The Anatomy of a Winning Pitch Deck


What’s a pitch deck?

Simply put, a pitch deck is a presentation that founders and entrepreneurs put together to showcase their business offerings to potential investors to back their vision and aid growth. This is typically a slide-based presentation mostly ranging between 10 and 20 slides.

From an investor perspective, a few things quickly speak to the reviewer. They include:

  • Understanding the mission: Mission statements are often generic, it’s important to be deliberate about concisely conveying the mission.
  • The Team: How much relevant experience does the team collectively have in solving this problem?
  • Clarity of thought: Without getting any external help or before founder engagement, the pitch deck should provide insights and optimize for easy understanding.
  • Coherence: This simplifies the pitch deck and showcases consistency.
  • Template and Design: This should aid readability and should be well structured.

What do investors look out for in founders?

  • Domain expertise: While building is great, it is fundamental to have at least one co-founder with domain expertise — someone who’s been in the field for a while, belongs to relevant associations, has a strong network in the particular field etc.
  • Operators: This speaks to companies they’ve worked in before branching out e.g., worked in e-commerce, logistics, supply chain then starting a B2B retail platform.
  • Grit: The founder(s) work ethics over the years.
  • Learning and Development: For new domains, founders who show commitment to learning about the new field and landscape. This expresses itself in many ways like completing courses, taking boot camps to upskill, sharing knowledge as they acquire across their platforms etc.
  • Cofounders who complement each other.

Who should be working on the pitch deck?

It is advisable to leverage team efforts and individual strengths.

  • The founder(s) should give a framework/sketch for the pitch deck — this could be a memo, a voice note, a black and white document, or a list of nuggets etc.
  • This should be reviewed by the Communications Team for appropriate articulation and effective storytelling.
  • Further review can also be outsourced.

As a founder, what should you include in your pitch deck?

  • The business offerings
  • The business model
  • The problem identified by your startup
  • The solution (how your startup intends to solve the problem)
  • The Team
  • Milestones thus far
  • The market it operates in
  • Customer journey (how it works from start to end)
  • Financials
  • Why the investor should invest in your startup.

Who should be presenting a pitch deck?

It is key to note that investors only move forward with what they understand. Even as founders, it is key to identify who on the team has the upper hand in communicating effectively.

It is worth it to allow the charismatic person on the team who helps dozens of customers understand what the business is about or the co-founder who’s better at public relations to take the lead with the presentation.

A super founder builds and also knows how to tell the story. This is something that can be learned over time after identifying the gap and putting in the effort to sharpen effective communication skills.

While this is not an exhaustive list, what remains a priority is to focus on what your startup can do and tell it well with your pitch deck.

This discussion was part of our monthly AMA Sessions joined by Ife Ojobanikan, Investment Principal at Berrywood Capital and Nubi Kay’, a Managing Partner at HoaQ. You can watch the video here.