Your pitch deck is one of the first ways that an investor will interact with you, and it is a critical way of hooking their attention to get that first meeting. Your goal should be to concisely articulate a burning market need, your solution, and why you’re the best team to solve it.
Advice on how long your pitch deck should be varies, from 5 – 20 slides. The reality is that VCs study your deck for less than five minutes, so we believe your pitch deck should be short & sweet. So have a pitch deck that can be used for a five minute or a two hour meeting – the trick is annexes that will help you go as deep as possible.
The Best Format For Your Pitch Deck
- Keep it Simple, Stupid. KISS is a design principle designed by the US Navy in 1960 and still used today – eliminate unnecessary content & complexity to boil your message down to its core. Focus, focus, focus.
- Use the 10/20/30 rule. Your pitch deck should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain font no smaller than 30 points. Read more by Canva and Apple’s Chief Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki. Some good templates are included below.
- Invest heavily in your problem, team, and financial slides. Your problem slide is make-or-break: you need to convince viewers that 1) the problem is big enough, 2) people will pay, and 3) enough people have the problem. Data suggests viewers will spend the most time on your team & financial slides, so make them great. By financials, focus on unit economics. Nobody cares about projections.
- Don’t list your deal terms in your deck. They’re best delivered in person and may vary by investor.
- Again, unit economics are key! Investors want to make sure the fundamentals of your business are sound.
DocSend (below) studied the pitch decks of 200 successful entrepreneurs and came up with the above structure. The only exception was the team page, which appeared either at the beginning or the end, but never in the middle. More companies placed the page at the end and not the beginning, in line with advice from Reid Hoffman, who advises companies to lead with their investment thesis, not a team page.
Read the full DocSend Fundraising Study.
Please, please, please don’t send your deck in Powerpoint (PDFs are slightly better, but still not the best option). DocSend is an online service that allows you to password-protect your documents and collect information about how readers interact with your deck (such as contact info and how much time readers spend on each slide). You can use the data to improve your deck over time.
Sample Pitch Decks
- The pitch decks of 20 Latin American startups that raised over US$1 million, by Launchway Media.
- A curated library of successful (and unsuccessful) pitch decks, by Changency.
- E-Commerce Pitch Deck Collection, by Alexander Jarvis.
Useful Readings and Resources
- The YC seed deck template, by Y Combinator.
- Sequoia Capital pitch deck template, by Sequoia Capital.
- How to write the best pitch deck (9 slide template), by Augustin Sayer.
- How to design a better pitch deck, by Y Combinator.
- Pitching Hacks, by Venture Hacks.
- An in-depth analysis of LinkedIn’s Series B pitch to Greylock, by Reid Hoffman.
- Pitch deck mistakes, part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, by HustleFund.