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What do investors want to see in a pitch deck [Answered]

It was a slow morning at our agency when I received a call from Akshat (Founder of a Fintech company & our long time client). His startup had already secured a substantial seed round. Now, Akshat was preparing for his next big leap: Series A funding.


"I've been working on my Series A pitch deck, but I feel like I'm wandering in the dark. What do investors really want to see in a pitch deck? I mean, I know my company like the back of my hand, but translating our success and vision into 'investor language' is like learning a new dialect." he said.


As a presentation design agency, we've heard this question more times than I can recall. Akshat's predicament is a common one: brilliant minds who excel at building groundbreaking products often struggle to package their vision in a way that resonates with the hard-nosed pragmatism of investors.


That's precisely why I decided to write this article. Whether you're a first-time founder like Akshat, a seasoned entrepreneur gearing up for your next round, or somewhere in between, understanding what investors want to see in a pitch deck can be the difference between securing that crucial funding or heading back to the drawing board.


What do the investors want to see in a pitch deck [Decoding]


1. A Problem Worth Solving


Investors aren't just buying into your product; they're investing in the problem you're solving. Your pitch deck should start with a clear, compelling statement of the problem that your target audience faces. It's not just about stating the problem; it's about making the investors feel the pain.


For example, when Slack pitched to investors, they didn't lead with, "We're a messaging app for businesses." Instead, they highlighted the pain point: "77% of knowledge workers feel email is ineffective for collaboration, leading to miscommunication, delays, and lost productivity."


Your problem statement should:

- Be relatable and emotionally resonant

- Have a large enough market to be worthwhile

- Be urgent or growing in importance

- Have data or anecdotes to back it up


2. A Solution That's More Than Just Better


Once you've established the problem, it's time to showcase your solution. This is your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) - what sets you apart from the competition. But here's the catch: it's not enough to be better; you need to be different.


For instance, when Netflix pitched, they didn't say, "We're a better Blockbuster." Their UVP was: "Watch what you want, when you want, without ads. We're not just renting movies; we're redefining entertainment."


Your UVP should:

- Be clear, concise, and memorable

- Explain how you solve the problem in a fundamentally new way

- Highlight the key benefits for your users

- Show how you're creating a new category or redefining an existing one


3. Market Opportunity: The Bigger, The Better


Investors want to see that your solution has a large, growing, and addressable market.


This section should include:

- Total Addressable Market (TAM): The total market demand for your product or service. Think big but realistic.

- Serviceable Available Market (SAM): The segment of TAM you can reach with your business model and geography.

- Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM): The portion of SAM you can realistically capture in the next 3-5 years.


For example, when Uber pitched, they didn't just say, "The taxi market is big." They showed that the global taxi and limousine market was $100 billion annually, and they aimed to capture 20% of that in key cities within five years.


Additionally, explain your go-to-market strategy. How will you acquire customers efficiently? What channels will you use? Dropbox's deck, for instance, highlighted their viral referral program, showing how they could grow from 100,000 to 4 million users in just 15 months, with minimal marketing spend.


4. Traction: Proof in the Pudding


"In a startup, no truer words are spoken than 'That's interesting, now show me the numbers,'" says Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple. Investors want proof that you're not just onto something, but that you've started to crack the code.


Include metrics like:

- User growth (show a hockey stick curve if you can)

- Revenue growth (actual or projected)

- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

- Lifetime value (LTV)

- Churn rate (the lower, the better)

- Key partnerships or clients


Even if your numbers are small, show rapid growth or high engagement.


For example, Airbnb's early decks highlighted that their small base of users were booking 3-4 times more often than traditional hotel guests, signaling high satisfaction and viral potential.


5. The Dream Team


Investors are investing in you and your team as much as your idea. In fact, many VCs say they'd rather invest in an A-team with a B-idea than a B-team with an A-idea.


Highlight:

- Founders' backgrounds, relevant experience, and past successes

- Key team members and their domain expertise

- Notable advisors, board members, or early investors

- Your hiring plan for critical roles


For example, when LinkedIn pitched for their Series B, they didn't just list Reid Hoffman's credentials. They showed how the team's collective experience from PayPal, Google, and top-tier consulting firms made them uniquely equipped to build the future of professional networking.


6. The Money Machine: Business Model and Financials


Even if you're pre-revenue, investors want to see that you have a clear, scalable path to profitability.


This section should include:

- Revenue streams: How will you make money? Is it subscription, transactional, advertising, or a mix?

- Cost structure: What are your major expenses? How will these change as you scale?

- Unit economics: Show that you understand the cost and revenue per user or transaction.

- Financial projections: Show realistic but ambitious 3-5 year projections. Be ready to defend every number.


Example, shopify's pitch decks were compelling because they showed not just their own revenue growth, but how their merchants' success directly correlated with Shopify's revenue, creating a virtuous cycle.


7. Competition: Know Thy Enemy


Never say you have no competition. As Mark Cuban bluntly puts it, "If you think you don't have any competition, you're an idiot." If there's truly no competition, there's probably no market. Instead, show that you understand the landscape and how you're uniquely positioned.


Use a competitive analysis matrix or a 2x2 grid to visually represent how you're different.


For Example, Tesla's decks often positioned traditional automakers as slow to innovate and other EV startups as lacking in style or performance, placing Tesla in the sweet spot of high-performance, stylish electric vehicles.


8. The Ask: Clear and Purposeful


Be crystal clear about what you want. How much are you raising? What will you use it for?


Break down how the funds will accelerate your growth:

- Product development milestones (e.g., "Launch AI-powered content optimization by Q3")

- Marketing and customer acquisition goals (e.g., "Reach 1 million users by year-end")

- Key hires (e.g., "Bring on a VP of Sales and double the engineering team")


For instance, Stripe's Series C deck clearly stated they were raising $80M at a $500M valuation, with plans to expand to 30 countries and build out enterprise features, showing ambition matched with specificity.


9. The X-Factor: A Compelling Narrative


Finally, tie it all together with a compelling narrative.


Use a consistent theme, striking visuals, and a clear flow to make your vision unforgettable. Sequoia Capital, one of the world's top VC firms, advises, "A great pitch is a narrative that's told simply and ends with an inevitability about the company's success."


For example, when Brian Chesky pitched Airbnb, he didn't just show graphs. He told a story of a world where anyone could belong anywhere, making travel more personal and accessible. He painted a picture of hosts earning extra income and travelers gaining authentic experiences. By the end, investing in Airbnb felt like investing in a fundamental shift in human connection.


Work with us

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If you're like our client Akshat, seeking external help with your pitch deck, we'd like to tell you that we have extensive experience in writing as well as designing pitch decks. Our team has crafted decks for startups across industries, helping them secure millions in funding from top-tier investors. Feel free to reach out to us from the contact section of our website.

 





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