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Congratulations! You've reached a pivotal moment in your startup journey where you're ready to present your vision to potential investors and prepare your pitch deck. Too often, though, founders at this stage begin their deck by finding a fancy-looking template and then filling in the blanks.

No longer can a flashy template mask any lack of depth in your pitch. In the competitive landscape of 2024, investors seek substance over style, making it imperative for founders to craft a compelling narrative that resonates with their audience and showcases their unique value proposition.  

With numerous resources available, why do we, as individuals who review pitch decks daily, consistently encounter the same pitch deck mistakes? We're creating this post to help you avoid these errors and position yourself ahead of numerous other founders competing for an investor's attention.

Before diving into a template, challenge yourself to work through each of the following four steps, and you’ll have a pitch that stands out within a week: 

Step #1:  Know Your Audience

Understanding your investors is a key pillar to creating a winning pitch. Recognize that investors are not just sources of funding but strategic partners as well. With limited funds and high expectations from their Limited Partners, they seek to mitigate their risks with their capital. Show them how their investment will accelerate what’s already working.

Action Prompts:

  • Change the way you view investors. We see a huge gap between founders and investors, the latter often viewed as the enemy, the destroyer of dreams, and not being generous with their “unlimited” resources. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.

  • Attend an Angel or VC open Q&A session and ask them what’s the biggest challenge for them in finding the right startup. Make sure you don’t make that mistake in your pitch.

Step #2:  Clarify Your Problem-Solution-Product Alignment

You want to dive very deeply into the problem your startup aims to solve. Articulate why addressing this issue is critical and why now is the right time to solve it. Clearly define a specific target market, solidify your unique value proposition, and highlight how your product differentiates itself from your competitors. Focus on reducing your word count to create concise, compelling sentences.

Action Prompts:

  • Make a list of your audience's pains and gains.

  • Discover ways to make people care about the problem, even if they don't personally experience it.

  • Ensure that your solution is the simplest, most elegant, and unique answer and that your product delivers everything you promise.

Step #3:  Expand Your Presentation Content

Now that you have a compelling narrative around the problem you’re solving and your proposed solution, build content around the other key slides. These include your market size, traction metrics, and competitor analysis. This additional content should substantiate your Problem-Solution-Product narrative and make a persuasive argument for why your venture will be successful. Start collecting visuals that complement your narrative.

Action Prompts:

  • Consider hiring someone with advertising expertise; they can skillfully introduce the company. 

  • Alternatively, if you prefer a DIY approach, address these straightforward (but very deep) questions: Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?

Step #4:  Draft Your Presentation

Create an initial draft of your pitch using low-fidelity tools such as Figma, Google Docs, or even sticky notes on a whiteboard. Practice delivering your pitch out loud. Does it flow logically? Does it build initial anticipation and then resolve itself at the end? Pay close attention to weak spots where you have gaps in information.

Action Prompts:

  • Craft each slide to be concise and as conversational as possible. People tend to stay engaged in conversations, but they might easily tune out during a lengthy (anything above a minute) presentation.

Only once you have honed your pitch content and delivery can you explore template options.  The templates you choose should closely align with your rough sketch. Alternatively, consider engaging with a pitch deck designer to elevate the professionalism of your presentation while maintaining the authenticity of your narrative.

Taking the time not just to create slides but to deeply solve the challenges of putting them together, will not only result in a better deck for securing funding but also in a stronger company ready to scale.  

About the Authors:

Dorothy Fulop is a passionate creative brand consultant and the founder of Pitchcamp. She works with founders to create engaging conversation-like pitch decks instead of boring PowerPoint slides.  She is co-running a board game store and leads a networking series called Awkward&Awesome. She adores the National Parks, which continually inspire her limitless creativity. Connect with her on LinkedIn:  

Diane Bailey is an energetic force in the global startup ecosystem, renowned for her ability to ignite the potential in early-stage startups and transform them into venture-backable companies. She has mentored and inspired thousands of entrepreneurs to create robust business models, articulate their unique value propositions, and secure initial customers. Presently, her passion lies in equipping founders with the tools to help them navigate the complexities of the early-stage fundraising journey.  Connect with her on LinkedIn:

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