For early-stage investors, the deck is their first impression of you, your product, and the company they’re trusting to build it. Like the elevator pitch – which founders could revise, rethink, and polish to perfection over months – every detail of the pitch deck matters. Treat the process of building a deck with the time and respect that it deserves: even when you are not present, the quality and attention to detail in the deck will say everything investors need to know about your company.
The deck’s purpose is two-fold: offer a brief, high-level overview of your company’s thesis and your business plan, and convince potential investors to invite you to the next stage of the process.
They’re some of the busiest people in this business, so a pitch deck must be clear, concise, and compelling.
If your company’s purpose isn’t obvious from your deck, investors don’t have time to call you up to clarify things. You have to get it across in a way that’s obvious, but detailed enough to be substantial for industry experts. It’s a tricky balance to achieve, but every successful startup makes it happen.
For investors, every startup is a lottery ticket: many of them will return nothing, some will return a modest profit, and every so often one will pay out the jackpot.
When they have a hundred pitch decks on their desk, they have no reason to go through your sixty-slide deck and ignore six ten-slide decks. That’s six more lottery tickets, six more chances at winning the jackpot.
So you have to respect investors’ time by making your case as succinctly as possible. The “elevator pitch” was called that for good reason: often, a few seconds in an elevator is all the time an investor has to hear you out.
Of the 100 and more decks an investor reviews, typically only ten will be shortlisted, and just one company will secure any investment. Your deck needs to more interesting, exciting, and convincing than at least 90% of all other decks startups are sending out today. Is that a bar you’re ready to clear?
Investor Deck v Pitch Deck
You should understand the difference between an investor deck and a pitch deck.
The investor deck should be sent to create a first impression, and create follow-up interest in your business. This needs to stand on its own without you talking investors through it, though it could be used on a call or meeting with investors. An investor deck should be no more than 15 slides.
A pitch deck, on the other hand, conveys your key points in a more personalised way. It should leave a shorter, sweeter impression of the business, because you’ll likely be there to talk investors through the slides and provide additional context. A pitch deck tends to be around 10 slides.
Keep reading and we’ll focus on a cross-section of the elements that feature on either of these decks, and we’ll talk you through some of the mistakes we see founders making time and time again.