How to Write a Fundable Pitch Deck (as Advised by VCs)

Learn how to write a pitch presentation for investors. How to structure a pitch deck and prepare your narrative to stand out, charm investors, & get funding.

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Short answer

What slides should I include in my pitch deck?

  1. Introduction (value proposition + hook)
  2. The problem
  3. Your solution
  4. Market size and opportunity
  5. Business and revenue model
  6. Traction and validation
  7. Marketing strategy
  8. About your team
  9. Financials
  10. Investment and use of funds

What is a pitch deck in the eyes of investors?

A pitch deck from the investors' perspective is a visual narrative of a company's promise and strategy. It helps gauge a founder’s vision, execution capabilities, and unique value proposition.

A pitch deck’s purpose is to help investors understand whether a business idea and the team behind it have a chance of making it big and fast.

How to give investors what they want

Investors are extremely impatient and picky. You’re just another startup out of thousands knocking on their door, why should they give you their time?

Most investors will give you about 5-10 seconds to convince them that your pitch deck deserves a closer look.

If you only make your pitch deck based on best practices, you’re just doing what everybody else does. Which means… you’ve already lost your chance. You have to do things differently.

This article wil skip the basics of common best practices or what is a pitch deck and draw deep insights from the advice of seasoned VCs.

Now let’s make a killer pitch deck that's better than 99% of those out there.

3 types of pitch decks you need to write

Before diving into the content of your pitch deck, it's essential to recognize that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.

VCs expect multiple types of pitch decks:

  1. Intro Pitch Deck: This is the initial deck you send to pique the interest of potential investors and secure a meeting.

  2. First Meeting Pitch Deck: A more detailed presentation for your first face-to-face with investors.

  3. Subsequent Meeting Pitch Decks: As discussions progress, your deck might need to evolve to address deeper questions and provide more detailed data.

Note: you don’t get extra points for customization, it’s expected. Tailor each pitch deck to the specific investor you're addressing or you’ll come off as unprofessional.

The 4 Types of Pitch Decks & The 6 Things A VC Needs to Know, featuring James Currier at NFX

How to write a fundable pitch deck

There’s no silver bullet to writing the perfect pitch deck, but I intend to guide you through the hard work, based on what we learned from venture capitalists over many decks.

NOTE: Before you write your pitch presentation to investors remember, it's not just about securing funds, but about finding the right partners to help your startup thrive.

You are looking for people you trust, who have experience working with similar startups, and with whom you’d enjoy spending time. If you choose the right investors for you, it’s likely they will think the same.

7 pillars of a compelling pitch deck

  1. Problem/solution: Be specific about the problem you’re solving and who you’re solving it for and how is your solution uniquely valuable.

  2. Market: Clearly define the market you're targeting. Who is your ideal customer? What's the size of the market opportunity?

  3. Traction: Showcase your progress. Whether it's user numbers, revenue, or other KPIs, demonstrate that there's a growing demand for your solution.

  4. Business Model: Break down how you plan to make money. This includes pricing strategies, revenue streams, and projected margins.

  5. Team: Highlight the strengths of your team. What unique skills or experiences do they bring to the table?

  6. Competition: Map out the competitive landscape. Show that you have a deep understanding of your market and how you plan to differentiate.

  7. Projections: Provide a glimpse into the future. Outline your growth plans and how you envision the company evolving in the next five years.

Before writing your pitch deck- preparing your narrative

Beyond the numbers and facts, your pitch deck should tell a story. Start with the problem you're addressing, then introduce your solution, and finally, showcase the results and impact.

Encase your narrative within a broad vision of a better world for your customers with your solution in it.

This narrative approach not only makes your presentation more engaging but also helps investors connect with your vision on an emotional level.

YouTube's pitch deck is a great example of a simple (yet compelling) narrative:

Pitch deck intro - the subtleties of a one-liner

According to our data, it takes people only 10 seconds to decide if you’re interested in reading your deck. So, you should start with a strong hook. That’s your one-liner - which should be the title of your pitch deck.

In the vast sea of startups, having a memorable one-liner can set you apart.

As some VCs have pointed out, the best one-liners not only clarify the business but also evoke an emotional connection.

For instance, Airbnb's "The place to book unique stays and experiences" is not just descriptive but also aspirational.

Crafting the perfect one-liner can be a game-changer, offering an immediate answer to the question, "Why should I care?"

Describe the problem you solve with emotion and facts

Investors expect a well articulated problem (put simply) backed by hard data and facts. To make the problem more compelling you should demonstrate the severity and reach of the issue.

Founders should show that they:

  • Empathize with the target market.

  • Deeply understand their clients' pain points and aspirations.

  • Can corroborate their prospects’ sentiments with concrete data.

Here's an example of a great problem slide:

Prob slide example

A unique solution that's hard to copy

The solution investors expect to see is not a just new and innovative, it also has to be hard to copy. Even if you’re on to something, if your competition can steal your idea, they will.

Founders should be prepared to answer tough questions:

  • What’s preventing your encombant competitors to replicate your solution?

  • Do you have a patent that protects your technology from copycats?

  • Can you win against your competitors only with the features you’ve innovated?

When making your solution slide:

  • Limit the scope: The solution slide should only address what's outlined in the problem slide.

  • Outcomes over features: The solution should explain the outcome or benefit of your product, not the intricate details of how it works.

  • Avoid hyperbole and jargon: Use "matter of fact" language without exaggeration.

Here's an example of a storytelling solution slide:

Solutio slide example

The significance of market understanding

One of the foundational elements that venture capitalists emphasize is a deep understanding of the market.

Founders should be able to articulate:

  • Market Size and Potential: Clearly define the total addressable market and the segment of the market you're targeting.

  • Market Dynamics: Understand the speed of the market, the assets of incumbents, and the nature of competition. For instance, is the market ripe for disruption? Are there structural reasons, like regulations, that might slow down a startup's pace?

  • Competitive landscape: Who are your direct competitors, indirect competitors, and potential competitors, and what’s your answer to the threats they represent?

Here's an example of a market analysis slide:

competitive landscape slide example

Traction and metrics

One of the most emphasized points by VCs is the importance of traction. Demonstrating momentum, be it through user growth, revenue, or other key metrics, can significantly bolster your pitch.

It's not just about showcasing impressive numbers but also about illustrating a consistent upward trajectory.

Make sure to address these issues:

  • Niche specific metrics: Make sure your traction is commendable based on your specific product and market benchmarks.

  • Manipulated data: Investors are wary of cumulative graphs that show linear growth as non-linear.

  • Percise questions: Knowing your microeconomics can impress investors. Being quantitative about customer acquisition is vital.

  • Complex infomation: Including data visualizations such as charts, graphs, or infographics are the best way to make complex information look simple.

Here's an example of a traction slide:

traction slide example

Retention and growth metrics

While initial traction is crucial, VCs are particularly interested in understanding the sustainability of that growth.

Metrics like Daily Active Users (DAUs), Monthly Active Users (MAUs), and retention curves can provide a deeper insight into the health of a startup.

A strong retention curve, for instance, indicates not just initial interest but enduring value for users.

Business and revenue model and future projections

Investors will want to know how exactly you intend to make money. Having your revenue model worked out is a MUST.

So before pitching in front of investors work out a clear revenue model—will you rely on active revenue streams (a one-time fee or subscription to use your product/service), passive income (ad or affiliate revenue), or a mixture of both?

Do you offer a premium solution for the high-end market? Or are you planning to undercut your competition with a more affordable product/service?

revenue model slide example

Show revenue projections

Don’t just present your revenue plan with no throughout 5-year projections. Provide concrete and well calculated projections to show you have a good business plan, not just a good business idea.

Here's what a revenue projections slide can look like:

revenue projections slide example

The evolution of your business models (yes, plural)

Venture capitalists often stress the importance of not just understanding your current business model but also envisioning its evolution over the next 5 to 10 years.

Startups should be prepared to discuss:

  • Future Economics: How will unit economics change as the business scales?

  • Pricing Evolution: Will prices increase as the company grows, or will economies of scale allow for price reductions?

By showcasing a forward-thinking approach, founders can demonstrate not only their vision but also their adaptability and resilience in the face of market changes.

Your team is your biggest asset

Naval Ravikant, co-founder of Angellist and a seasoned investor (Uber, FourSquare, Twitter,, Notion, Stack Overflow, and more), emphasizes that the team behind a startup is arguably its most crucial asset when seeking investment.

Here's what investors are looking for in a team:

  • Competence and proven track record: A competent team demonstrates the capability to execute ideas and navigate challenges.

  • Resilience and adaptability: Strong teams can pivot and adapt, turning obstacles into opportunities.

  • Shared vision: A united team with a clear, shared goal ensures consistency and direction.

  • Passion and drive: A passionate team is more likely to persevere, even in tough times, ensuring the longevity of the startup.

  • Natural attraction: Stellar teams naturally draw investors due to their proactive approach and innovative solutions.

Here are examples of team slides:

leadership Team slide example
Team slide example

Technical and ecosystem changes

In the rapidly evolving world of technology, what was impossible yesterday might be feasible today.

Founders should be prepared to discuss:

  • Technical Advancements: What technological shifts or advancements make your solution possible or relevant now?

  • Ecosystem Changes: Are there changes in the broader ecosystem, such as platform shifts or regulatory changes, that open up new opportunities?

By highlighting these changes, founders can make a compelling case for why their solution is timely and necessary.

The role of timing in a startup’s success

Timing can be everything in the world of startups. Understanding the economic importance, technological catalysts, and cultural acceptance of your startup can be pivotal.

Founders should be prepared to answer questions like:

  • Why is now the right time for your startup?

  • What technological or societal shifts have made your solution viable or necessary?

Vision, long-term strategy, and roadmap

While the immediate details of your startup are crucial, venture capitalists are also investing in your vision for the future.

Founders should be prepared to discuss:

  • Long-Term Goals: Where do you see your startup in 5, 10, or even 15 years?

  • Expansion Plans: Are there plans to diversify product lines, enter new markets, or expand globally?

  • Marketing strategy: How do intend to acquire new customers in amounts that achieve hyper-growth? Will you focus on inbound marketing such as pay-per-click campaigns, content marketing, SEO strategy, social media marketing, or outbound, such as TV and billboards?

  • Potential Exit Strategies: While it's early, having a thought-out exit strategy can be appealing to investors, whether it's an acquisition, merger, or IPO.

  • Roadmap: How will your vision and strategy take shape? Outline your plan from Go-to-market to significant milestones that fast growth depends on.

Here's an example of a roadmap slide:

roadmap slide example

Building trust through transparency

One of the subtle yet powerful ways to build trust with potential investors is through transparency.

This doesn't mean sharing every minor detail but being open about things:

  • Challenges and Hurdles: Every startup faces challenges. Being upfront about them and discussing how you plan to overcome them can build credibility.

  • Feedback and Iterations: Discussing how you've incorporated feedback and made iterations to your product or business model can demonstrate adaptability and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Engaging with questions and concerns

A pitch deck is just the beginning of the conversation. Founders should be prepared for a barrage of questions from potential investors.

Engaging with these questions thoughtfully can demonstrate the following:

  • Depth of Knowledge: It shows you've done your homework and understand the intricacies of your business.

  • Adaptability: How you handle unexpected questions or concerns can showcase your adaptability and problem-solving skills.

  • Passion and Commitment: Your enthusiasm and commitment to your startup shine through when addressing questions and concerns.

Including social proof

Social proof isn't just about following the herd. Referrals from trusted sources are valuable. However, relying solely on social proof might indicate underlying issues with the startup.

  • Leverage Referrals: Highlight introductions or endorsements from well-known entrepreneurs or investors who have backed you before.

  • Showcase User Testimonials: If you have positive feedback from early users or beta testers, include their quotes or case studies to demonstrate market validation.

  • Highlight Key Partnerships: If you've collaborated with reputable companies or influencers in your industry, mention them. It shows that trusted entities believe in your product or service.

  • Avoid Over-reliance: While social proof can be powerful, don't solely depend on it. Ensure your pitch deck also emphasizes metrics, the product, and the team.

  • Stay Authentic: Only use genuine endorsements and avoid fabricating or exaggerating claims. Investors value authenticity and can often see through insincere attempts at social proof.

Here's an example of a social proof testimonials slide:

testimonials slide example

Ending the pitch - Making the ask and detailing use of funds

Sometimes, entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in crafting the perfect pitch deck that they forget about the key final element: how much money they need to bring their vision to life.

If a VC is to invest in your startup, they’re gonna want to know how you’re going to spend their money.

Make it clear what you need the money for:

  • Explain why their funds are essential to scale your business and back up your numbers with hard data.

  • Breakdown the milestones you’re hoping to achieve with the funding.

Here's an example use-of-funds slide:

use of funds slide example

After the pitch - Handling rejection (feedback as a goldmine)

Rejection is a part of the startup journey. However, every rejection is an opportunity for feedback.

Proactive founders use this feedback to refine their pitch decks, address concerns, and come back stronger.

Every interaction with a VC, whether it leads to investment or not, is an opportunity for growth.

The best VCs will provide candid feedback, and it's up to founders to use this feedback constructively.

What to do if you get rejected:

  • Refine your business model.

  • Addressing potential market concerns.

  • Invest effort in building relationships with VCs, even if they initially pass on an investment opportunity, can be invaluable.

  • Regular updates showcasing progress can reignite interest and potentially lead to future collaborations.

I hope you realize by now, that creating a winning pitch deck is not a one-time endeavor. It's a continuous process of refinement, adaptation, and growth.

Do NOT hesitate to follow up

Post-pitch engagement is as crucial as the pitch itself. Keeping potential investors updated about your progress, especially if you've addressed specific concerns they raised, can reignite interest.

Regular updates, even if they're quarterly, can keep your startup on an investor's radar and open up opportunities for future collaboration.

How to complement your storytelling with design

Your biggest challenge when sending a pitch deck to investors is getting their attention in the first place.

To get them to actually read the deck you’ll need to stand out. Your pitch deck design plays a major role in getting you past this obstacle.

But more than that, excellent pitch deck design makes your content more engaging, memorable, and persuasive.

To build an outstanding and memorable deck there’s no better design approach than Narrated design (also called Scrollytelling). It binds all the elements of pitch deck storytelling together seamlessly so you don’t have to work hard.

Here's what a scrollyrelling startup pitch deck looks like:

Pitch deck storytelling design principles

  1. Storytelling and Narrative Flow: Break down complex data into digestible chunks, guiding investors through your business story.

  2. Show, don't tell: Use striking visuals that complement your narrative. Whether it's infographics, high-quality photographs, or product screenshots.

  3. Interactivity: Use live graphs and real-time data to demonstrate market demand or customer satisfaction. Allow investors to interact with the data, making your pitch more engaging.

  4. Multimedia: Incorporate various forms of media to give your pitch deck a dynamic feel. Use videos, animations, and audio clips to break the monotony and make your presentation more engaging.

  5. Personalization: Tailor your pitch to your investors. Address them by name, feature their logo, or include a personalized message. This shows you've done your homework and care about their perspective.

  6. Consistency: While creativity is encouraged, it's essential to maintain consistency in branding and design. This ensures a professional look of your pitch deck.

  7. Simplicity: Avoid the temptation of overloading slides with information. Stick to one main idea per slide, ensuring clarity and focus.

Pitch deck templates with interactive storytelling desing

Incorporating scrollytelling into your pitch deck not only makes it interactive but also increases your chances of securing funding.

So, next time you're preparing a pitch, you can save a lot of time and improve your chances by using one of our tried and tested pitch deck templates and truly stand out.

Grab one!

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Amotz Harari, Head of Marketing

I lead Storydoc's team of marketing gentlemen and women dedicated to eradicating Death-by-PowerPoint wherever it lurks. Our mission is to enable decision-making by removing the affliction of bad content from the inboxes of businesses and individuals worldwide.

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