How to order the slides in a fundraising deck
Building a deck. Ordering the slides. Key points to highlight.
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There are a zillion ways to build a pitch deck. But as an early stage founder, you don't have time to explore all the zillion ways and pick the best one. The goal of a pitch deck is to get the reader excited. The reader should walk away with a clear understanding of who you are and why you’re interesting.
If you're building a pitch deck for an Enterprise SaaS product, I recommend having 13 slides in the following order:
Slide 1: Title slide with your logo and one-liner
Logo should be clean. Use a good image. Make sure it’s not blurry.
Your one liner should be blunt and simple
Use plain english in your one liner. Don't try to be cute or clever here. Don't use abbreviations.
I once saw a one-liner that said "Optimizing the cloud". In what way? And for whom? Vague one-liners are a turn-off. If you're a SaaS product that automates the work of labeling images, just say that and make it obvious. You can figure out how to be aspirational once you are a much larger company.
Slide 2: What's the status quo
Instead of talking about the super-obvious macro problem, talk about the status quo solution to that problem.
People go on endlessly talking about things that everyone knows. Don’t waste precious real estate here.
Everyone knows that cybersecurity is a problem. Or that more unstructured data is being generated each day. What do customers use today to solve this problem today? THAT'S the status quo you're addressing.
Slide 3: Why is the status quo bad
Now that you've established the status quo, highlight its shortcomings.
Why is the customer's current way of solving the problem bad?
Make it easy for the reader to understand. Don't list a bunch of reasons. Just pick the top reason. You don't need the second one.
Slide 4: How does your product solve it
You’ve now established that the status quo is problematic. You now need to talk about how your product solves it.
Make it visual and show how your customer will interact with your product at a high level
You can show it in the form of a diagram. You can have 3 bullet points on the side to explain how it works.
Slide 5: Show the competitive landscape
Don’t insult your competition. You think Salesforce's UI is terrible? Fine. But their 2021 annual revenue is $21B and they’re still growing at a rate of 24%.
Map out your competition and position yourself on this landscape.
You are the creator of this landscape, so you can do whatever you want. Just identify the gaps in their offerings and show you are going to wedge into this market.
The goal is to show that a product can exist in this gap. And that you’re that product.
Slide 6: Customer traction slide
If you have customer metrics, show them here and make it graphical.
If you're doing Enterprise SaaS, you might not have much to show here in the early days. In that case, just summarize what you learnt from the customer interviews.
Be as specific as possible. Make the findings interesting.
Slide 7: Customer love slide
Gather feedback from customers and show how they've responded. Ideally you want to show that customers care about solving the status quo.
You need a few enthusiastic customers who would be willing to pay.
Slide 8: Product architecture
This is a diagram of your product architecture. Don't use too much verbiage on this slide.
Show how a customer would use your product. If you're a data product, show how the data will flow within the product. If you’re a devops product, show how your tool will interact with their environment.
Slide 9: How is the product being used
You need to list a few use cases to explain how your product is being used. Or could be used.
What type of problems can customers solve with this product?
This will help the reader understand how it’s actually being used in the real world.
Slide 10: Bottom up market sizing
I've seen many people trying to be clever or sophisticated here. TAM? SAM? Or maybe SOM? Don’t fall into that trap. Keep it simple and do bottom up sizing as shown below:
Your annual price X Number of potential customers = Market size
If you want to be a bit more granular, you can separate out small/med/large customers. You can compute the market sizes for each segment and sum them up to get the total market size.
Slide 11: Team slide
Use a professional headshot. It's cool that you went scuba diving that one time, but you don't need to show that here.
Have 3-4 bullet points to showcase your achievements. It's okay to brag. The goal is to generate excitement here. Show that you're a builder and a hustler.
Slide 12: Use of funds
Lot of people leave this slide out. Or treat it like an afterthought.
If somebody wants to invest in your company, they would want to know how you'll spend the money. What do you plan to achieve in the next 6-12 months after getting funded?
It's not the exact plan that matters, but the process of planning is really important. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "Plans are useless but planning is indispensable".
Slide 13: Thank you slide with your contact info
Keep it simple. Put in your name, email, and phone number. The reader came all the way to the end. Congratulations on making it this far.
Where to go from here?
This post is meant to provide direction. Use it as a starting point, but add your own touch as you go along. At the end of the day, you need to build a deck that's uniquely you. The core elements of good slide decks will remain the same. Simple, crisp, and clean.