The First Pitch Decks From Billion-Dollar Companies

Investors look at each deck for an average of three minutes and 44 seconds. Make sure you get it right.

December 2, 2015

Entrepreneurs know their company’s pitch deck is important. But it’s also one of those things they might put off. Maybe because they don’t have the graphic design expertise or the know-how to make it good.

This is not a smart move. Pitch decks are pivotal in getting investment, and why have a great product if you can’t get it attention?

Like the elevator pitch, the deck has to get the point across fast.

According to a study by DocSend, investors look at each pitch deck for an average of three minutes and 44 seconds. And companies average 40 investor meetings over three months to close a funding round.

Investors were most interested in slides about financials, the team, competition, and their “Why Now” argument, the study said.

Every deck is different, but take some inspiration from the first pitch deck of these billion-dollar companies.

Foursquare

Here’s the first pitch deck Foursquare used in 2009.

This deck does a great job using social proof that the app already has users.

Notice how the company seems highly-focused by showcasing one primary revenue source.

“It’s tempting to list multiple revenue streams because you’re trying to prove that you will be big. Yet when consumer internet companies do this, investors generally see a red flag … bad interpretation is that the team lacks focus and doesn’t understand that they generally need to drive one business model to succeed.”
Reid Hoffman, Venture Capitalist

Square

This deck adhered to the ideal length: less than a dozen slides not including the appendix.

“If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business … In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes.”
Guy Kawaski, Silicon Valley Marketing Exec

Plus, the graph shows growth projections in a way that’s visually friendly and easy to read.

Airbnb

The “problem” slide Airbnb uses here is an efficient elevator-length pitch. It gets right to the point with three main bullets that clearly and convincingly explain why the product matters.

“(Investors) will get very frustrated if instead of telling them what you do, you make them sit through some kind of preamble. Say what you’re doing as soon as possible, preferably in the first sentence.”
Paul Graham, programmer, VC

The deck also has some simple graphics that pack a punch. And I’m not talking about the kind of graphics you need a designer for — anyone could do this.

Mint

Here’s a slide from a pre-launch pitch deck that does a killer job breaking down the specific value Mint will provide its partners.

And this slide shows a number of exit strategy options that shows the company is looking ahead.

Piccsy

One of the better visual pitch decks, Piccsy is aesthetically exciting and interactive.

And at a modest six slides, it allows even the most the time-strapped investor to see what they need to know in a matter of minutes.

“(Use and lead with) the 30-second quickie, for when you don’t have time for lots of VC lovin’.”
Dave McClure, VC, Angel Investor


Here are some slides that every deck should have:

  1. Vision / Elevator Pitch / Company Purpose
  2. The Problem
  3. Company’s Solution
  4. Why now?
  5. Market Opportunity
  6. Product / Service
  7. Team
  8. Business Model
  9. Validation
  10. Competition
  11. Financials

You got this

If the pitch deck is stressing you, just take a deep breath and chill. The simpler, the better — it’s not about bells and whistles here.

If you really believe in your product and know it inside out then you’re in great shape.



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