It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time founder or a serial entrepreneur — effective storytelling is key to raising startup capital. After all, fundraising isn’t exactly something you can delegate. That’s why it’s essential to know how to craft a winning pitch deck. By closing a fundraising round quickly and efficiently, you can get back to what really matters: building your business.
Being prepared with the right pitch deck structure can free up your time and mental space to focus on your fundraising strategy. In this article, we’ll walk you through the nuts and bolts of building a pitch deck — slide by slide — using successful startup decks and popular template examples as a benchmark.
6 essential components of a pitch deck
No matter what stage of funding your company is at, your pitch deck will need to cover each of these topics:
- Your mission or vision
- The problem you’re solving
- The market size of the opportunity
- Your product — and what makes it unique
- Traction and revenue
- Evidence that your team can execute
Your pitch presentation should also back up each topic with hard data and insights, and show proof that people are willing to pay for your product. The goal is to strike a balance between providing evidence that instills investor confidence and piquing their interest with the vision for your business’s future.
How many slides does your pitch deck need?
The best pitch decks are concise and use just a single slide to explain each topic. That said, it's important not to cram too much information onto each slide. You don’t need to limit yourself to a specific number of slides — but aim for 10 rather than 40. More importantly, be empathetic to your audience and consider the time it'll take for them to absorb the information.
Remember, the people who are in the room when you present will have a different experience from those who view the deck async. You can prepare two versions — one pared-back version for presenting live and one version with more written commentary, or a recording of you presenting to send as a pre-read or follow-up. If you have any other detailed examples or notes, you can add an appendix for reference to keep the number of slides manageable.
The anatomy of a great pitch deck: Slide by slide
1. Title slide and memorable one-liner
Your first few slides are crucial — they’re how you’ll create a good first impression. So make sure your cover slide is polished and your tagline is both catchy and descriptive.
This pitch deck from finance, baby! includes a great example of a title slide that’s simple, yet memorable. It introduces the company with an intriguing one-liner.
2. The problem you’re solving
Many of the best pitch decks dive straight into the problem. This gives the audience a clear starting point and helps put them in the shoes of your target customer. It also primes them to appreciate the impact of your product.
Usually, the context slides also get into the more human side of the story. This startup pitch deck template visually highlights a typical user’s pain points. You can even add photos or diagrams, a persona, or a video of an actual customer.
3. Market size and market fit
The next natural step in your story is to show the scale of the problem — and of the market opportunity. This second context slide should show data that indicates the size of your target market, the scope of the opportunity, and what returns potential investors can expect to get if they invest.
The last part of this section needs to explain why no other solution adequately addresses the problem right now. This sets your audience up for the next section: your product.
4. Product and business model
It’s time to introduce your product. After the initial elevator pitch, some slide decks focus on the product’s key features to elicit an aha moment from investors like this slide from the VC pitch deck template.
The business model slide builds on the provided market context and the product’s unique value. It connects the two to show how a company will make money from potential customers — and why this particular business model best fits the product offering and customer need.
5. Traction and revenue
Your slide deck needs to prove that your business plan is not just an abstract idea but a viable, valuable strategy. While early-stage businesses (and even later stage companies in some industries) may not yet have revenue, there are other ways to show traction. These might include financial projections, user numbers, waiting lists, or early product engagement.
The bottom line is, you need to demonstrate that people are interested in the product — and that they’ll be willing to pay for it at some point.
Also be sure to include social proof: adoption by known brands, strategic and media partnerships, awards, press, and investment from recognized VCs or angel investors.
6. Your team
It’s time to dedicate a slide to your awesome team. Use this slide from our async pitch deck template to demonstrate your founding team's unique advantages — and what they can deliver. It could include information about any prior companies your team has founded as well as relevant industry experience.
Fundraising stages: Key points to highlight
Every pitch deck should tell a company’s story and convince the audience to come on board. But the stage of a business can change the way the story is told. We’ve highlighted some key points to focus on for each of the fundraising stages below:
- Pre-seed and seed-stage: Focus on the founding team, market size, business plan, unique product solution, and social proof.
- Series A: Showcase the team, unique product value compared to the competition, and early traction.
- Series B and above: Demonstrate your traction, performance metrics, go-to-market plan, and ongoing product vision.
Win your next fundraising round with these pitch deck templates
Once you begin sketching out your key slides, you’ll have a clearer picture of the materials you already have and the gaps you still need to fill. Remember, fundraising is an iterative process. Even after you’ve signed off on your pitch deck, you’ll likely need to update it with new information or tailor it to a specific audience in the future.
You can use this to your advantage. When you start pitching to investors, their responses will inform how you improve your slides — you’ll tighten your storyline, remove unnecessary text, and add the data your audience consistently asks for. By integrating your learnings from this feedback loop into your deck in real time, you’re sure to land that term sheet offer faster than ever.