What to Include in a Pitch Deck (Slides 99% of Investors Want)

There are 10 crucial slides 99% of investors expect to see or you're out. Learn what info to include in a pitch deck and how to build your slides effectively.

Dominika Krukowska

9 minute read

What to include in a pitch deck

Short answer

What to include in a pitch deck?

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

  1. Introduction (UVP + hook)
  2. Problem (your market segment has)
  3. Solution (you have that no one can copy)
  4. Market size and opportunity
  5. Business and revenue model
  6. Traction and validation
  7. Marketing/growth strategy
  8. Team (authority & experience)
  9. Financials
  10. Investment and use of funds

99% of pitch decks fail.

The average investor will spend 10-20 seconds assessing a new pitch deck, and if your deck does not include what’s needed that’s all an investor will need to disqualify you.

The truth is, most investors are looking for the same basic information. We’ve analyzed over 100,000 presentation sessions and ended up with 10 basic slides that encapsulate the essential information investors are looking for.

Critically, if you include all 10 slides in your pitch deck, you’re positioning yourself to be within the 1% of pitch decks that grab investors’ attention and influence their decisions.

Let’s dive straight in!

How do you structure a pitch deck?

A pitch deck should be structured in the form of a narrative. First hook your investors with your value proposition, then lead them through the problem you solve, how you solve it, and your vision of a better world with your solution in it. Then end with the details of how their funding will help you do it.

Recommended pitch deck storyline format:

best pitch deck format

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 slides should be in a pitch deck?

Let’s cover some theory of what should go into each slide and see what it looks like in practice.

1) Introduction

Based on our research, it takes investors just 10-20 seconds to decide if they want to read your pitch further. Here’s how to make the most of what little time you have to win them over:

I. Always open your pitch deck with a strong hook

A hook grabs investors’ attention and gives them a clear idea what’s in it for them (and whether your pitch is even relevant to them). A summary of your unique value proposition is a great way to turn those seconds into minutes.

II. Follow up with a short overview of your product or service

Your overview should be easily understandable even to investors that aren’t familiar with your industry.

Think of it as an elevator pitch-style introduction of your offering. If other VC partners receive your deck without any context, can they understand what you bring to the table? If the answer is no, keep simplifying.

Here’s an example of what an introduction slide should look like:

Interactive slide deck

Aside from the company logo and tagline, it comes with visuals that instantly make it clear what line of business you’re operating in.

After the cover slide, you can find the company’s unique value proposition that summarizes the business vision in one sentence.

2) The problem

In this section of your pitch deck, you should identify a gap in your target market and explain how your solution aims to bridge that gap.

The main questions investors will have are:

  • Is the problem you solve critical enough for people to pay for it?
  • Is it so critical that they would pay any price?
  • Is it commonplace enough to have a sufficient market for large growth?

The best way to go about this is by wrapping it up in a relatable user story. The user story should describe some of the common pain points your target customers are experiencing and why it’s critical to solve them.

Show the necessity of your solution in the marketplace in a way that makes it impossible for investors to imagine a world without it.

Let’s look at the example of Nicebox again. Listing the main problems troubling the industry on a tiered slide is a great way to keep up interest in your deck.

Create a pitch deck - The problem slide

3) Your solution

Once you’ve identified the main problems you aim to solve, it’s time to dive deeper into what it is your solution actually does and how customers use it to change their lives for the better.

Remember that investors are particularly busy people. Don’t make them work hard. You should, therefore, write clear and succinct (avoid walls of text) and support your statements with visuals, such as product demos or interface screenshots.

Investors usually don’t care about the technical specifications and features of your solution, so don’t complicate things. Keep things simple and easy to grasp.

Create a pitch deck - The solution slide

Notice how instead of listing capabilities, the slide describes the solution next to a series of screenshot crops that can easily be replaced to feature your demo video.

4) Market size and opportunity

This section of your pitch deck is where you should go into detail about your target market and where you position yourself within that market.

Don’t downplay the importance of this slide. Your assessment will inform a potential investor’s decision about whether your startup has what it takes to earn them money.

A carelessly prepared evaluation of your market size and opportunity will reflect on your perceived professionalism and aptitude.

What’s the competitive landscape like:

  • How many competitors are there?
  • What is the likelihood of your company succeeding in this landscape?
  • How much money is there to be made?
  • Is your business idea innovative enough to break into the market?
  • How has your industry evolved over time? Is there any further growth potential?

The best way to present complex data in an easily digestible way is by using various data visualization elements or animated number arrays, just like Cannasoft did here:

Create a pitch deck - Market size and opportunity slide

5) Business and revenue model

Now that you showed investors how much money you can make out of your product or service, it’s time to provide details of how you’re going to arrive at these numbers.

I. Outline your main revenue model

Will most of the money come from active revenue streams (a one-time fee or a subscription to use your solution), passive ones (advertisements and affiliate revenue), or will it be a combination of both?

II. Elaborate on the positioning of your product or service in the market

Is it a premium solution for the high-end market? Or, does your competitive advantage lie in a more affordable offer? If your company has tiered pricing, make sure to present the different pricing plans and explain the main differences between them.

If you have already validated your revenue streams prior to pitching to investors, you’re already at an advantage. Present the results of your market tests that show customers are willing to pay your price in order to minimize the fear of risk in potential investors.

Here’s a perfect example of a business and revenue model slide, complete with the primary revenue streams, the company’s position in the market, and main distribution channels.

Create a pitch deck - Go to market

If your business plan is mostly text-based, you can also choose to add a collapsible 'Read more' button, like Cannasoft did here:

Business and revenue model slide

6) Traction and validation

In this part, you need to support your business model with numbers.

I. Present any milestones you have already achieved

Show the critical milestones you’ve attained. It can be anything from your profit margin or the number of sales to the number of return customers. At this point, anything that shows regular growth will work to your advantage.

II. Follow up with a roadmap of the milestones

What are you planning to achieve next with the help of the investors’ money?

Here’s an example of a traction and validation slide:

Create a pitch deck - Traction and validation slide

In the example Cannasoft showcased their milestones in a timeline format, demonstrating the main development plans for each stage. This will keep readers interested and engaged, as they know what bits of information to pay attention to at any given moment.

7) Marketing strategy

Presenting a detailed marketing strategy will prove to investors that you have at least one clear growth engine in place and that you have a clear way forward for growth. If you're unsure of how to best tackle this next part, it's worth reaching out to a certified business mentor.

Main questions the marketing slide should answer:

  • What marketing channels are you going to use to get new customers?
  • Why are these particular channels most suitable for your business?
  • Will you focus your efforts on online acquisition, such as pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and social media marketing, or offline acquisition, such as print advertising, events, and B2B partnerships?
  • What’s the approximate cost of acquisition and anticipated Return on Investment?
  • How is your marketing strategy different from what your competition is already doing?

Here’s an example of a marketing strategy slide:

Create a pitch deck - Marketing strategy slide

The example shows a great way to cover all the talking points without overloading investors with information. It uses tabs to encourage interaction and progressively expose information as the reader requires it.

Tabs are great. We know from our data that they increase the chances your deck being read in full by 41%.

8) Team

Even the best business will fail without the right people leading it. Investors know this all too well. The best idea in the world is no use to them if the people involved can’t carry it out.

That’s why you should dedicate a separate slide to describe your organizational structure and the key members of your team.

Investors will want to know your team’s experience and skills in order to gauge your chances for success.

Just, don’t make the mistake of including their entire life history. Under each team member’s photo, include a short bio-style description listing the main skills and achievements that will be crucial in scaling your business.

Here’s an example of a team slide:

Create a pitch deck - Team slide

9) Financials

Before any potential investor throws money at your venture, they will need to assess the financial health of your company.

In order for them to do that, you will need to provide at least 3 years of projections, including an income statement, sales forecast, and cash flow forecast.

Investors mainly want to check 2 things:

  1. If your venture is headed in the right direction,
  2. And if you can make reasonable predictions regarding sales, revenue, and cash flow.

Investors have been in it long enough to smell hockey stick projections from a mile away. Be ambitious, yet realistic. Don’t promise investors more than you can actually deliver.

Here’s an example of a financials slide:

Create a pitch deck - Financials slide

Notice in the example how using an interactive graph can transform your data from hard to decipher to easily digestible.

10) Investment and use of funds

This is where you ask for money. You wouldn’t believe how many startup founders get so preoccupied with crafting the perfect pitch deck that they forget to ask for money. Sounds surreal, I know, but it’s true.

Make it clear how much money you need to turn your vision into reality.

On top of that, investors are going to want to know how you’re going to spend their funds. Explain why their money is crucial to scaling your company fast and back it up with concrete projections.

Add a percentage breakdown of how you’re planning to allocate these funds, along with the main milestones these investments will help you achieve. This will help investors understand how their money is going to create value.

Create a pitch deck - Investment and use of funds slide

For more information on structuring and branding your deck, check out our guide on how to create a winning pitch deck.

Launch off a killer pitch deck from our ready made templates

We analyzed countless pitch decks to extract the common elements of successful decks, and tested what’s not effective anymore.

The result? Powerful scroll-based, interactive templates that are optimized for engagement and look perfect regardless of the device they’re viewed on. No matter which template you choose, you can rest assured that they’ll sell your vision in the best way possible.

Find the perfect pitch deck template to start creating your deck right away:

Dominika Krukowska

Hi, I'm Dominika, Content Specialist at Storydoc. As a creative professional with experience in fashion, I'm here to show you how to amplify your brand message through the power of storytelling and eye-catching visuals.

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