Having a project and great ideas in your head is great. Having money to finance their implementation is better. When you start to prepare a fundraiser, the question of pitch arises quite quickly. There is no shortage of examples on the Internet, but it is not always easy to make a point of getting started in this exercise. The startup pitch is a very coded exercise. In a context of multiplication of startup accelerators, and DemoDays where dozens of startups pitch in minutes in large rooms, the startup pitch has become a structured discipline, with its research literature and its experts.
To help you become a startup pitch pro very quickly, Websites Are Us has prepared a comparison of the 6 best startup pitch templates and a summary of best practices. The end of the article zooms in on “Front” ‘s fundraising and on the advice of its CEO, Mathilde Collin, to make your pitch deck a success.

Updated 04/03/2020
This article has been updated to provide you with some additional tips in the FrontApp B-Series pitch.

  • Process overview
  • Highlighting positive and negative feedback
  • As well as some additional tactical advice

Back to the definition of a startup pitch deck

Not everyone may be familiar with this term from across the Atlantic: “pitch deck”. This term literally means in London “launching bridge” and refers to the 10 to 20 pages of presentation that startups use to present their project – especially to their potential investors.

We will have the opportunity to come back during this article on the content of a pitch deck, but let’s say right away that its main purpose is to present the entrepreneurial project of the company, its business plan and more largely his “vision”, but also to make you want to know more about you. The structure of a pitch deck depends on the circumstances in which the presentation takes place. For a face-to-face presentation (a “demo day”), we will favor the visual aspect, by limiting the use of text. The goal is for investors at the back of the room to see your presentation. If the presentation is sent by email, all the presentation elements must be present in the pitch deck. In this case, we will have much more recourse to the text.

Most software for creating and sharing pitch decks by email, such as Slidebean, allow you to know the time spent by recipients on each slide.

Content of the pitch startup – Comparison of 6 classic templates

The easiest way to make you understand how a pitch deck works and to help you create your own is to show you some concrete examples of pitch decks. We will successively analyze the pitch decks of David MacClure, Guy Kawasaki, Sequoia Capital, NextView Ventures, Crowdfunder and Airbnb. Here is already a summary table that allows you to compare their respective pitch decks:

pitch startup template

The average number of slides is around 12. You can see that the content of the pitch decks is quite variable.

Template # 1 – David McClure

Dave McClure is the founder of a startup accelerator of 500 startups and was a marketing director at Paypal. He is notably known for being the inventor of the AARRR matrix, which describes the growth model of technology companies. To learn more about this subject, read our article “Understanding Growth Hacking in 5 minutes”. All that to say that David McClure was not born the last rain. His pitch deck model – “How to Pitch a VC” was created in 2009. Here is the plan of his slides:

  • Summary in seconds (“Elevator Pitch”)
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Market size
  • Business Model
  • Proprietary technology
  • Competition
  • Marketing plan
  • Team
  • Money (“Money”).

Dave McClure, in his pitch deck model, focuses on metrics and growth drivers. Remember that he is an investor himself. You can consult his pitch deck at this address.

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Template # 2 – Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki has served as advisor to Motorola’s Google division and Apple’s chief evangelist, among others. Again, we are dealing with a size. Its pitch deck includes 10 slides, which is quite short. Do not feel obliged to limit yourself to this fairly small number. Better 20 solid slides than 10 slides that say nothing. Here is the plan adopted by Guy Kawasaki:

  • Title
  • Problem / Opportunities
  • Value proposition
  • “Underlying Magic” (= description of the technology used and secrets of your product)
  • Business Model
  • Go-to-Market Plan (how you will reach your target, your market)
  • Competition analysis
  • Team
  • Financial projections and key indicators.
  • Current status, objectives, timeline and funding (a lot for a single slide!).

It is very relevant to start by presenting the problem and its solution before going into details. Guy Kawasaki is not the only one to have adopted this approach. To view the slide, it’s here.

Template # 3 – Sequoia Capital

Sequoia Capital is one of the best known venture capital funds in Silicon Valley. Founded in 1972 and specialized in the incubation and financing of startups, Sequoia Capital has participated in the financing of companies like Airbnb, YouTube, Apple, Dropbox, Stripe, Evernote, Oracle and even Google itself. We also find Sequoia Capital, as an investor, in several private and public companies in various sectors.

In short, Sequoia Capital is well placed to know what investors are looking for.

Sequoia Capital, in its pitch deck model, offers the following plan (the template is available here):

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Why now ? (very judicious slide!)
  • Market size
  • Competition
  • Product
  • Business Model
  • Team
  • Board / Advisors
  • Funding
  • Fundraising

Template # 4 – NextView Ventures

NextView Ventures is, as its name suggests, a venture capital fund. NVV specializes in investing in startups and emerging companies. The company invests in new technology and the internet.

Here is the plan of the pitch deck model that NextView Ventures offers:

  • Plan summary
  • Problem
  • Marketing Plan Solution
  • Market size
  • Traction
  • Fundraising
  • Team
  • Competition
  • Use of funds
  • “Underlying Magic”
  • Funding
  • Business Model
  • Market validation

This pitch deck, by the company’s own admission, is especially suitable for demo days, that is to say presentations to investors. Unfortunately, this pitch deck is no longer accessible on SlideShare.

Template # 5 – Crowdfunder

Crowdfunder is a crowdfunding platform co-founded by Chance Barnett. The pitch deck we’re talking about here was created by Chance Barnett himself and is called “The Ultimate Deck to Raise Money for Startups”. It was published on the Forbes website in 2014 and contains 11 slides. For Chance Barnett, the design of this pitch deck is the result of many years of experience as an investor.

Here is the plan adopted:

  • Vision and summary in a few words
  • Traction
  • Market validation
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Business Model
  • Marketing plan
  • Team
  • Financial
  • Competition
  • Fundraising

Its structure is quite original, especially in the choice of placing the Problem and Solution slides only in fourth and fifth position. This template is available here.

Template # 6 – Airbnb

Finally, we have chosen to present the pitch deck presented by Airbnb in 2009, when the company was only in its infancy. These slides are very well known, because they were used for the first fundraising of the tourism giant (600,000 euros). This pitch deck was revealed in 2011 at the Boston Startup Bootcamp. This pitch deck is particularly effective and effective in summing up Airbnb’s vision.

Here is the plan of the Airbnb pitch deck:

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Marketing Validation
  • Market size
  • Product
  • Business Model
  • Competition
  • Competitive advantages
  • Team
  • Hurry
  • Customer testimonials
  • Fundraising

Note the place given to customer reviews. This is the only template model among those presented in this article which devotes an entire slide to it. This in itself reveals an important aspect of the philosophy of the rental platform. You can view the slides here.

To summarize all the lessons contained in these various pitch deck models, we can draw three conclusions:

  • First, all of these pitch deck templates highlight the slides: problem, solution, business model, competition, team and fundraising. In other words, these are slides that you must include in your own pitch deck. These are the most important slides. They are essential.
  • Second, four of the six examples include slides: market validation, market size, go-to-market plan and pull / use of funds. You have to think carefully about whether or not to include them in your own pitch deck. Chances are they have a place in your presentation.
  • Third, slides: press, customer testimonials and summary are very rare. Devoting an entire slide to these aspects is probably not essential.

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The art of pitch startup in 3 minutes – DemoDay format

Are you in the field of preparing your pitch deck for your demo day? Wondering how you are going to be able to present your project, your company, your product, your values, your business model, your marketing plan and your financing needs in 3 minutes? That’s good, we are here to give you a few tips.

4 tips to get started

To get started, here are four things you should always keep in mind:

  • Focus on metrics and encrypted data. Investors like good ideas, but what will or won’t tip the balance is the hard data. These have the function of giving credibility to your project and giving confidence to your potential funders. The metrics must appear from the very first slides.
  • Take care of the design of your slides and try to stand out from the others on this point. A pitch deck with an original and quality design will immediately attract the attention of investors. You have to look for the “wow” effect.
  • In your presentation, repeatedly mention your website address and your Twitter account (to appear in investor tweets written during your presentation). To increase the scope of your presentation, also consider giving the URL to download your pitch deck.
  • Do story-telling. In your presentation, you have to tell a story, your story, that of the birth of your project, the story of your product. In short, you must try to “dramatize” your presentation to make it more lively and more captivating. With metrics, you appeal to the brains of your audience, with story-telling you play on emotion. You have to find the right balance between the two.

Here is how you should proceed on D-Day.

Capture the attention of your audience by asking them a question (the first 5 seconds)

To capture the attention of investors, we advise you to question them by asking them a question directly (within the first 5 seconds of your presentation). Works every time. This advice is especially useful if you are attending a demo day event during which dozens of startups follow one another. Never forget that investors are very busy people. It is not uncommon for some investors to consult their smartphones or computers during presentations. Beginning by speaking directly to the audience is the best way to “force” them to listen to you.

A little advice from Websites Are Us net
Don’t ask a question that is too complex or too rhetorical. You need to ask a simple question that the investors present are likely to be able to answer.

Follow your question with a slogan that summarizes your product. This slogan must have a bearing on the question, that it responds to the problem raised by the question. This dynamic and lively introduction (question + slogan) is the best way to immediately capture the attention and interest of your audience. Take the time to find a catchy slogan and test it with those around you.

Talk business for the next 30 seconds

If you have managed to generate attention from investors for the first 5 seconds with your question, you should keep them alert for the next 25-30 seconds. If you are successful, your investors will pay attention to everything else in your presentation. The first 30 seconds of a presentation are crucial.

How to do ? You have to get right to the point. An investor is looking to make money. To generate interest and make your presentation effective, you must answer this very simple question within the first 30 seconds: “How much can my project bring in for you, investors?” “

To answer this question yourself, you need to advance numbers. The most important is the annual rate of return. Calculate it based on the income generated in the past month. Avoid giving a forecast figure whose credibility will be lacking. You can also mention the growth of your income month after month. If you have time left (or if you cannot give the previous figures), you can highlight metrics such as the acquisition cost per user (compared with the life time value), the total number of ‘users (if significant) and the evolution of the user base month after month (if significant).

A little advice from Websites Are Us net
In the eyes of investors, the total number of users is a much smaller metric than is commonly thought. Unless you have 3 million users … The most important metrics are those related to the income generated.

Present your product from the problem / solution couple

Even if you only have 3 minutes to present your pitch deck, you should spend a moment on the problem / solution couple. An innovative product always answers a problem, that is to say an unmet need. You need to be clear about this problem and show what it really is a (big) problem. Then, you must introduce your product by demonstrating how it constitutes a solution to this problem and therefore how it meets a real market need. You have to legitimize your product and highlight both its useful and disruptive side.

Since you have to go very fast, you must tackle this step before the end of the first minute of your pitch deck, immediately after the presentation of the metrics. It is from this stage that you start talking about your product and your added value.

If possible, indicate how many people suffer from this “problem”. That a product solves a problem is good, it is still necessary that there are enough people who encounter this problem. You must speak “market”.

A little advice from Websites Are Us net
Still with the aim of capturing the attention of investors and “dramatizing” your presentation, you can bring the problem by telling a story that corresponds to a familiar situation.

By making your product appear to be the solution to a problem, you are emphasizing its benefits more than its features or functionality. This is something to always keep in mind, even outside of the pitch deck context: to make a product sell, you need to show how it is useful and what are its advantages over other products on the market. The question of features and functionality is very secondary. She doesn’t talk much. All seasoned salespeople know this.

Present your company from the angle of the business model

If you have 3 minutes watch in hand to present your project, we advise you to proceed to this step from 1m30 – 2m10 maximum. Now it’s about presenting your business from the perspective of its business model. Now that investors understand what your product is for, what problem it is, they want to know how you actually make money with it. It is no longer a question of metrics here, that is to say the question of “how much”, but of the functioning of your activity, in other words the question of “how”.

A little advice from Websites Are Us net
If your business model is complex, don’t go into too much detail. Be as clear as possible. Investors must easily understand your business model in broad outline.

You should not forget to talk about the market, and first of all about the supply side, that is to say the competition. What is the state of competition? What are you the best at? How will you succeed in wiping out your competitors? You should also give some indications regarding the demand side, i.e. the size of the market. On this depends in part the potential valuation of your business.

Finish with a quick summary of your acquisition channels. This will allow investors to get a sense of your growth potential. It’s not always easy when you’re a fledgling company to give credible growth forecasts. If this is the case, communicate around your cost of acquisition per user and customer lifespan (LTV). These metrics are very popular with investors.

The last seconds of your demo day

In the remaining 20 to 30 seconds, you need to do two things:

  • Talk about your team by focusing on the founding members. You need to talk in seconds about yourself, your culture, the chemistry that reigns in your business, your history. You have to convince investors that you are the best people who can run the business and achieve the goals you set for yourself. If you did a prestigious school, don’t hesitate to mention it. It always has its effect.
  • In the last two or three sentences of your presentation, recall the key points of your presentation. You can end with a “call to action”, by giving your email address, by offering the public a free registration to try your product or simply by offering to those who were interested in your presentation to come and chat with you . In any case, work on your last sentence, your last word.

Lots to say in three minutes, right? If you want to optimize your chances of success, you will have to train long hours and refine your slides. But the game is worth the candle!

Zoom on the deck of the B series of “FrontApp”

FrontApp is an email management platform originally incubated by efounders and then by Y combinator and launched in 2014 by two London people based in Silicon Valley. The solution allows, for example, to manage addresses of the type “much more efficiently. [email protected] “,” [email protected] “,” [email protected] ” or ” [email protected] »In multi-accounts. The platform aims to be entirely collaborative, on the Slack model to which Front is often compared. The goal claimed by the founders, who compare Front to a Gmail in multiplayer version, is to simplify the management of emails in teams. The startup is enjoying great success, with more than 1,000 large customers (MailChimp, HubSpot, LVMH, etc.) already, and has recently raised 10 million euros in funding. Mathilde Collin, who founded Front with Laurent Perrin, is a brilliant and open-minded personality, greatly appreciated by all those who have been fortunate enough to work with her. FrontApp has demonstrated a tremendous desire for sharing and transparency at all levels. We think for example of the publicly open Product roadmap, and of course the Deck that we are going to present to you.

trello frontapp

Wondering what Trello is for? We return to the operation of this free and essential software in our article “How to organize the writing of your articles like a pro with Trello”.

Mathilde Collin published an article on Medium where she shares the Deck of series A and gives us her impressions and advice on the subject. A big thank you to Mathilde and the entire FrontApp team for this precious source of inspiration for all startups!

Front is the most efficient and organized way to manage emails. You can easily manage a high volume of emails with shared inboxes intended especially for support and sales addresses. No more messy transfers and responses. Just comment on the emails to collaborate internally. Stay accountable with reminders and assignments, and save more than 8 hours per week with automations such as preset responses, direct mail and shortcuts. After a particularly successful series A, here is the presentation of series B and Mathilde Collin’s advice on the subject:

The process

First of all, why did you launch it at that time? The founders sometimes ask me, “Do you think I should get it out right now?” The framework I use to answer this question is to make sure that these 3 requirements are met before considering funding:

  • Generally feel good in the company and know where it is going,
  • Have reached the maximum you had set for the previous version
  • Needing additional resources to reach an ambitious new level

“No. 1 is the most overlooked, but the most important in my opinion. You have to be confident in what you do, so that you can project that confidence to investors and inspire confidence and respect. In this regard, solid foundation measures are by far the best thing you can have to help build that confidence (not to mention the fact that in general, being a growing and healthy business never hurts trying to raise funds). Last November, I felt good at Front, for various reasons. A few investors had mentioned in passing that they would be interested in running our B Series – and I believed them, so I decided to start a fundraising process. A few weeks later, we had raised $ 66 million. I don’t have enough experience to draw general conclusions about why it went well, but there is one thing that I am sure helped: I took advantage of my existing relationships with a partner in each of the venture capital companies, so that you can get a partner meeting immediately. Establishing these relationships has happened throughout Front’s existence, so in fact, it took me over 4 years to get this funding. Build relationships early and take care of them, but stay concise and focused (I usually meet with each company once every 3 to 6 months). “

Feedback received during the presentation

  • Having painted an ambitious vision.
  • Be in the best position to execute it.
  • Front is an “engagement system” / “work system”: people spend a lot of time in the app every day, doing a lot of meaningful action.
  • To have grown a lot compared to the money spent.
  • The results were very consistent.
  • The evolution of the cohorts is strong.
  • The average selling price is growing and larger teams are using Front.
  • The results of lead generation are promising.
  • A truly special team.
  • The companies using the product have great things to say about it.
  • Last but not least, the optimal presentation of Front Par Mathilde. Clear communication is apparently a problem for many founders. Make sure you are an expert at explaining and selling the opportunity your business represents.

Here are the points a little more negative during the presentation:

  • The average selling price is always low.
  • The self-service part of the business is not that high.
  • The gross churn rate is slightly higher than desired.
  • The net number of customers added each month is constant.

Some additional tactical advice

  • Give no indication of the desired investment. Mathilde simply asked the investors to give a fair price. This, combined with a very short process, worked in its favor.
  • Have all the data investors could ask for and send them constantly to answer the questions they had. This streamlined the process and helped maintain momentum.
  • Having done a ton of back-channeling to choose the new board member. Board members sit on the board longer than employees stay in the company: check background accordingly

If you’re looking for other deck examples, I invite you to check out this resource. Here are a few things that we hope will help you prepare properly and in the best conditions for your fundraising. There is only one thing left for you: good luck!