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Pitch Deck guide + Free Pitch Template with Visual Examples [2021]

Do you want to impress your investors and partners? Here's a short guide and a clear and simple pitch structure that will make you look like a pro!

March 4, 2021 · Jacques Nørbo

The pitch deck forms the chain on which the success of your startup hinges on. Why? Because as a new startup, you usually only get minutes, sometimes seconds, to grab the attention and convince potential investors. In other words, your pitch isn't just something that lasts a few minutes then it's over. Instead, it's your chance to make the right first-hand impression that could have long-lasting consequences. If you do it right, bingo! If not, you risk losing your chance at glory. There is a difference between a pitch and a pitch deck. A pitch is an individual presenting a business idea to people who do not know who they are or what their business is all about. The sole aim of a pitch is to get your future investors, customers, partners, and employees interested and engaged enough to pull them in and contact you afterward. It's a 'communicative fishing rod' – and as my old man always told me before the sea swallowed him up: "No matter how expensive your fishing rod is, it is utterly useless without the worm." In other words, your pitch is useless without a great pitch deck and vice versa. And that is the reason why you need a pitch deck! 🎣

If you can't wait to get started with our template - you can download it here.

An idea is only good if you can convince others that it is 💡

As a first-time entrepreneur, we know you are new to the startup culture. It is only natural that you might be wondering why a simple presentation holds so much weight and ends up deciding the success of your venture? The answer is quite simple. Every day, millions of entrepreneurs across the globe come up with great ideas that all have the potential to conquer the world:

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Some make it but most don’t. What separates the successful startups that become multinational conglomerates from the failed enterprises that end up drowning their founders' capital? The ability to convey an idea effectively.

The recipe for building a strong pitch

  • Build your narrative
  • Write a script
  • Rehearse and time your pitch
  • Build a supporting slide deck with compelling visuals (Please, don't rely on stock photography)
  • Rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearse!
  • Gather feedback from others to learn where you can optimize. Go back to 1.

Build your narrative

Your narrative serves as the backbone for your script. Start writing your script using the structure presented either in the template or the one presented later in this article.

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For each section in this template, start by writing a word or a brief sentence describing how that section translates to your business. Consider how to include best the essential elements that set you apart from your competition.

IMPORTANT! Do not even think about visuals yet. Think solely about your message and what it should be. Visuals come later. Only after your whole pitch script is done will it be easy-breezy to create supporting visuals.

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Write your script

From your narrative, you can start writing your script. It should be the EXACT lines you speak when pitching in front of a live audience, just leave out the headlines in the script. They are for you as a guide to the structure. But make sure that your script is divided into each section, creating a natural 'flow of arguments.' When you build your slides afterwards, the structure will help you select relevant visuals.

Explain it like I'm 5

Always dumb down your message. You are (hopefully) an expert in your field. Your audience is not. What is evident to you, might very well be hard to understand for your audience. So make sure to explain your ideas in simple terms. Instead of saying:  “A Microwave is an oven that heats and cooks food by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation on the microwave frequency range which induces polar molecules in the food to rotate and produce thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating.” Just say: “A microwave is an electric oven that cooks food much faster than a traditional oven.”

Select your words carefully! If a ‘simpler’ word or phrase can replace a complicated word- or term, do it, especially if you or your audience are non-native English speakers. 

Make essential and complex elements easy to absorb by comparing them to something well known. As Erlich Bachman famously said, “It’s Shazam – but for food”. An easy (and somehow elegant) way of conveying a complex concept simplistically.

The first iteration of your script tends to have the formality of written language. As you rehearse your lines, you will most likely find that you spontaneously rephrase some of the elements in your script. When this happens, you should generally change your script to fit your natural way of speaking. Your words should sound natural to your ears and to those whom you rehearse in front.

Act the part 

When pitching, you should consider yourself an actor memorizing the lines for the grand opening of a play. Rehearse your lines until you speak them in your sleep. It will ensure that you can relax on stage and concentrate on acting the 'role of a founder'—fully immersed in describing your magnificent business and its ability to succeed and conquer the world.

Remember, every part of your performance rubs off on your audience. If your pitch is compelling and you project ease and confidence on stage, your audience will put their trust in you and be able to focus on your company's purpose and opportunities. An insecure and messy performance makes them feel uneasy and draws attention to you as a person instead of your ideas. The unengaged and monotonous performance leaves people... Unengaged.

The Cuttles Startup Pitch Deck Template

In a startup, resources are scarce, and if you haven’t created a pitch deck before, and don’t really know where to start, it can seem easier and smarter to prioritize something else. But it shouldn’t have to be like that.

That’s exactly why we have created the Cuttles Pitch Deck. It simplifies the process and makes it much faster to create a pitch deck for your startup ⚡️
We’ve carefully picked each section to align with investor best practices and have stuffed the template with guides, questions and real-life examples to get you going.

Here’s a walk-through of the sections

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1. Introduction

A concise introduction. Have it include your name, role, and company name. Make your opening catchy and let it draw your audience in. But don’t overdo it with something too flashy or too humorous. Keep it sober yet exciting.

The way you begin the pitch has the most significant impact on the listener's attitude and paints their perspective for all the rest of your presentation. Making the introduction convincing can be a challenge; after all, It's tough to summarize such a great idea into a few lines, but give it a shot.

 

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2. The Problem

Make it clear what ‘problem’ and gap you have identified in the market. You must add some ‘flavor’, a little bit of emotion and ‘flashiness’ here. The listener needs to feel the problem deep down in their gut.

Any product or service is useless if it doesn't bring value to the consumer's and your customer's lives. So for your startup to have any worth as a business, it undoubtedly tackles an existing problem in the world.

In the second slide of your Pitch Deck, you must present to the viewer a short and concise summary of the existing problem that your product or service is targeting. What is it? Who has it? Why is it a problem and how big is it? Answering these questions well underlines the necessity for someone (you) to present a solution to it.

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3. The Solution

A concise statement of the value your solution offers. Write one or two sentences addressing each pain point from the 'Problem' section above. State the positive effect of your solution.

Don't confuse presenting a solution by offering your product or service. That part hasn't come yet. The first thing you did in your pitch was describing a problem. Now that we have stated that situation in the previous section, you must help your listeners understand the thought process that led to your service - or product development. In other words, you must tell them the solution you thought of, which in turn inspired the final product or service you are trying to market.

A solution is not in itself a product or service. Any solution that you imagined requires a translation into action in the form of a product or service. And before you present your product, you must present the initial solution that inspired your startup's journey. This tells the viewer your logical pathway and helps them understand where you're coming from. Remember, they most likely do not share the experiences that have led to your realization of the problem and the solution in the first place.

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4. Market Opportunity

You are pitching this whole presentation to an INVESTOR – a person whom you are trying to convince, in plain words, to give you money! And the only way to convince them of that is to show them with as much certainty as possible that they will get that money back - and then some. The way to do that is to demonstrate a lucrative untapped market that’ll let them reap a return on their investment.

No one is going to invest in an idea if there’s no market for it. To put it mildly, it is challenging to CREATE a market from scratch. It is much easier to tap into a prospective market by offering a product or service that already has a demand across the market. In this section, you must present to the investor, concisely, the size of the market you are entering and how big a chunk you believe you can take over. Remember, realism beats exaggeration!

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5. The Product

Now for your solution's deep dive description, including how it works for your customers, user-case style. Describe why it works and include a few hints on what lies 'under-the-hood' tech-wise. Help the audience understand the process that your happy customers go through. Keep this section also to the point. Avoid 'selling' and 'marketeering.'

The pitch you deliver in this section should not just present your product or service as an object of consideration; it must create a narrative that highlights your product's concept and applicability in a simple, understandable manner. The bottom line here is that you must make the viewers want your product. If the investor doesn't find a utility in the product for themselves, they will be unlikely to recommend it to others or to help you bring the product to market.

You started with a concept, now you have to bring the fireworks, as they say! This is your moment to anchor the concept, utility, and need of your product in the listener's minds and convince them of the fruitfulness of the idea!

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6. Business Model

A brief and to-the-point description of how you make money. BtC? BtB? BtG? SaaS? Per-event? Include price points and profit. Investors are particularly interested in your customer acquisition cost, as this is a key growth-inhibitor and can even kill a startup.

With seasoned investors and market experts, you don't need to go into much detail. The investor will already be familiar with most of the financial intricacies, so focus on highlighting the important things instead.

The purpose is to tell them that YOU are, in fact, also familiar with the intricacies and are not placing your hopes on a naïve concept or dream.

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7. Competitive Advantage

Whether you have found an undiscovered niche or are challenging an exciting market, your competitors should be a vital part of your pitch deck. How does your business differ from theirs? What is the cost of their product or service? Who and how many are currently using their service? What are their strengths and weaknesses? And why would customers choose your business over them? With these insights, you will present your competitive advantages.

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8. Growth

Growth is an important part of being a startup business. Why? Well without the growth of your business it is very unlikely that any investor will find your business case intriguing. Forecasting your sales can help you and investors to understand how your business advances economically. Investors are not just interested in those numbers, but also how you arrived at them.

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9. Traction

Here is where you will show any and every validation that confirms others love your product/service as much as you do. Ideally, it's sales, but it can be Letters of Intent (LoI's), sign-ups, or something similar. Keep this section completely sober. Avoid 'selling' and 'marketeering': just the facts, ma'am. 

Your investors will want to know that your startup has real potential and a viable customer base. Show that your business is going places and can repeatedly attract customers to grow profit. Therefore you should ‘hockey stick’ your investors. Image the inside, upward curve of a hockey stick: This exponential growth of your business should be reflected in your traction. How do you plan to target a customer base that increases growth over time? This is the very heart of the startup business. Show investors why your startup is already worth betting on. Impress them with your results and remember to be honest.

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10. Financials

Support your plans of growth and traction with the right financial numbers and charts. What are the key drivers of your expenses? What is the forecasting of your sales? Relying on the numbers from your traction will be extremely useful. Use it to convince investors that you have control of your finances. When presenting your finances, the best way to do it is to mix equal amounts of modesty and ambition.

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11. Team

The founding team is crucial, especially to early-stage startups. Who are the members of your startup's 'Justice League' and why are they right?  What skills, education, and merits of each founder help realize your company's vision and ambitions. Key partners can also be named here. Employees and advisors are usually of minor importance as investors invest in the founding team.

If you are Superman flying solo, you still have to plan for the positions that your business expects to hire in the future.

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12. The Ask

This section is perhaps the most important, and if you haven't created a convincing and moderated narrative till now, this component is bound to fail. So make sure you nail down the previous 11 points before asking! It is time to ask for the money. Getting the investment is the whole point of doing the pitch deck. So, address the elephant in the room.

In the last section of your investor pitch deck, you will need to tell them two things:

  • How much money you need
  • What you plan to do with that money.

You will need to present a figure that encompasses and considers all your requirements. Based on your business model, it must be sufficient to take care of the expenses that can take your product from the lab to the market. You can expect that your investors will want to know how you are putting their money to good use to drive revenue.

It is crucial here that you deliver a detailed breakdown of how you intend to allocate the resources that you will gain. Most often, this flow is redistributed based on the experience of the investor in later negotiations.

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13. Finishing Touches

This section isn't essential, but adding a finishing touch to the whole pitch can be beneficial. In this section, you can include a few key metrics that further increase confidence in your plan. These can include:

  • Projections
  • Forecasts
  • Market Analytics etc.

These metrics will solidify the ground you have gained and allow your investor to have a complete picture from start to finish of your product journey and its eventual performance in the market.

Get Started NOW!

Now that you have a clear idea and some inspiration to help you craft the perfect business plan pitch deck, you can get started and create your very own pitch deck presentation. Impress your potential investors and get the necessary funding you need to get your startup off the ground.

Remember one crucial point: always provide a high level of confidence, reliability, and provability in the data you present to enable viewers to verify your claims independently if needed. We believe in you, and you should believe in you too!

Good luck and Godspeed!