What does the perfect pitch deck look like?
At OpenVC, we process over 200 pitch decks per month. We even built a tool, OpenDeck, to help founders get inspiration from 1,200+ startup slides.
So we took the absolute best slides, put them together, and tried to build "the perfect deck".
A pitch deck that no investor could pass.
See the result below. Let us know what you think!
Table of Contents
Slide 1: Cover from Coinbase (Seed)
The Coinbase Cover slide is minimalistic yet impactful: company name, value prop, product illustration. No useless fluff like "Confidential", "Seed", or "January 2013".
Yes, the design is dated, but this is a deck from 2012, so fair enough.
The value prop is crystal clear: "Your hosted bitcoin wallet". When you're an early-stage startup, you have to be explicit about your value prop. Avoid inspirational taglines like "Just do it" or "The future of work". Instead, make it extremely clear what it is you're doing. Leave no room for doubt. Coinbase did a great job at that.
Slide 2: Team from Square (Series C)
This is not the prettiest slide in the lot. But damn it's powerful!
When it comes to the team, you want to show a team with experience, a team that "has done it before". That's why you not only give the names, but also the previous positions of the co-founders. In this case, we have three repeat founders (Jack, Bob, and Jim) and a senior executive (Keith) all with impressive track record leading tech companies.
Slide 3 & 4: Problem/Solution from Front (Series B)
These 2 slides by Front are exactly what you want for a Problem/Solution combo.
The Problem slide leads with the "original sin" ("Email was never built to collaborate") at the top of the slide. It then results into 3 pain points listed at the bottom of the slide: Productivity slowdown, Lost business, Bad CX. This is made possible thanks to the simple yet elegant illustration in the center. Front doesn't tell you the problem, they let you see it. And you understand it instantly.
The Solution Slide is also a beauty, because it's a combination of a "Solution" slide with a "Product" slide. Here, the product IS the solution. Productivity tools such as CRMs and note-taking apps are notoriously hard to present because they don't have 1 killer feature, but a sum of small features that all work together. Front pleasantly introduces the viewer to their wealth of features with colored labels and eye-catching zooms.
What ties the knot, of course, is the titles of the slides. "Email was never built for teams to collaborate... So we built the first shared email client." This one sentence split into two parts shows consistency from problem to solution.
Slide 5: Validation from Yalo (Series A)
The Validation/Traction slide should show that (a) you have revenue and (b) you have growth.
Yalo perfectly conveys both items. Their $2M ARR is clearly shown on the top left. Yet, it's their 42% MoM growth that you notice first - in deep black and next to a big triangle.
If you're raising funds, you should know what are good and bad metrics for your specific business model and stage. Yalo being a SaaS startup raising Series A in 2018, they have every right to be proud of their numbers if we believe the 2018 SaaS napkin.
Investors will also appreciate the revenue graph over the past year to date. Why? Because sometimes, founder tend to calculate growth over a time frame that is convenient for them. I've seen pitch deck claiming 50% MoM growth... over the past 6 weeks. Here, Yalo plays the transparency card, which is both a time-saver and a trust-builder.
Once you've validated the numbers, you look at the logos: Pepsi, Walmart, Volkswagen.... They are not just here for vanity. Selling to large enterprises means that you can handle the complexity of enterprise sales. It also means that you can upsell and cross-sell the hell out of your product.
That's a lot of positive signal packed into one slide, hence why we picked it.
Slide 6: Market from Aircall (Series C)
Most Market slides are boring - the dreaded TAM/SAM/SOM circles à la Airbnb.
Yes, you need to show a billion-dollar market. Yes, you need to show a growing market. But what if you could tell a story on top of that?
I'm in love with the Aircall Market slide because it tells the strategic story of how Aircall will win. First, Aircall will conquer its current space by cross-selling to new teams within existing clients. Second, Aircall will go upmarket by upselling to new, bigger clients. Third, and that's the kicker, Aircall reminds us that cloud-based phone systems only accounts for $10bn of an $80bn market. As they become the category leader, they can do nothing and still expect to grow at 20% a year just by virtue of "riding the wave". Definitely an exciting opportunity.
This is a highly visual slide that would work for most B2B SaaS startups - don't hesitate to borrow this layout if it fits your case!
Slide 7: Funding from Sorare (Seed)
Now comes the Funding slides, AKA "The Ask".
Most funding slides list down the use of proceeds. Yet, I've rarely seen an investor inquire about that so early in the fundraising process. In any case, the answer is pretty vanilla: tech, marketing, sales, etc.
So what do investors really care about? Momentum.
"Who else is investing? Do you have a lead? Is this a hot deal?" It sucks, but it's human.
This slide by Sorare perfectly plays on investor's FOMO:
- "Round status: full": Wow! This ship has already sailed. I've missed the boat. They don't need me. (AKA VC negging)
- ", closing May 12th": Ah! They're actually just oversubscribed, I could still squeeze in. But I need to get in fast. And I won't be in a position to negotiate.
- "Led by e-ventures": Nice, they actually have a great lead investor.
- " alongside Partech and existing investors": Damn, even more social proof, I'm sold
This slide is not only great to close their current round, but will probably line up tons of potential investors for their next round.
Slide 8: Call to action from Buzzfeed (Series A)
The last slide of your deck should be a call to action. Simple enough, yet rarely well executed.
The slide should contain the direct email address of the CEO. It may be a personal preference, but I dislike generic adresses such as "firstname.lastname@example.org". I like to know who I'm speaking with, and I would assume most VCs are the same.
So this Buzzfeed slide is just fine.
Aaand... that's it!
What? Only 8 slides?
Yes. For one thing, investors are busy. Ain't nobody got time for a 40-slide deck.
More importantly, this 8-slide deck says everything that needs to be said: you got a strong team, you're solving a clear problem, you've got validation in a large market, and smart people are willing to fund you. Wanna get in? Here's the contact info. That's it.
A pitch deck is not supposed to explain everything about your business. Instead, it's supposed to generate desire and interest, while being informative enough so the investor can qualify the opportunity, pass if it's a wring fit, and save time for both sides.
As Saint-Exupery said "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."