Googling up “pitch deck template” will probably yield over 10 mln results (depending on your language and location). It’s quite a pond to fish from, isn’t it? If you’ve had an experience of being interviewed by investors or of actual pitching to them, you probably won’t see the task of writing a descent pitch deck so challenging. But if you’re a novice and getting down to your first investor’s pitch, you’ll certainly feel as frustrated as I had couple of years ago. On the other hand, even if you have already successfully raised a round or two, you might feel prompted to find out are there any new trends. Or the same old “problem-solution-traction-team-future” structure is still your best bet?
What exactly are we talking here about? Well, the “problem-solution-traction-team-future” structure was considered to be the winning (if not compulsory) structure for a perfect pitch deck for many years. Meaning, firstly, you had to introduce your problem. For example, this is how AirBnB stated the Problem in its legendary Pitch Deck.
Secondly, you were supposed to get straight to the Solution, as in this use case graciously provided by Front — a shared inbox software company. If you’re not familiar with it, I advise you to go and check it out. Front is considered to be one of the most successful startups in terms of raising, and their first Pitch Deck for Series A round is widely discussed at various entrepreneurship courses.
To sum up, the solution for the problem you had presented in the first slide, was supposed to be straightforward, easy to understand and give a glimpse on your technology or/and the market.
Next was the Traction part. Sure enough, for early stage startups it is one of the most tricky slides to compose. What traction can you show if you have not gone far from the ideation stage? Anticipating this particular problem and its importance, we’ll still have to postpone the discussion on the subject for later articles. However, let’s stress that it was supposed to be the right place to put your customers reviews or at least through in some recognizable names. Like, for example, in this Front’s slide.
There used to be a heated argument about the Team slide: should it go first, even before the Solution. Or is it better to place Team slides after the Traction part? The general understanding was: if you have a really strong team to showcase, — like, for instance, YCombinator/ Stanford/MIT alumnae, co-founders with multiple exits, or Elon Musk as a chief advisor, — than go for it with a full blast and put in on your “book cover’. Perhaps, investors will not even look through the next 20–29 slides. On the other hand, if your team consists of passionate, talented, bright but not yet recognizable people, put the Team slide in the middle and try to highlight the history of your interconnections (for example, the projects you’ve done together) instead of personal achievements.
Finally, the Future. Slides describing your startup’s future were supposed to be the most details-rich ones, describing your financial growth and plans to scale in the nearest 5 years. Here, the most important messages for the founders were the following: