This is a preview of your story

Powered by

Storydoc

What Is a Pitch Deck? A Beginner's Guide to Greatness

Learn the definition of a pitch deck, what it's used for, who should use it, types of pitch decks, and what tools you need to make a good pitch deck right away.

Dominika Krukowska

Oct 27, 2022

12 minute read

What is a pitch deck

Short answer

What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a presentation showcasing your plan for a new business to investors or VC funds. Pitch decks are used for in-person presentations or as reading material. The purpose of a pitch deck is to convince investors to fund your endeavor.

A good pitch deck should include a clear definition of the problem you tackle, your unique solution, a compelling business model, and a go-to-market strategy.

Pitch decks can feel intimidating because it feels like so much depends on this single document, especially if you’re just making your first attempts at making one.

Even if you’re not intimidated (good for you!) and you’re a true magician when pitching your business idea face-to-face, some investors nowadays ask for your deck by email as a preliminary step before they ever bring you into their office to meet them.

The challenge is making a self-sufficient deck that brings your idea and enthusiasm to life without your in-person help.

In this article, you’ll learn all there is to know about pitch decks, what they’re used for, who needs them, and how to make your own world-class deck as well as the effort and resources it will require.

By the end of this article, you’ll have critical information for success that 9 out of 10 of your peers don’t have.

What is the purpose of using a pitch deck?

The main purpose of a pitch deck is to pique the interest of potential investors. The main challenge of a pitch deck is NOT getting investor buy-in, but rather avoiding being disqualified right then and there.

It’s a common mistake to think that a pitch deck is supposed to persuade investors to invest in your startup, project, or business idea, but in reality that’s still a ways away. You have to be considered for evaluation first.

Every investor or VC has their own investment criteria, and since investors are drowned by people asking for their money they are looking to disqualify you based on those criteria.

In the words of Gordon Miller, an entrepreneur and investor, “Investors aren’t looking to say “Yes”, they are looking to say “No.””

Who needs a pitch deck?

Pitch decks are used by startup founders or entrepreneurs to seek funding for their business ventures by showing high growth potential and a strategy for scaling their business (fast).

Who does NOT need a pitch deck?

1) You do not need a pitch deck if you don’t have any of the following planned out in detail:

  • A business model

  • Market analysis

  • Competitive analysis

  • Costs of building your business

  • A growth plan

  • A GTM (go-to-market) strategy


If you don’t have all of the above then no investor will take you, so don’t bother.


2) You don’t need a pitch deck if your business is too specific so that you have to hand-pick a handful of very particular investors. In that case, you should talk to them and prepare a document tailored to their specification.

3) You don’t need a pitch deck if you can fund your business on your own, whether through your own capital or because your business is already generating revenue (any money you take from investors will dilute your holdings in your company).

4) If you’re looking to close business deals and acquire new clients. Then you need a sales pitch deck or a product pitch deck, not to be confused with a pitch deck for investors.

What does a pitch deck include?

Some investors can be very particular about the pitch deck structure that they expect to see. Whenever possible, you should clarify the outline with potential investors and build your pitch deck accordingly. That said, there are still some basic slides that are to be expected by most investors and VCs.


10 basic slides 99% of investors will require from you:

  1. Big idea (elevator pitch)

  2. The problem

  3. Your solution

  4. Market size and opportunity

  5. Business and revenue model

  6. Traction and validation

  7. Marketing strategy

  8. Team (authority, experience, and skills)

  9. Financials

  10. Investment and use of funds

For more information on this go read our post on the the nitty gritty details of what to include in a pitch deck.

Here's our recommended pitch deck storyline:

How to write a pitch deck storyline

1) Unique Value Proposition

  • What do you solve?
  • For whom?
  • What differentiates you?


2) Big idea (elevator pitch)

  • What is the world like before your solution?
  • What is the world like after your solution?
  • Why are you uniquely positioned to succeed?


3) Problem

  • What pain points are prospects experiencing?
  • What are the financial and emotional costs?
  • What shortcomings do the current solutions have?


4) Solution

  • What do you usually do?
  • How does your solution solve people's pain?
  • What's uniquely valuable in your solution?

5) Vision

  • What's the competitive landscape like?
  • How do you intend to disrupt it?
  • How is it all measured in numbers?


6) Business plan (hard numbers)

  • How are you going to make money?
  • How are you going to scale your business?
  • How can you do it better with more money?


7) How much? Why you? Why now?

  • How much funding do you need?
  • Why is your team the only one for the job?
  • Why is it the time to invest now (or never)?


8) Next step

  • What (small) commitment do you ask for?
  • How can the reader take action?
  • What happens if they fail to act now?

What makes a good pitch deck?

A good pitch deck gets straight to the point. Be clear and upfront about what you bring to the table and why your investors should care. You should back up any claims you make with hard data and wrap it all up in a captivating narrative.

An effective pitch deck should showcase deep knowledge of your industry and market, but deliver it in simple terms that any person with only basic knowledge of your industry will understand.

Michael Wolfe, a startup founder, entrepreneur, and investor says any good pitch deck should have a straightforward format to it. He says:


“The best pitch decks portray:

  • This is what we are doing.

  • This is how we are going to do it.

  • We can do it better if we get some money in.

  • This thing is going to happen with or without you.

  • Are you in or are you out?”


If you’re ready to start making your pitch deck you may want to visit our extensive guide on how to create a pitch deck ➜

According to Michael Wolfe, “The best pitch decks don't feel like they were created for the benefit of venture capitalists. They feel like an outgrowth of the work the startup is already doing.”

So, the preliminary rule is: never create pitch decks with the primary purpose of impressing investors. Instead, use the content you already have to persuade investors to give you funding.

Create a sense of urgency by showing that you’re going to scale your business with or without their support and that they’re going to miss out if they take too long to consider.

You should already know the answers to any question a VC might ask you. And if you don’t… then you’re probably not ready. And investors will smell it on you.

You shouldn’t be pulling your business model or go-to-market strategy out of the hat only to appease potential investors. The questions investors will ask you should already be guiding your everyday efforts to grow your business.

What makes a bad pitch deck?

A bad pitch deck is simply a pitch deck that gets rejected. It’s an unfortunate truth that 99% of pitch decks are therefore bad. The main reason for failure is not successfully standing out, but other reasons can be unattractive design, confusing messaging, or being irrelevant to a particular investment program.

Reasons your current pitch deck is bad (and you may not even know it):

  • Your deck looks like it was designed by your 1st-grade teacher (or you have no design)

  • Your pitch deck HAS a beautiful design but it looks like all the rest

  • Your deck is filled to the brim with text

  • Your deck does not have original graphics supporting your text

  • Your pitch deck content goes too deep into technical stuff that investors don’t care about

  • Your deck messaging has any of these faults: it’s too long, convoluted, complex, inconsistent, misleading, fantastical, antagonistic, overly emotional, or reveals ignorance

  • Your pitch deck is irrelevant to the target investors or not made according to their specifications

  • Your deck is dry as a biscuit and does not tell a compelling story

NOTE: Using PowerPoint to create your pitch deck means putting the fate of your business in the hands of 35-year-old technology that has barely evolved since its inception. If you want to stand out in a sea of competitors, you should always use dedicated pitch deck creators.

What types of pitch decks are there?

There are 2 main types of pitch decks depending on the stage your company is in:


1) Seed pitch deck

A Seed pitch deck is the deck you present to investors when you’re looking to secure your first-ever round of funding. A seed pitch deck will typically be shorter and focus more on presenting your business vision and why an investor should be interested in what you have in the first place.


2) Series A/B/C pitch deck

In the Series A/B/C pitch deck , you should present your key value proposition and pitch your vision. However, as you have been running your business for over a year at this point, it needs to be more financially-heavy than a seed pitch deck. You need to include the current financial results of your company, prove that it has traction, and conclude with financial projections and milestones.

As you will be looking to secure multi-million dollar funding in series A/B/C, your pitch deck must contain all the necessary details to prove to VCs that they’re going to get a return on their investment.


Bonus: Summary pitch deck

Additionally, you can also send a short summary (typically no more than 5 slides) of your business idea, strategy, and requested funding either before securing a meeting with a potential investor or as a follow-up after your meeting.

Static vs. interactive pitch deck

The main difference between static and interactive decks is that static decks follow the traditional format of text-based slides accompanied by images, while interactive decks enable you to create engaging multimedia content.

Another difference is that you can only insert old-school links or image links in static decks, whereas interactive decks allow you to embed lead-gen tools, including calendars, to get readers to book that next meeting straight from the deck.


Here’s what a static pitch deck looks like versus an interactive one:

Static business proposal presentatio

Before: Static pitch deck

Interactive business proposal presentation

After: Interactive pitch deck

Is a pitch deck the same as an investor deck?

Pitch deck and investor deck are terms sometimes used interchangeably. The term “pitch deck” in this context is used to describe a brief document containing basic information about your company and introducing your vision to someone with no prior knowledge of it.

The term “investor deck” is used to describe a more detailed deck with an in-depth analysis of your unique value proposition, market opportunity, and go-to-market strategy.

When in doubt, it can be beneficial to ask potential investors what they expect to see at any stage of the investment process.

Is a pitch deck the same as a sales deck?

The main 2 differences between a pitch deck and a sales deck are their purpose and audience. The purpose of a pitch deck is to convince potential investors that your company is worth funding by promising them the desired return on their investment (ROI).

The purpose of a sales deck is to get prospects to become paying customers of your company by presenting how it’s going to change their lives for the better.

If you want to expand your knowledge you can read our posts on how to create a sales deck that makes you irresistible to buyers, or check out some Unique Sales Deck Examples that Outsell the Rest.

Is a pitch deck the same as a marketing deck?

A pitch deck is a document used to gain investor buy-in during a funding round, whereas a marketing deck is an umbrella term that can mean a host of different things depending on the context it’s used:

  • A marketing pitch deck is a presentation shown externally to potential investors by founders of marketing agencies in the hopes of getting the necessary funding.

  • A marketing sales deck is a presentation shown externally to prospective clients of marketing agencies in order to educate them about your offering and close deals.

  • An internal marketing deck can be shown internally to the general managers and business owners, or to stakeholders to demonstrate a company’s marketing or advertising efforts and present key metrics.

How do you build a pitch deck?

In order to build a successful pitch deck, the design of your presentation needs to be as important as its contents.

There are 4 best practices that can make all the difference between whether an investor gets all the way down or bounces after the first slide:


1) Don’t overload investors with information

I know this sounds like a total cliché, but less is genuinely more when it comes to pitch decks. If you need an entire wall of text to get your point across, perhaps it’s not as clear as you were hoping. Narrow it down to a couple of bullet points and skip that 5th table to show investors that you value your time.


2) Always personalize your decks.

Investors can smell generic from a mile away. Even if it’s the 100th deck you’re sending out this week, they need to feel like you crafted it specifically for them. By including a personal note, you can get 68% more people to read your deck in full.


3) Stay consistent

When your deck looks like you just haphazardly threw together a bunch of slides from different presentations you had on your disc, it doesn’t bode well. Certain presentation makers, such as Storydoc, will auto-extract your branding information and automatically apply it to all slides.


4) Visualize your data

If investors need to make sense of your data to decide whether or not your business is a good fit for them, they’re not going to bother reading. Instead, make the decision process easier for them by visualizing hard data with the help of charts and graphs.


For all our tips and insights, as well as step-by-step instructions with real-life examples, read our guide on how to create a winning pitch deck.

Can I design a pitch deck myself or do I need to hire a professional?

You can absolutely design a pitch deck yourself using one of the many pitch deck creators available on the market. If you already have a designer in-house, you can also get them to design your pitch deck.

If, however, there’s even the slightest chance your pitch deck could end up looking like it was created for a high school project, you may be better off letting a professional handle it.

When investors see a poorly designed deck, they’re already predisposed to disliking your entire presentation. Your chances of shaking that bad first impression are close to none.

How much does it cost to make a pitch deck?

Creating a pitch deck on your own depends on the tool or set of tools you use to create it:

  • Google Slides is free

  • PowerPoint is free with a Microsoft Office license

  • Canva Pro subscription costs $12.99 per month; the Basic version is free.

  • Pitch.com subscription costs $8 per member per month when billed annually, the Starter plan is free.

  • Storydoc subscription costs $40 per seat per month

You may also need design tools like Adobe Photoshop or Figma, which also come at a price.

Hiring a professional designer to create your pitch deck would cost around $100 per hour. The number of hours depends on your needs and the number of iterations you’ll require, but could take anywhere from 3-8 hours.

What is the best software for creating a pitch deck?

There are 3 different types of tools available on the market for creating a pitch deck:

  1. Legacy tools, such as PowerPoint or Google Slides, that allow you to create traditional slideshow presentations. They have limited integration and customization options, and typically follow pre-designed patterns.

  2. Mid-way tools, such as Pitch, Canva, and Visme, which come with a wide variety of templates to choose from and customize. These are more aesthetically pleasing than your average PPT, but don’t offer anything truly new in terms of features.

  3. Dedicated pitch deck creators, such as Storydoc, that provide next-gen interactive templates optimized for engagement, conversions, and performance.

    They let you design on autopilot, as well as customize and personalize your decks at scale. You can also include smart CTAs to get investors to book that next meeting straight away.

For more information, check out our ultimate list of the best presentation software.

Storydoc pitch deck creator

Where can I see examples of pitch decks?

You can find the best pitch deck examples in this post with all the pitch deck examples worth taking inspiration from. The best part is that you can simply take any example on the page and use it as a template for your own pitch deck.

Where can I find pitch deck templates?

If you have itchy hands and can’t wait to start creating your pitch deck, I highly advise that you visit Storydoc’s pitch deck templates gallery.

These templates go way beyond looking pretty—they have been optimized for engaging investors regardless of whether they view your deck on desktop or their phone in-between meetings.

You can pick any of the templates from the gallery below and immediately start designing your pitch deck:

Make your best pitch deck to date

Try Storydoc for free for 14 days (keep your decks for ever!)