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Founders, ditch your long presentations. Here’s how to make a 5-slide pitch deckby@elena-mazhuha
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Founders, ditch your long presentations. Here’s how to make a 5-slide pitch deck

by Elena MazhuhaAugust 31st, 2022
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Too Long; Didn't Read

A recent study shows that investors spend less than 3 minutes on each pitch deck. To catch their attention and make sure they read the whole deck, make a 5-slide presentation, instead of putting together 10-20 slides. Use numbers instead of adjectives and don’t use some random stats from the internet. To estimate market figures relevant to your startup, you have to calculate potential demand for your product. Highlight how your solution is more effective than other ones on the market.
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I look at hundreds of pitch decks every month. And the longer the presentation, the harder it is for me to stay focused on each slide. And I am not alone. A recent study by DocSend shows that investors spend less than 3 minutes on each deck. To catch their attention and make sure they read the whole deck, make a 5-slide presentation, instead of putting together 10-20 slides.

Slide 1: Problem & How You Solve It

To start off the right foot, explain the problem your startup solves and the size of the problem globally. Use numbers instead of adjectives and don’t use some random stats from the internet.


For instance, if you make streaming software, there is no need to give statistics on the streaming market worldwide with their abstract figures in the presentation - they don’t make any sense!


To estimate market figures relevant to your startup, you have to calculate potential demand for your product. This number can be calculated based on the number of your potential clients and the revenues they can bring during their customer lifetime. Then, multiply the number of potential customers in the market by the check they will pay during their customer lifetime and you will get a rough number that represents the total demand for your service. This calculation is not perfect, but it makes more sense than a random number from the internet. You can learn more about this method in Sequoia’s Mike Vernal’s article “The Market Curve”.


Don't describe the problem as if it's something that everyone knows. Instead, try to describe it in a way that someone who does not work in your industry can easily understand it.


Tip: explain the problem to other people who are not involved in your industry. Do they understand it? Based on what you have heard, edit the description. Feel free to make several iterations.


Then explain to investors how your product or service solves the problem. Highlight how your solution is more effective than other ones on the market.


For reference, use problem-solution slides from Airbnb’s early-stage deck:


Source: Airbnb’s early-stage deck, PitchDeckHunt


Source: Airbnb’s early-stage deck, PitchDeckHunt


Figures that are too different from the market make an investor suspicious. For instance, if your competitors sell the same product three times cheaper than you do, there will immediately be questions about why your product is so expensive. The investor will try to find out if your solution is much better than those on the market, or if you made a mistake, or if you didn’t analyze the market.

Slide 2. Business Model & Sales

Show how you plan to earn money by solving the problem and how much you can make on each client in revenue. Mention your target geographies.


For reference use the Revenue Opportunity slide from Tinder’s deck:


Source: Tinder’s deck


Figures that are too different from the market make an investor suspicious. For instance, if your competitors sell the same product three times cheaper than you do, there will immediately be questions about why your product is so expensive. The investor will try to find out if your solution is much better than those on the market, or if you made a mistake, or if you didn’t analyze the market.

Slide 3. Numbers

Share your most recent numbers with investors to demonstrate traction and growth. Include LTV, CAC, retention, revenue, and growth.


A fair standard benchmark for LTV to CAC ratio is 3:1 or more. This is a generally accepted statistic that investors look at, but the figure can vary slightly depending on the industry of your startup and the time of its existence.


As for other metrics, investors want to see the startup grow twice as much in a year. If you don't generate revenue yet, show other metrics, such as audience growth, audience retention, beta-testing results, pilot projects results and others. But the absence of metrics in the presentation as a whole is not acceptable to investors.


For reference use 13-14 slides from the Carta’s deck:

Source: Carta’s deck, PitchDeckHunt

Source: Carta’s deck, PitchDeckHunt

Slide 4. Team

Telling about the startup’s founders, focus on years of experience, professional background, companies they worked for, and their greatest achievements— revenue figures, sales generated, exits, large clients, etc. The more concrete you are, the greater your chances to get investors’ attention.


It is also important for investors to know that the founder knows how to hire a team and attract strong talents. So tell them about your early hires. What kind of experience they have, and why do you need these particular people on the team.


Tip: make sure that founders’ and core employees’ LinkedIn pages are filled out and updated before talking to VCs.


For reference use the Team slide from Crunchbase’s  deck:


Source: Crunchbase’s deck, PitchDeckHunt

Slide 5. Summary & Round Info


Repeat your key points in one slide and tell how much cash you are raising и how you will spend it. By and large, startups require money for hiring, sales, and scaling.


As an example, take a  look at the "What We Need" slide from Zestful's deck:


Source: Zestful's deck, PitchDeckHunt

Also published here.