Startup 101: What is a Pitch Deck? Examples, Tips and Templates

Maxine Buchert
January 19, 2022

A pitch deck is one of the key tools of the startup toolkit. Why? It’s because pitch decks are fundamental to scoring that funding, scoring that 1st place in a competition, and scoring your first clients.

If it’s your first time dealing with pitch decks and you’re still unclear about what exactly they are and what they include, you’ve come to the right place.

A pitch deck is a succinct presentation that is made using apps like Powerpoint, Google Slides, or Slidebean, for instance. It’s the chance to present the main idea behind your product or service. Even more importantly, your pitch deck clarifies what value it’ll bring to people.

You’ve got some main elements that every pitch deck should contain:

  • A description of a problem being faced
  • What kind of solution you’ve come up with (your product)
  • What kind of value your product gives customers
  • Who you are

Fear not, these are only a vague idea of what’s needed in a pitch deck. Towards the end of this article, we’ll give a basic step-by-step approach from finish to end to make the perfect pitch deck with easy-to-understand examples from our very own company GoStartup.

Why does a startup need a pitch deck?

Pitch decks are fundamental to score all kinds of financial help and assistance to get your startup up and running to begin with. However, pitch decks can be used for well-established startups for financial investments that would further propel them towards maybe even becoming a unicorn!

Pitch decks are not only used for getting money, but also for entering competitions! Not only might there be monetary rewards for having a great product and great deck, but you’ll get great publicity for your startup.

There are plenty of competitions across the world that give startups the chance to impress with their pitch decks for fame (and usually some fortune!). Examples of these competitions include:

  • Slush 100
  • U-Pitch
  • TechCrunch Disrupt
  • Web Summit Pitch
  • Cartier Women's Initiative Awards
  • The AIconics Awards
  • Next Founders 2022
  • Baylor New Venture Competition

Who sees a pitch deck?

Pitch decks are a fundamental way to present all the necessary info of your fantastic company. Pitch decks are traditionally presented to

  • Investors (including Angel investors and VCs)
  • Competition juries
  • Potential clients

With respect to these various groups and people, each pitch deck needs to be changed somehow to suit them. Let’s take a look at the different groups of people looking at your pitch deck and what information you’ll need to emphasise and what you should reduce attention on.

Presenting the Pitch Deck to Investors

Investors are focused on the money, no doubt about it. Both Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors are highly focused on the foundation of the company, who you are and how you’ll launch yourself into success.

The main things you want to focus on when making a pitch deck for investors is the team’s cohesion and skills on top of the financial situation. That means speaking longer about your team and putting more emphasis on current finances and projections. Being able to show you’re a long-term fit for providing society the product or service you’re promising is something at the forefront of investors’ minds.

You should be able to highlight the diversity in your team in particular and how diverse your skillset is in making an idea reality.

TL;DR to present your pitch deck to investors, you should emphasise:

  1. The cohesion and diversity of your team
  2. Financial situation and projections

Presenting the Pitch Deck to Competition Juries

Usually, this largely depends on what the competition is looking for! For most general competitions about pitching, they want a balanced overview of your product or service. However, this doesn’t really provide the clarification someone needs for preparing for a competition.

Our tips to create a smashing pitch deck for competition juries specifically:

  1. If you’ve got a time limit, split your coverage of each section of your pitch deck across the allotted time as evenly as you can
  2. Focus on the product and service more than other parts, because the novelty of a great offering makes you stand out among other contestants most

Here’s a video we made in the Slush 100 pitching competition of 2021. You can see how the timeframe given in many competitions can result in skipping past valuable information but the gist is still there:

Presenting the Pitch Deck to Potential Clients

When you come up with a product or service, getting those first few customers can feel like an insurmountable challenge but with a pitch deck, you can make your life a lot easier. Usually, once you’ve scored some meetings with people who might be interested in using your product, presenting a pitch deck can provide your ideas in a succinct and professional way.

The main advice us at GoStartup would offer is simple: people love people. Spend plenty of time describing what your product or service does, absolutely, but learn about your potential client and focus on your team element. Being able to personally connect is one of the best way to score deals, partnerships, and loyal customers.

Overall, you can take away that:

  1. Find out what makes your potential client “click” and try to utilise that as much as possible, emphasising those aspects throughout your pitch deck
  2. Emphasise the importance of the team in making the product or service possible, and since they trust the team, they’ll trust what the team produces!

What’s included in a pitch deck?

To give a clear idea of what’s expected in a pitch deck, here’s a quick and concise rundown.

  1. Find a way to introduce your company and what you’re offering
    You can start off by introducing yourself and your product, or you can find a unique way of grabbing the audience’s attention! Start off by telling a story or a single, dramatic word. That’ll make them want to listen to what you’ve got to say, since it’s no ordinary pitch.

  2. Start describing a problem you’ve identified
    Pretty much any product or service has been made to target some kind of problem the creator’s faced. You need to really nail exactly what issue target group X is facing and why. This sets the scene for the great solution you’ve come up with.

  3. Tell them about your product or service that will solve the problem
    This is your time to shine. Present your product like the single, simple solution to a big problem and lead them through the main stand-out features which make it unique.

  4. State the value proposition
    What is the value the product gives to the customer? Why would they want your offering specifically over others? You need to highlight exactly how a customer’s life would be improved if they took up your product or service.

  5. Current position
    You got any partnerships or people interested in using your product? Maybe already some customers? This is your chance to show your product or service is taking off or a genuine thing people are interested in. It shows the person viewing your pitch

  6. Predicted financial situation
    Money is on the mind of most during pitches, so you need to start wrapping up your pitch with highlighting how you plan to get revenue, and your situation with profit. Make some predictions about how many customers you’ll have in what timeframe, and what methods you’ll use to start getting a profit.

  7. Team

The team is a great place to finish off a pitch deck because it leaves the product or service on a high note: who the people are making this possible. This is a chance to highlight how great the team is and what skills they have that will make the company a success.