An investor pitch deck is one of the most important documents you will create as a founder.
An investor deck, and the corresponding presentation, can help you secure funding to scale your business and build a successful, sustainable company. In this article you’ll learn about the key information you need to include, and at the end, you can download an investor pitch deck template to ensure you provide venture capital firms with all the information they need to make a decision.
How to Pitch Investors
It’s important to note that every investor will have different criteria they look for in a startup. So do your research and customize your deck every time you send it.
Also, consider that you may not want to blindly send your full deck to every investor on your list. You might be able to tell a better story and provide meaningful context as you walk them through an investor pitch presentation over the phone or Zoom.
“I would send potential VCs a one-pager that succinctly told our company story and showed our proof of concept,” says Heather Margolis, founder of York IE portfolio company Spark Your Channel, which successfully exited in 2021. “It provided enough info to explain the company, without sharing all our cards from the start. Your closing line of an email can be, ‘I’d love to take you through the pitch deck when you have some time.’”
Before your presentation, you should also prepare some questions to ask the investor. Understand their thesis and model. Do they provide passive or active capital?
What to Include in an Investor Pitch Deck
Follow this pitch outline when putting your deck together:
- Cover slide or icebreaker (1 slide)
- Problem and solution (1-2 slides)
- Company vision (1 slide)
- Company details (10-15 slides)
- Financial validation (1-2 slides)
- The ask (1 slide)
- Thank you and next steps (1 slide)
Like every good story, a pitch deck needs a beginning, a middle and an end.
The average venture capital firm used to spend about four minutes looking at a deck, but that number is now down to two minutes and 24 seconds, according to DocSend. And that means you really need to nail your introduction.
The first slide of your investor pitch should include an icebreaker — some sort of fact or brief anecdote that will grab the reader’s attention.
In the next one or two slides, provide an overview of the problem your company is addressing and how you’re going to solve it. This will naturally lead into a slide about your broader vision: Where do you see your company in three, five or 10 years?
After laying this all out in the introduction, it’s time to dig into the meat and bones of your startup.
The majority of your investor pitch deck should cover these pillars:
- Company and team overview
- Market opportunity
- Product and intellectual property
- GTM and traction
Company and Team Overview
Have you and your co-founders (if applicable) started a company before, or can you otherwise prove that you know what you’re getting into? And what about the rest of your leadership and other employees?
It’s important to show that your team has the experience — and the diversity of experience — needed to truly disrupt a market. Include relevant business successes and educational backgrounds as necessary.
You need to show investors that there are enough customers willing to pay enough money for your product to justify your target valuation.
Do this by relying on top-down research from market analyst firms and also by taking a bottoms-up approach: multiplying the expected number of potential customers by the average deal size to calculate your total addressable market.
Product and Intellectual Property
Your product is the key to tapping into the market opportunity you’ve identified. Clearly explain to investors how it works and how it’s different from other products on the market, and showcase any intellectual property behind it that investors may find particularly valuable.
GTM and Traction
Explain how you market and sell your product. Use sales data and customer stories to show that your go-to-market strategy is working. Highlight any prominent customers and key use cases to demonstrate confidence in your company.
Don’t leave your investor presentation wishing you’d said something more. If there’s anything else about you and your company that stands out, such as compelling statistics or interesting stories, include them in your deck.
Sometimes it’s these things that have the biggest impact on investors.
And at the end of your investor pitch deck, you need to demonstrate financial validation and clearly lay out what it is you’re asking for.
Investors will be looking for some proof points of product market fit, and there’s no better way to demonstrate that than with paying customers generating annual recurring revenue. Other metrics you may want to include are:
- gross margin
- monthly burn
- average contract value
- net revenue retention
- customer acquisition cost
- product usage and engagement
Investors will also want to see your sales pipeline value, but that’s typically a request made later during the diligence process.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to get to the whole point of the pitch: asking for money. Specificity is key here. Don’t just say, “We are seeking investors in a $1.4 million Seed round at a $9 million valuation.” Instead, say:
- how much you want to raise;
- why you want to raise that amount;
- the key investments you will make with that financing; and
- the milestones you hope to achieve.
Finally, make sure to end with a thank you and next steps slide. The more you can build connections with investors — even if they pass on your specific opportunity — the more doors that will open up for you over time.
Investor Pitch Deck Template Download
To find out how to properly put all these pieces together within a full presentation, click here and download our investor pitch deck template for startups.