So, you’ve got your first big-boy VC presentation scheduled—congrats!
While you could stroll into that conference room with a PowerPoint you designed yourself (after countless sleepless nights), you might need more firepower.
All startups need impressive pitch decks that excite VCs. Instead of slapping something together and saying, “That sounds good enough,” it’ time to take a different approach.
Startup pitch decks aren’t about raising money. Not really.
They’re actually for sparking investor interest. You want a pitch so fiery and awesome that you get another coveted meeting with these VCs—and the funding you want so badly.
12 must-have slides for every VC pitch deck
You’re free to build your own slide deck, but if this is your first time in the big leagues, use a proven template first.
You have 12 – 20 slides to make an impression. While you’re free to jazz up the pitch deck with more slides, include these 12 at a minimum.
1. Company information
It looks sketchy AF when you’re asking someone for money and don’t introduce yourself.
Always include company information like your:
- What you do
- The problem you solve
- Your location
- Management team experience
2. Vision and value prop
Have you ever written an elevator pitch? Plop that bad boy right here.
Treat this slide as a short tweet, around 140 characters or less. Your vision and value prop should be so clear that your grandma could understand it.
Oh, and don’t do that thing where you compare yourself to another brand. Saying you’re “The Netflix of workout videos” or “The Uber of bicycles” makes you look like a knockoff.
Remember to combine images with your text to really get the point across. Your goal is to showcase your business’s value in a crave-worthy way that gets investors out of their seats.
3. The problem
This is the most important slide in your deck, tbh.
This defines the problem that you’re solving. Include deets on:
- How big the problem is.
- Why this problem actually matters.
- The people who have this problem.
Lean heavily into your customers’ pain points. You’ve got to help the VCs understand why this solution is such a genius fit for your target market.
4. The solution
Now’s your time to shine! This slide is when you dig into the nitty-gritty of your product or service.
How, exactly, do you help customers overcome their enormous problem?
Use pictures and stories here as much as possible. The visual element will help you tell the story in less time.
And don’t slap this slide at the beginning of your presentation. You want to build up to the solution so you can position yourself as the customer’s hero.
But stay focused on your customers here. Don’t just focus on your product and all the reasons you’re wonderful, but why customers want you over everyone else.
5. Your competitors
Few people have an entirely original idea. So, no matter your market, you have competitors.
VCs want to know about your competitors and why you’re better than them. And don’t walk in saying, “Nobody competes with us!” because that’s usually baloney.
Use this slide to show:
- Who you’re competing with.
- How you’re different.
- Your key advantages and the secret sauce.
What kind of traction have you gotten up to this point? Give investors an idea of your success and scale with the right metrics.
And we say the right metrics here because not all metrics are created equal. You want to give investors an idea of:
- How much you spend and earn.
- How many customers you have.
- How you attract and retain customers.
- Your growth rate and overall potential.
Cost of acquisition, lifetime value, churn, and net promoter score are all great options here. Just opt for metrics that actually mean something—VCs don’t care about website views.
7. Business model
How are you going to make money? Every investor wants to know how you’re bringing home the bacon, because that’s how you’re going to repay them, after all.
Try explaining how you make money, from where, and your pricing model. This should only take a few seconds; if it requires a ton of explanation, your model is too complicated.
Remember, keep it simple. VCs don’t have a lot of time, and you need to highlight how you’re the knight in shining armor for this category.
Everybody wants to see the money! Use this slide to show your current finances and a proposed burn rate.
At best, you need to give 3-5 years of financial projections. That shows investors you’re thinking about a return on their investment, and that you have a plan to get there.
And don’t just throw numbers at people. Briefly explain how you ran the projections—that shows investors you’re being realistic and not a money-grubber.
Oh, and keep this visual, too. Nobody wants to look at a huge Excel table. Data visualizations help VCs get a high-level picture of your finances. Offer the in-depth numbers in a different meeting.
9. Market overview
This slide is about positioning your company in the market.
What does the market look like? This gives investors an idea of how many folks you could actually serve (which affects your profitability in the long term).
Show your total addressable market (TAM) with both top-down and bottom-up models. If you show just one model, explain your reasoning behind that model.
10. The team
You and your co-founders are going to work with VCs a lot. They want to know who, exactly, they’ll be working with.
Show slides with:
- Key team members
- Previous success at other companies
- Key competencies and expertise
The goal here is to show why you and your team are the qualified badasses the VC needs in their portfolio.
If you’re still hiring your team, mention which positions you need to fill and why they matter. And if you’re lacking in expertise, it’s okay to mention it! Highlight why you’re willing to work your butt off to succeed; hard work often beats talent in a VC’s world.
11. Your ask
Yes, the purpose of your slide deck isn’t to ask for money, but … you’re pitching for money. You need a slide asking the VCs for what you need.
This slide should give investors an idea of how much you’re looking for, and under what terms. The VCs will use this slide to know if they’re a fit for you, so don’t be shy.
Explain what you need and how you’ll use the funds. How will the money help you get to the next milestone? What metrics do you need to meet to make the most of that funding?
If you’ve already gone through a funding round and have investors, talk about past investors’ experiences. Ask them to provide a brief testimonial on why they invested in your company, what it’s been like, the returns, and the vision. This is especially important if the VC is well-known in your industry (a little name dropping never hurts, eh?).
12. Wrapping it all up
Your final slide wraps up the pitch in a nice little bow. This should be a memorable hook that gives the VCs a takeaway.
Definitely put your contact information here, but you should also keep VCs interested. Try an interesting image, shocking statistic, or the unexpected next step in your story.
The bottom line
Pitching ain’t easy. It’s your job to create a great pitch deck, but nerves and long work hours make it a pain to pitch right.
Stop inundating VCs with slapdash PowerPoints that don’t go anywhere. Follow this 12-slide formula to tell a compelling story and get the funding you need.