a) Concise & crisp: For an early stage deck, the no of slides should be at max in the range of 20-22. We would recommend you focus on a length of 18-20 slides to ensure that you are not overstretching and repeating the facts. 

b) Storyline driven: Your startup should follow your organisation’s storyline. Everybody loves stories, so do the investors. A story makes it more interesting and captures the imagination of your audience.

c) Focused: A pitch deck should be focused. Don’t involve components which that are unnecessary for the storyline.

d) Easy on the eye: Your deck should be easy on the eye, neat & clean. Use an easy-going theme/colour scheme, use buttons to depict information and try to keep the text minimalistic. Its you who should talk, not your deck. Language of the deck should also be easy to understand, and the font should also be very clear.

Components of an early stage pitch deck:

a) Introduction: Give a brief intro about the venture and highlight your vision, mission and other key targets.

b) Problem: What problem is your product solving. Do mention the current market scenario and the problem you’re solving using few pointers

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c) Solution: What is the solution to the above-mentioned problem. Do give a broad understanding of the exact solution that you’re building and how is it solving the above mentioned problem.

d) Product: Give a brief description about the exact nature of your product with USP/ Key features and differentiators

e) Market Size: How big is the size of the market that you are solving a problem in.

f) Customer Archetype: Profile of your ideal customer. Explain who is your customer and why?

g) Competitive Landscape: What sort of competitive landscape do you have? And where does your venture stand amongst the competitors

h) Go to market strategy: What is your go to market strategy, and how do you plan to acquire customers, and create your sales pipeline.

i) Traction: What are your current and historical traction numbers. If an early stage venture does not have traction numbers, then please showcase the current order pipeline or customer interest in buying of the product. This would include your revenue, run rate, Average order value, Gross margin %, CAC per customer, Customer LTV (Life time value), etc.


j) Customer feedback: Showcase customer feedback, if any is available.

k) Team: Specify your founding team, and talk about the qualification, overall experience, relevant experience, and why is this the right team for the venture.

l) Ask & Utilization: How much are you looking to raise and how do you plan to utilise it over a specified period.

m) Forecasted financial snapshot: How will your financials look like once you are able to raise funds.

n) Contact us: Show your contact details, mail id’s etc.

o) Appendix: An appendix is very important in a pitch deck and should mention the links to different sources of information and other such points.

This is a general order that you can follow while creating a pitch deck for your early stage venture albeit a few changes here and there. The above-mentioned flow of information will allow you to capture all the aspects that an investor will be looking at while evaluating the deck and will help you to take the discussion with the investor to the next level.

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Founders sometimes overexert the prominence on designing the deck, to lever the power of design and use minimal words.

Founders should always look for the balance in between design and words. There is no rule of thumb for this balance, internal feedback and discussion is the best way possible to judge whether this balance has been achieved.

You should also ensure that whatever numbers/information that you put in the model should be correct and vetted. This rule applies on both internal metrics that you and your team track and are external research focused Information.

A pitch deck is an extremely important document of the whole IM set for a startup when he is looking to raise fund. A simple, precise and straightforward pitch deck is the first steps towards a successful fundraise and can help the founder to gather the resource which can accelerate his growth to the next level.

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Follow our social media channels to catch up our co-founder Ayush Dadhich speaking on the importance and what does an early stage investor looks in a pitch deck.

Written by: Ayush Dadhich & Manas Vashistha

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