Hackernoon logoThe 3 Pitch Decks a Startup Must Have — and What Should be on Them by@donnagriffit

The 3 Pitch Decks a Startup Must Have — and What Should be on Them

Donna Griffit Hacker Noon profile picture

Donna Griffit


Have Your Decks Ready-to-go at any Given Moment!

One size does not fit all — and one deck does not fit all!

A startup should have 3 different pitch decks ready at any given moment. And here is an outline of what should be in each:

  1. The Investor Pitch Deck — This is your main deck which you should start with. It should contain 4 main sections:
  • The Problem/Need/Gap — What needs to be solved that hasn’t been solved yet?
  • Your Solution — a simple description of your product, a killer demo, the benefits to the end user/s and your traction
  • The Business — Market Size/Value, Trends, Go to Market, Biz Model, Competitive Landscape and Team
  • Moving Forward — Roadmap (Product and Marketing), Future directions and the Ask

Many people ask me how long a deck like this should be. The rule of thumb? One big idea per slide. If the slide is clean, minimal bullets and a visual that illustrates it well then it’s going to do the job. I’d rather see you have a few more slides that don’t look like an eye chart exploded onto a Power Point than running the risk of crunching too much into a slide…

2. The Partner/Customer Deck — The good news? It’s also 4 parts and very similar to the Investor deck — with a few crucial tweaks:

  • The Problem/Need/Gap — What needs to be solved in their world?
  • Your Solution — a simple description of your product, a killer demo, the benefits to the them, How it works (without diving too deep technically)
  • The Business — Success Stories, Market Trends, Competitive Advantage
  • Moving Forward — If they’re interested — what’s the roadmap? What’s the next step?

Disclaimer — The first 2 decks are to be presented — not read, so make them as visual as possible — minimal verbiage. But what do you do if they ask you for a deck first?

3. The Send-Out Deck — It’s always best not to send a deck before a meeting, but if they insist on a deck and not an alternative, you should NEVER send out your full deck to either audience. OK, never say never, but please don’t. Here are the Guidelines:

  • Whittle Down the Deck — Choose 5–8 ESSENTIAL slides to send out — don’t give away everything but intrigue them enough to see that they NEED a meeting with you. (Possible choice for Investor Deck: 1) Problem 2) Solution 3) Traction 4) Market 5) Competition 6) Biz Model 7) Team 8) Ask
  • Add Some Text — While a presented deck should keep words to a minimum because you are there to explain, you must add some text to the slides so they can read a bit and understand a bit more
  • PDF It! — Do not let any documents related to your startup out of your computer without PDF’ing first. I’m not saying that a PDF makes it foolproof, but at least you know it’s keeping its format and it will be harder to copy paste chunks

Another solution is to send a one-pager or executive summary. You can use a cool format like this too :). (Disclaimer — invisu.me is my company , created to solve the send-out deck conundrum — very happy to see you try it — let me know what you think!)

The better prepared you are — the easier it will be to send it out the moment you meet a prospect — don’t make them wait while you put your deck together — because they won’t… :)

Have more questions? Need more guidance? Talk to me!

Donna Griffit — Corporate Storyteller


Need to create a stellar send out deck/One Pager? — click here

Donna Griffit is a Storyteller for Startups who, over 15 years, has helped hundreds of startups and VC’s around the world raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Need a pitch deck? Click Here.


Join Hacker Noon

Create your free account to unlock your custom reading experience.