• Stevie V Brown

What is a Pitch Deck?

A pitch deck is a concise presentation that gets prospective investors, co-founders or mentors excited about your startup idea and demonstrates the business plan behind it.

An idea alone will rarely get you investment. Investors are looking for the plan behind the idea. This means researching, strategizing and developing a business plan before attempting to put a pitch deck together.


To me, a pitch is much more than a presentation. It's the whole game. It's knowing your target customer and competitors better than they know themselves. It's understanding the size and opportunity of your market. It's exploring the most effective and scalable business model. It's running the numbers to put a commercial value and reality to what you're creating. It's checking your legal obligations. It's scoping your tech and finding your team and resources. It's all of this and more.


And once you've done all of that; it's being able to succinctly articulate the way in which you intend your idea to become the commercially viable venture you've imagined. It's inspiring investors to feel the vision you've been dreaming of and to bring them certainty that you are the one to bring it to life.


Related: Pitch Deck Examples from 3 Funded Startups


Creating a pitch does not mean sitting with a blank screen and typing into a PowerPoint presentation. Sure, that's usually the format in which a pitch is ultimately presented to the world, but putting the slides together and creating a pitch deck is the end part of the process.


The first stage is knowing what you want to say in your pitch and being able to articulate your pitch in the most compelling and concise manner. This is where the skill in pitch writing comes into play.

Many early stage startup founders I talk to can tell me with passion about their idea, but most admit to having trouble articulating it in a compelling way in just a few sentences.

And that's ok; because it's much harder to write a short paragraph to capture the full essence of your idea, than it is to write pages of information explaining every inch of what's in your head.

Crafting short, succinct, and powerful articulations of an idea take time, and most don't come from just sitting down with a piece of paper and trying to write them. They come from immersing yourself in a strategic thinking process that enables you to fully explore and express the commercial viability of your idea.


Here are 5 key things you'll need to know BEFORE you start writing your pitch deck.


Related: 14 Steps to Creating an Effective Pitch

01. Market Size & Opportunity

You've identified a problem and found a solution, but do you know how big a problem it is? Do you know how many people globally are experiencing the problem and whether other viable solutions already exist? In other words, how big is the market you're going into? How many likely customers will there be and is the market, and therefore the problem, going to grow in the future? You'll need to do some serious research and arm yourself with some reliable statistics to prove to investors that this is a solution worth investing in.


02. The Business Model

This is simply the model by which customers will buy from you and how you will make money. There are now many different business models and picking the right one for your concept is key to how you will acquire and retain customers and how you will make a profit.


03. Target Customer

This means having an extremely clear understanding of the needs, wants, attitudes, behaviours and expectations of a group (or segment) of people who will be interested in your product. If you currently consider you target customer to be ‘anyone and everyone’ then you’ve got some work to do!


04. Marketing Strategy

Sometimes referred to as 'customer acquisition and retention plan, a well-considered marketing strategy is what will tell investors you are serious about acquiring customers and you know the way you will do that. A strong marketing strategy also include a full customer journey that tells us how customers will be reached, engaged, converted and turned into loyal, returning customers.


05. Financial Projections

Investors are looking for realistic, conservative numbers based off an actual budget ("bottom up" forecasting), where you can show them the costs of running the business and providing the product or service, and a realistic number of customers required to make a profit. You can build it up from there to show the expected growth over 3-5 years.


Especially if you're pre-revenue, demonstrate a clear and structured 'use of funds' and the burn rate of capital. This means how quickly will you use up the investor's funding and when will you be looking to raise more capital. In the time period of the investor's funding (the runway), what results will you expect to achieve for the investor?


Investors expect there to be a period of no or low return, but ultimately they are betting on a high return potential and a clear exit strategy that will make them money in the long run.

Show them you are capable of managing finances responsibly.

Want more help?

PitchQuest® is an exciting online coaching program that takes founders on a strategic journey to turn their early stage idea into a viable commercial venture and create a pitch deck that’s ready to pitch to investors. Find out more and get your pitch done.

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