What Is a Pitch Deck? How to Attract Investors in 2020

The ideal pitch deck is the one catered to your audience. You need your pitch deck to convey why you are a great option for investment in a concise, powerful way that resonates with potential investors. 


But there’s much more to it than that!


This will help you secure the investment your startup deserves.


Catch Investors’ Attention


You need to understand what the best angel investors are looking for in a pitch so you can give it to them. A great way to do this is to study legendary pitches that helped products and brands get off the ground.


When Facebook started out, it was a small website providing an online community to a single campus. With investor pitches, this all changed. The reason? They had a killer pitch that conveyed the power of their product easily, capturing the attention of investors with ease.


This Facebook pitch opened with a quote from a local newspaper about the effect it was having on students: “Classes are being skipped. Work is ignored. Students are spending hours in front of the computer in utter fascination. The Facebook.com craze has swept through campus.”


This opening statement set the tone for the entire pitch, making investors sit up and take notice, helping them to understand how Facebook’s product was a must-have experience for students. Investors want to know that a product is desired by people, captivate them with this.


Don’t Bore Investors In a study of 200 leading pitches, the average time spent by investors on a pitch was just 3 minutes and 44 seconds. This shows how the window of opportunity for engaging with investors is so small.

Investors, especially partners from Venture Capital firms, read and listen to pitches on a constant basis. It can be difficult to stay engaged with so many projects flying by. The last thing you want your pitch deck to do is bore them. The ideal pitch deck must engage investors. Facts and figures are necessary to bolster your points and show your marketing data and financials, but if they are long-winded and crammed onto a single slide, investors will switch off. The takeaway here is to present your financials and other data in a readable, accessible way. This presentation by Sickweather, an app that predicts where you are likely to catch a cold, presents its stats in an eye-catching, simple way. The ideal pitch incorporates this type of powerful presentation of information. Two Types of Ideal Pitch I always advise entrepreneurs to have two pitch decks on standby: One to be read, the other to be seen. A key way to captivate and engage investors is to understand the difference between the way investors will interact with your pitch. This is usually by email or in person. 

Reading a pitch is very different from watching it, and some investors will prefer one format over the other. If you have the option, an in-person presentation can be the most effective, but it all depends on how your proposal is presented. As the Harvard Business Review puts it: “Communication isn’t as simple as saying what you mean. How you say what you mean is crucial.” There are, then, two ideal pitches you will need to have prepared, one to be read and one to be watched. The Ideal Pitch Deck for Email If your pitch deck is to be read, then it will be sent via email or as an online document. The trick is, to learn how best to structure your pitch so that your information works best for that format. An excellent example of a pitch deck you can send to potential investors is Peter Thiel’s fantastic blueprint. Peter is the co-founder of Paypal and so his structure for the ideal pitch deck should be taken seriously. He has created a brilliant pitch deck template for you to follow.

Peter Thiel’s structure includes the following sections:

  • Cover: Like the Facebook pitch we mentioned earlier, this section can have some quotes from reputable sources about your product to set the tone.

  • Problem & Solution: Here, you summarize the issue potential customers face and how you are going to solve this problem for them.

  • Team: A quick summary of who you and your team are, perhaps with some information about any relevant personal achievements.

  • Product: Your product slide should show investors what your product is and how it works by “solving” the “problem”

  • Market: An outline of your marketplace niche, its size, and growth. This lets investors know about the potential for your product. 

  • Opportunity & Competition: If I have a criticism, it’s that this section could repeat information from the market slide. However, Thiel suggests that it should be used to outline the size and scope of your competitors alongside the size of the market.

  • Barriers to Entry: Such an important slide. Here, you’ll show investors which hurdles you need to overcome in order for you to establish yourself within the marketplace. 

  • Funding History: This will help investors see who else has backed you financially. If it’s a reliable investor, this can show new investors that your product is in safe hands.

  • Future Prospects & Vision: Peter Thiel recommends that the vision of your company should be stated here as well as a statement of potential.

  • Contact: Along with your company’s contact details, this slide can also provide a link to your data room, so that investors can scrutinize the information in your pitch deck more closely.

  • Financial Model: Here, you should include projections for the next 3 – 5 years. It’s likely that an investor will want to exit during this time frame. 

Peter Thiel’s pitch deck is an excellent template, especially if your investors are going to read your pitch rather than watch it. You’ll notice that a pitch deck like this contains far more explanatory text. That’s because you aren’t going to be there to clarify immediately.

Even though text is used more widely, try and keep each point concise and persuasive. A wall of text will put investors off from reading. I highly recommend checking out Peter Thiel’s template, with more in-depth pitch deck analysis available.


The Ideal Pitch Deck for Presentation When you are going to use your pitch deck as part of a presentation, the information you are conveying is the same, but in a different way. Your presentation slides will be used to convey pieces of information through bullet points and graphs, but anything more expansive will be delivered by you. I’ve previously outlined how you can learn to make the ideal pitch deck for presentation. Many of the same principles apply. The structure is slightly different:

  • The Problem

  • The Solution

  • The Market

  • The Product

  • Traction (existing sales, progress, etc.)

  • Team

  • Competition

  • Financials

  • Amount Being Raised

These 9 steps can be found in one form or another within Peter Thiel’s structure. However, for the ideal pitch deck, I believe that condensing things down to between 10 – 20 slides are essential for a presentation in person.

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