What’s The Best Pitch Deck You Have Ever Seen?

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What’s the best pitch deck you have ever seen? And why?

This question originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. Some questions on Quora stimulate responses and discussions that continue for years.

Answers by Duncan Knight, Alexander Jarvis, Brett Fox, Soumitra Sharma, Irina Ionova, Steve Waddell, Nik Bønaddio,
Dave Coen, and Alex Borisenko.

Irina Ionova, SMM at InnMind (2016-present)

No one will give you money or agree to work for you if you’re bad at storytelling. Every pitch — whether it’s to a VC or a sales prospect — is a story, and the best ones have compelling narrative arcs that connect listeners to a higher purpose.

I recommend you to read this exclusive article: Don Faul shares the nuts-and-bolts tactics of influential storytelling he’s learned at Google, Facebook and at Pinterest — and the three types of stories every manager and startup founder should be able to tell fluently.

Alexander Jarvis, I’ve written a template pitch deck and have the largest template collection

LinkedIn’s deck, because the quality of commentary, is incredibly informative and it is public. Pls read it!

I have seen a hella lot of decks and only a few great ones.

When founders have mastery of their subject matter it comes across. They spend a lot of time to write a short letter, so to speak. I know a lot about decks, but I typically won’t write the content for them as only great founders know what needs to be said. There needs to be an insight in them that an outsider simply doesn’t get. Sure I can bring the horse to the right watering hole, but the horse needs to do the drinking.

Founders starting companies Rocket Internet-style can’t write the “best” decks because they don’t have an emotional attachment and level of comprehension of the industry and business.

I have the largest collection of publicly available decks on my blog, but I think most are crap tbh. Sure they look pretty and pass muster for a first meeting, but they aren’t great. The best ones aren’t available, and I will never share a deck a founder sends me. I want to ask founders to ‘release’ their decks to help the community, but haven’t gotten round to that molehill of effort yet.

My advice is to go through all of these: Collection of pitch decks from venture capital-funded startups to learn what a deck looks like, and then write your own. You need to tell a story which covers defined points, but in your style. If you really are a great founder, you know and love your industry and with guidelines, know what to say with the right level of detail.

Looking for a perfect bullet template simply isn’t out there. Different stages, models, industries etc.

But to answer specifically, the best decks:
# illustrate the founders know everything about their business and demonstrate their expertise in a simple fashion (insert that Einstein quote)
# founders are connected in the industry- experts
# have social proof – won awards (investors are lazy)
# tell a compelling story – take you on a journey
# Address the key questions – team is the best for THIS job (actually is), big market (bn+), your solution is 10x better and defensible in some manner, you understand and define the problem well (it is painful)
# team have execute with the resources they have – there are results! Getting 10k uniques with 5m funding is a joke right?
# your LTV is 4x > CAC (in most cases)- i.e. business model works and you tested channels such you think you know scaleable acquisition channels
# product is good and pretty! no joke, these days it matters
# you truly understand your customer

When a founder has done a good job, writing a deck is easy. Otherwise it takes a long time to put lipstick on a pig.

Brett Fox, Former CEO @ Touchstone Semiconductor

The best pitch deck I’ve seen that’s been publicly released is LinkedIn’s (LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock).

What I love about it is maybe not so much the content, but Reid Hoffman’s commentary about what he was trying to do and what he would do different.

But, you really don’t have to go beyond the first slide. The first slide is the most important slide in your presentation.

You want to do three things with your first slide:

A. Tell your audience who you are.

B. Tell your audience why you are going to win.

C. Tell your audience how big the opportunity is.

And you’d better tell your audience why you’re important fast.

You have maybe seven seconds to get your point across. You run a huge risk of losing your audience if you don’t sell your audience quickly.

Whether you agree with Hoffman’s premise or not, it’s clear, right from the start, what LinkedIn is (was) about.

And that’s the point. Don’t slowly move your audience towards why you’re going to win. Wait till slide six and your audience has moved on.

That’s the art of a great pitch deck.

It looks so easy, doesn’t it? But it’s hard work to get those three points (who you are, why you’re going to win, and how big the opportunity is) quickly understood by your audience.

Soumitra Sharma, works at Quixey

In my VC experience at IDG Ventures, the best pitch deck I ever saw was of Forus Health, a global medical device company in the ophthalmology space. I sourced the Series A deal for the firm, and also participated in the B round.

Forus’ deck was just the right length (around 12-15 slides). It hit on all the key heads an investor would look for, interspersed with pictures of on-field installations, retina images and patients being screened. It presented powerful market data on avoidable blindness (importantly, communicating it to be a large and global problem), and highlighted the pedigree and extensive healthcare experience of founders (not to mention, a rockstar medical advisory board).

The Series A deck was so good that even post-investment, wherever I witnessed the CEO presenting it (e.g. to our LPs, potential business partners etc.), it would charge me up again and ‘re-convince’ me that we have a winner on our hands.

Steve Waddell, former Risk Manager/SME, Aircraft Carrier Programs at Newport News Shipbuilding

Do yourself a favor, and buy this book: “Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of Your Dreams.” (Evan Baehr, Evan Loomis: Books.)

I did, and it was worth it (note – I have zero relationship with the author).

Why do I recommend it? Because it has a multitude of REAL pitch decks in it, some of which have raised in excess of $100m, and it shows how much they raised, from how many different investors, and what part of the country the investors are from. Where else can you find all of that?

For pitch deck efforts, it will probably be the best $20 you’ve spent. And if you don’t believe me, look at the 99 reviews, 95 percentof which are 5-star (as of today, June 7, 2017).

Nik Bønaddio, CEO of numberFire

Not an angel investor, but NextBigSound’s deck was the model from which my company’s initial deck was conceived, as well as many other companies in our cohort.

Dave Coen, worked at Venture Capital

LinkedIn’s Series B Pitch to Greylock: Pitch Advice for Entrepreneurs

Alex Borisenko, excited about the future

Here’s a cool collection of Startup Pitch Decks that raised over $400M that I found a while ago. There are great examples of successful presentations, including notable ones such as the AirBnb and Buffer decks.

Duncan Knight, Co-founded 2 tech startups, love to share my experience

Are you looking for a good template or format to follow? I wrote this recently, which includes some:

First off, do you need investment to grow? It’s time-consuming and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. You or a co-founder will probably need to dedicate several days per week; can you accord the time?

Try and speak to others in your field who have been successful in gaining investment. Hear it from the horse’s mouth. They can also be a good source of prospective investor contacts.

Start building relationships with investors ASAP, not when you need the money. It typically takes a long time to gain investment (3-6 months+). You can also gain valuable insights into what investors want to see in an investment deck. This is especially valuable if you have an idea about the investor you want to work with already.

Join a business accelerator like The Accelerator Academy who will teach you the process, or speak to an advisor who can help reduce the amount of time needed to get to an investable state.

As a startup, your investment proposition is going to be as important, if not more important as your website, so consider the resources you are going to need to produce a really solid visual story. Do you have access to a designer to create your brand assets and deck template? There are plenty of freelance specialists available who can help you, once you have the detail.

Deck components

You may have two versions of a deck:

  • Your pitch deck. A highly visual presentation. The amount of content will depend on the time you have to pitch, but typically this is 10-12 slides that you will present to investors.
  • General investment deck. This will be more lengthy and used to leave with investors or that you will send to people to attract them to meet you. It will include additional information such as appendices and comments on the slides so investors will be able to understand without you being present. It may contain 10-30 slides, depending on what you’re communicating

Generally speaking, a deck should include the following sections:

  1. Cover page – include your company name and Unique Value Proposition
  2. Team – what is your USP as a team
  3. Problem – what is the issue to be fixed
  4. Market – what is the opportunity for your business
  5. Solution – how you will solve the problem
  6. Business model – how will you make money
  7. Competitors – who are they and what impact will / could they have on you
  8. Financials – look 2-3 years out of seed investment
  9. Achievements – what have you built, sold, accolades gained thus far
  10. Investment opportunity – what are you offering? What is the runway?

I’d also recommend searching for examples of pitch decks that have been previously successful (as opposed to a template). You’ll see the variations which will help you create your own unique story. Polinzer created a great template, which is a good place to start.

This question, “What’s the best pitch deck you have ever seen? And why?” originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

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