You have 30 seconds to explain your idea, company, product or service. Go!
The elevator pitch can be daunting – but it’s the only way to grab attention without boring anyone with the details. Not that those details aren’t important, but they should come later when the audience is hooked and eager to hear more.
A pitch deck is a glorified version of the elevator pitch. It’s still short and sweet, but you have more than 30 seconds to cover the problem, solution, business plan, key financials and so on. It’s an opportunity to sell your brand or idea to the people who matter: investors, co-founders, partners, company executives and clients.
An innovative business model can fall by the wayside if it isn’t presented to the right people in an engaging way. The pitch can also make or break the deal for established companies looking to secure more business. In other words, understanding what goes into a successful pitch deck is an advantage you want to have over the rest of the crowd.
What is a pitch deck?
A pitch deck is a compelling presentation that complements the sales team’s gift of the gab. The slides provide an overview of the company’s or entrepreneur’s business plan to use during meetings with potential investors, customers and partners. Such meetings are generally held with the purpose of convincing the audience of the company, product or service value. The pitch deck helps the presenter persuade investors to share their wealth, customers to choose the company or partners to contribute to future success.
Why make a pitch deck?
While the end goal is usually to sell a product or service, pitch decks can make appearances at various meetings and events. Companies, startups and entrepreneurs might use a pitch deck to:
- Attract investors and venture capitalists.
- Secure funding.
- Seek co-founders.
- Present their business plan at a live event or pitch competition.
- Sell a product, service or campaign idea to a client.
For startups in need of financial support, a successful pitch deck can mean one priceless thing: money. A study of 200 pitch decks conducted by DocSend found that investors spend an average of 3 minutes and 44 seconds looking at pitch decks. During those precious minutes, they dedicate most of their attention to slides covering financials, team profiles and competition. A startup pitch deck that tells a compelling story on those slides can grab the attention of the right investors – and ideally convince them to write a check.
Established companies, on the other hand, can use pitch decks to continually attract new business. Much like in other marketing and branding efforts, those with a B2C audience will tell a different story than companies speaking to B2B audiences. The key is to keep the target market top of mind when developing the slide deck, making sure the problem draws on specific pain points and the unique value proposition that distinguishes the business within the competitive landscape.
What makes for a stellar pitch deck?
A great pitch deck starts by addressing the problem, usually presented in a brief statement or question. Discussing the current state of the market and sharing eye-opening statistics help emphasize the need for a solution.
Speaking of a solution, next comes the answer to the problem. This is the time for the company’s unique value proposition to shine. The slide deck will describe what the brand does, focusing on the elements that make the product or service better than the competition and explaining how the business model will drive success. The best pitch decks back up these claims with proof points, such as company achievements, industry awards and customer testimonials.
Key metrics and financials, such as a planned budget and expected revenue, should also get dedicated slides. Many successful pitch decks spend time highlighting key team members and their roles. The presentation wraps up with a clear call to action and opens the floor for discussion.
It sounds like a lot of information, but brevity is paramount when creating and presenting a successful pitch deck. You can say it all in just 10 to 12 slides, ditching the ones that aren’t absolutely necessary. The idea is to optimize the pitch deck for a meaningful, straight-to-the-point conversation.
What are the dos and don’ts of pitch decks?
If there’s a pitch deck in your future, be sure to keep these best practices in mind.
Do make it concise. Don’t load up on jargon.
The fewer the words the better! Use clear and simple language on each slide, breaking down each concept into easily digestible nuggets of information.
Avoid overloading the copy with too much jargon or complex messaging. Instead, distill your message down to the main points the audience should take away from each slide. For example, the title of a graph should tell the viewer everything they need to know before they even look at the rest.
Once you finalize the copy, make sure you use legible fonts and appropriate text sizes to enhance the easy-to-digest quality of your pitch deck.
Do stick to one topic per slide. Don’t break the rule of threes.
Aim to cover just one idea on each slide to avoid overloading viewers with information. Three is also the magic number to remember: Include a maximum of three sections of information on each slide.
Do name drop. Don’t make it all about you.
A slide of your clients’ logos can be very powerful. It shows potential customers, investors and partners that other brands put their trust in you, which can greatly boost your credibility in their eyes. Success stories and customer testimonials can do the same, proving that you’ve generated results in the past and you can do it again.
With that said, don’t solely focus on your company’s success. What’s in it for the audience? Make sure you’re connecting your abilities and achievements to what you can do for the prospect.
Do tell a story. Don’t be a bore.
Don’t forget that you’re trying to get prospects to believe in your product or service – so much so that they spend their hard-earned money on it. Weave in stories and show off your brand’s personality to truly engage viewers in your message.
Do use visuals. Don’t be inconsistent.
Be mindful of how you package your message. Use icons and other graphics to visualize data and present major points, and stick to the same design elements across the entire presentation. That includes icon and imagery styles, headers, fonts, colors and sizes. The final result should be a reflection of the company, so be sure to follow brand colors and guidelines during the design stage.
Do download a PDF and upload to LinkedIn SlideShare. Don’t send it any other way.
If you plan to send your pitch deck to prospects before or after the presentation, do so in a PDF format or via a LinkedIn SlideShare link. They’re the most universal ways to share a presentation, and you won’t have to grant viewing access or share various passwords. That way, your prospects shouldn’t have any difficulty opening the deck or sharing it internally.
Let’s get into some winning pitch deck examples
Without further ado, here are the pitch deck examples you came here to see.
We’re starting with some brand names you’re sure to recognize, meaning we know the outcome of their pitch decks. Hint: They worked. Big time. You’ll have to give most of these a break design-wise considering many were originally pitched in the early 2000s and the fonts and graphics painfully reflect their time in history. (Note: Some have been redesigned for this reason, but the original content remains intact!)
Despite outdated designs, the substance is still there and legendary status makes these pitch deck examples worth your while.
This pitch deck is so OG it features Airbnb’s original brand name. Nonetheless, it follows the rule of threes like a champ – and it’s better for it. The simplicity is enviable, especially in the opening line: “Book rooms with locals rather than hotels.” Talk about an elevator pitch!
The business model slide does an especially fantastic job at summing up the company’s revenue in a simple and direct fashion, while press quotes and user testimonials further drive home Airbnb’s promising business plan.
While the original design certainly wouldn’t impress viewers today, it does get points for consistency. Plus, you can see how the imagery helps Airbnb communicate the major takeaways in as little as two or three words. Check out how this redesign gives the icons and other design elements a modern facelift:
Notice how even though Airbnb had six competitive advantages to highlight, they’re split up between two slides on the redesign. That way, each one packs enough punch and doesn’t get lost in an overcrowded space.
It goes without saying that the pitch deck worked, securing the financial backing and customer support that Airbnb needed to become the recognizable brand it is today. As such, both the original and redesigned pitch decks continue to be favorite references for budding entrepreneurs.
The year is 2011 and social media is just starting to take over our lives. Buffer entered the scene with this pitch deck to present its social media management solution. It may not be the prettiest of pitch decks but it did something right because it raised half a million dollars for Buffer. Not too shabby, eh?
This is a popular deck to reference because of how transparent it is with the numbers, especially on the traction and milestone slides. While the design elements could be better, Buffer does use visuals to present the competitive landscape – which is still a common method in today’s best pitch decks.
Whether you love or hate the content, you can’t deny that BuzzFeed is an influential media giant. The platform made listicles a thing, and every once in a while it publishes some hard-hitting reports and content that goes viral pretty much overnight. The company’s pitch deck has a lot to do with its rapid growth.
At 21 slides, this one is definitely on the longer side, but we can learn a lot from it. It starts off on a bang with an impressive name drop, including a testimonial from CNN on the opening slide. Screenshots of various business models provide viewers with clear examples of the company’s potential to achieve major success.
Those visuals, plus concise bullet points of text throughout the slide deck, reflect the platform’s value in a straightforward fashion. The “How Big Can This Get?” slide concludes the presentation with a compelling question that inevitably attracted investors to get in on something big.
As an online tool to create presentations, it would make sense for Slidebean to practice what it preaches. Here’s one of the company’s original pitch decks:
While there are almost 30 slides, what’s interesting about this presentation is how the company provides the audience a compelling experience. Instead of just explaining the problem and solution, Slidebean takes viewers on a visual journey through their own pain points. Plus, the deck utilizes lots of eye-catching typography and graphics to maintain engagement.
While this unique deck would work well for a live presentation, other versions of Slidebean’s pitch deck are more textbook in their adherence to the platform’s modern pitch deck templates. The rule of threes is a theme in Slidebean’s templates, which allow for engaging elements like videos and animated graphics.
If you’re a fan of shopping local, you’ve definitely swiped your card on one of these readers before. Square made mobile credit card payments possible, and they sold the concept with this pitch deck.
While the graphics are reminiscent of Word Art (and the weird font spacing has got to go), the copy makes a compelling argument. Were they pitching this today, Square may choose to simplify the copy even more, but there are several elements of this deck that work well.
The pitch provides proof of Square’s credibility with some well-timed name dropping, first on the management team slide to show that the company’s leaders have impressive experience with some big-time brands. Later, there’s a slide that details Square’s partners with more powerful logos. Other effective takeaways are the values to users, key financials and reasons to invest.
Now it’s time to check out some newer companies and startups on the scene. These recent pitch decks proved impressive enough to catch the eye of investors and experts in their respective fields – as well as ours for inspo.
This secure mobile cash platform eliminates transaction fees for small retail transactions. The deck is simple and loaded with visuals, giving the audience an inside look at how the app looks and operates as a solution to a widely experienced problem.
ChangeJar’s pitch deck is acutely focused on the unique value proposition the platform offers both retailers and consumers. The claims are backed by ChangeJar’s current clientele and experienced team.
Watch the embedded video of ChangeJar’s CEO presenting this deck at last year’s 500 Startups Demo Day – a private event attended by top-tier investors, corporate strategists and press – to see this pitch deck in action.
Copper Cow Coffee
This pitch deck manages to tell a compelling brand story and hit all the major points without overloading the slides with too much text. We especially love how Copper Cow was able to weave in unique selling points – like the founder’s connection to Vietnamese culture and the company’s sustainable practices – in a subtle rather than forceful manner.
Copper Cow Coffee’s pitch deck also has a sweet and simple design that’s consistent throughout, utilizing simple elements like boxes and various font sizes to highlight headers and important statistics.
Over 2,000 stores already stock Copper Cow Coffee, but the deck appeals to investors by mentioning the opportunity to expand into offices, hotels and e-commerce. Before you know it, your office might have Copper Cow in the employee kitchen.
Front’s pitch deck begins by slaying email in its current state, highlighting its lack of collaboration. This problem is immediately followed by the solution, which is a shared inbox platform designed for collaboration in the workplace. Users can manage messages from email, texts, Slack and social media – all in one shared inbox. Front claims to be the first solution of its kind, which is a great place to be in the competitive landscape.
The pitch deck is clean, consistent and visually appealing, presented in an easy-to-follow structure. Front loads up on the graphs and statistics that speak to investors, and is especially transparent about their financials. There’s a clear long-term vision, which helps investors feel confident in the business plan.
Keeping it simple and hitting all the right points, this investor pitch deck hit it out the park, raising $66 million in just five days.
We Are Onyx
In fewer than 10 slides, We Are Onyx delivers a powerful presentation of their beauty subscription service dedicated to black women. It’s common for pitch decks to present the problem and solution before getting into the numbers, but We Are Onyx switches it up by starting with an impressive month-over-month growth statistic.
After hooking the audience with the numbers, the pitch delivers a clear and concise discussion of the problem and solution. While the background and visuals can be a tad distracting, the slides follow the rule of threes where it matters.
Watch the included video to see this pitch in action at the 500 Startups Demo Day event as well!
Throw your best pitch
When you’re ready to make your own pitch deck, you can design your slides on creation platforms like Adobe, Canva, Google Slides, Slidebean and Microsoft PowerPoint. With the dos and don’ts in mind and these pitch deck examples for reference, you have the tools to create a powerful presentation of your company, product or service.
Here’s to striking out the competition and gaining the support you need to win the game!