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Insights August 18, 2021

5 stellar startup pitch presentations from high-growth companies

Creating a show-stopping startup pitch presentation is crucial. Here’s a definitive list of what you need to include and some world-class examples for inspiration.

If your startup is in its early stages and you’re thinking about raising money from business angels or VCs – you need a pitch deck. 

A pitch deck is a short presentation of your business idea designed to do one thing: grab the attention and interest of investors. It’s one of the most crucial tools you’ll ever use for growing your startup, and its quality will be a key determiner of your success. 

Typically, you’ll walk potential investors through your pitch presentation the first time you meet, but it’s not unusual for them to request a copy of your pitch deck in advance to decide if they’re interested in your business. 

And unfortunately for startups, the pressure to nail your pitch presentation is increasing. 

Why you need a show-stopping pitch presentation, now more than ever

The good news is, investors are busy. Global venture funding hit a record high in the first half of 2021, and in Europe, the amount of funding being raised by startups continues to grow significantly

But the number of pitch decks landing on investors desks is also rising – and as a result, they’re spending less time reviewing them. According to DocSend, that’s an average time of 2 minutes and 46 seconds (as of July 2021.) 

A thousand decks are made in San Francisco alone every day, and some sources say only one percent of pitch presentations actually win over investors and raise capital. 

Couple this with jam-packed calendars, zoom fatigue and increasing competition, and you’ve got yourself a sure-fire pitch deck panic. 

But never fear! Here’s a definitive list of what to include in your startup pitch presentation, some world-class examples, and the real secret to nailing any pitch. 

What to include in a startup pitch presentation

All pitch decks are unique, but there are some key things that all investors expect you to cover in your pitch deck:

  • The problem: describe what kind of problem your product or service is trying to address.
  • Your solution: explain how your business is going to solve the problem.
  • Market size: is the problem really “big enough” to invest in solving? 
  • The competition: what are your current or potential competitors? What makes you different from them? 
  • Business model: how will you make money? What’s your revenue model? 
  • Go-to-market strategy: how do you plan to find potential customers and engage with them? 
  • The team: without the right people onboard, you’re on a road to nowhere. Share who’s on your team, and why they specifically have the right experience and background to succeed
  • Financials: explain how much money you’re looking to raise and how you plan to use it. 

Depending on the stage of your business and how much investment you require, you can include more or less information in your pitch presentation.  But as a general rule of thumb, keep it to 15 pages or fewer. According to the same DocSend study, investors spend the most time studying the pages on financials, team and competition, so pay extra attention to finessing these slides. 

Want some feedback on your startup pitch? 

Book a free open coaching session with one of our Sting business coaches now.

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Startup pitch deck examples

For a clearer idea of how much information to include, review other pitches from startups who are/were in the same stage as you on their journey. You’ll find plenty of examples online, but here are some of our favourites.

  1. 👉 Karma’s seed pitch deck

Sting alumni and food waste startup Karma used this pitch deck to successfully raise a seed round worth EUR 3.2 million in 2017. This pitch deck is a great example of how to answer the most important questions succinctly (why, what, how, when and why) and grab your audience’s attention quickly (see slide 3). 

Key takeaway: these questions are the core building blocks of any story, so make sure you answer them. 

2. 👉 Y Combinator seed deck template  

This is a simple, downloadable template for companies looking to raise a seed round. Y Combinator is one of the most successful startup accelerators in Silicon Valley and has helped launch 2000+ companies. This template is extremely easy to use and mirrors the key bullet points we outlined above. 

Key takeaway: don’t overcomplicate your story. Always strive for clarity and concision.

3. 👉 Creandum’s series A deck template

As Europe’s leading early-stage capital venture firm, Creandum knows its way around a good pitch deck. This template has a more professional look and feel and will help you understand how to visualize your story. 

Key takeaway: use visual cues to bring your story to life and set the mood for your brand.

4. 👉 Facebook’s pitch deck (Spring 2004) 

Would this list be complete if we didn’t drop an F-bomb? Old but gold, this pitch presentation is a great example of how to communicate product traction and interest, even if you haven’t completely figured out how to make money yet…

Key takeaway: using metrics and stats that clearly demonstrate customer demand and interest in your product will help validate your idea.

5. 👉 Airbnb’s Angel round pitch deck 

Short but sweet, Airbnb’s pitch deck to angel investors outlines a problem and how the company solves it in an extremely simple way – allowing the audience to grasp the concept immediately. They’ve also managed to sum up their business model in eight words. 

Key takeaway: less is more. Spend time on finding the easiest way to explain what you do, and how you do it. Stress test ideas with your peers. 

The secret to nailing your pitch presentation

The most powerful tool when it comes to pitching isn’t your presentation, it’s you. Investors need to understand your vision, but you must let your passion and your people shine through.

Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, CEO & Co-founder, Karma, says: “Make sure that you have a good convincing case that you believe in. Don’t forget that you’re supposed to believe in the business when no one else does. Be enthusiastic but not ignorant, every model has its pros and cons and knowing your weaknesses and being able to convince others on how to solve them is sometimes just as impressive as good historical growth.”

Want more advice? Here are 16 startup pitching tips from our very own pitch coaches. 

Ready to grow faster, smarter? 

Sting is the number one startup accelerator in the Nordics. Over 19 years, we’ve coached 330+ startups, including companies like Karma, Sellpy, Airmee and Yubico. Explore our programs now to find out how we can help you accelerate business growth.

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