Posted on
January 8, 2024
min read

What Is a Pitch Deck? [A 2024 Essential Guide for Startups]

Maximilian Fleitmann
Maximilian Fleitmann
Co-Founder @ BaseTemplates
Author Twitter

Did you know that only 10% of all startups ultimately find success, with just 55% making it past the first 5 years?

To secure funding and join the ranks of successful startups, mastering your pitch deck is crucial.

But what is a pitch deck, to start with?

The BaseTemplates team has put together this in-depth guide to define what a pitch deck is, its major elements, the best practices for building an effective presentation, and more. Join us as we dive into the world of this important presentation!

Pitch Deck: What Is It?

What are pitch decks?

Pitch decks are the visual presentations entrepreneurs create to showcase their companies to investors and gain their financial support. Decks typically contain slides highlighting information like your business plan, financial projections, target market, product details, and team bios.

Why You Need a Pitch Deck

As an entrepreneur, a solid pitch deck is essential for raising funds/capital from investors. In fact, according to DocSend, investors spend an average of 2 minutes and 24 seconds reviewing a pitch deck. That means you have a very short window to make a great first impression and convince investors your startup is worth funding.

A pitch deck allows you to visually and concisely communicate your business plan and growth potential to investors. It should be a balanced yet compelling overview of your company that leaves investors excited about the opportunity. Create a visually engaging deck that highlights key metrics and milestones and has a clear call to action for investment.

Overall, a compelling pitch deck is essential for startup fundraising and educating investors about your business idea. While understanding the meaning of a pitch deck is important, focusing on including the key elements will increase your chances of securing the funding/capital needed to scale your business. We’ll highlight these key elements in the next section.

5 Key Elements of an Effective Pitch Deck

To be effective, your pitch deck should cover the key elements that will determine if your startup is viable and worth funding or partnering with.

The best pitch decks include the following:

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Traction
  • Team
  • Market

1. Problem

Start by clearly defining the problem you’re solving. Back it up with statistics or examples to demonstrate the need.

For example:

“Over 60% of small businesses spend more than 4 hours per week on manual expense reporting, costing the average business $50K per year.”

2. Solution

Explain your innovative solution and how it addresses the problem. Focus on the key features and benefits.

For example:

“Our AI-powered expense reporting software automates the entire process, saving small businesses time and money. Business owners simply snap photos of receipts, and our system automatically generates expense reports.”

3. Traction

Show how you’ve validated your solution and gained traction. Provide metrics around customer growth, partnerships, revenue, or key milestones.

For example:

“We launched our beta 6 months ago and already have over 500 monthly active users. We’re on track to hit $500K ARR this year.”

4. Team

Create a team slide to highlight the experience, skills, and passion of your founding team. Discuss key hires you plan to make, too. Investors are betting on the team’s ability to execute the idea.

For example:

“Founder X has a history of success in the XYZ industry, with a track record of pioneering the establishment of ABC. We are driven by a shared vision and relentless in our pursuit of excellence.”

5. Market

Discuss your target market, including the size and potential growth. Back up your estimates with independent research.

For example:

“Our target market is the 28 million small businesses in the US and Canada. The business productivity software market is $15 billion and growing at 12% year over year.”


A compelling pitch deck defines your startup and leaves investors excited about the possibilities. Focus on facts, stay authentic, and keep honing your pitch as you gain more traction. While building your pitch deck, there are certain best practices and mistakes to be aware of — keep reading for more about this.

6 Dos and Don’ts for Creating a Pitch Deck

Investors see hundreds of pitch deck presentations, so you need to make yours stand out.

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind to ensure you build a pitch deck that converts:

  • Do: Focus on storytelling.
  • Don’t: Overload your deck with too much text.
  • Do: Keep your deck simple and easy to follow.
  • Don’t: Make unrealistic projections.
  • Do: Focus on your competitive advantage.
  • Don’t: Forget the “ask” and next steps.

1. Do: Focus on storytelling.

A good pitch deck focuses on the story. When you focus on storytelling, you’re doing more than just sharing data and facts — you’re connecting with your audience on a deeper, more emotional level. Investors are people, too, and they’re more likely to support a project they feel personally invested in. Instead of just showing them numbers, tell them your story.

Explain why you started your business, the inspiration behind it, and the problem you’re passionate about solving. Maybe it’s a problem you faced personally or something you saw others struggling with. By sharing these details, you help investors understand your mission and vision, and you give them a reason to care about your success.

But remember, authenticity is key; don’t make up a story or exaggerate the truth just to make it more interesting. Investors value honesty and integrity, and they’re more likely to support a business they trust. So, be true to your mission, and let your passion shine through in your storytelling.

2. Don’t: Overload your deck with too much text.

Overloading your pitch deck presentation with excessive text can be counterproductive. People are visual creatures, and an overwhelming amount of text can be daunting and tedious to read.

Instead, use visuals like charts, graphs, photos, and illustrations to effectively convey your message and engage your audience. These can communicate complex information in an easy-to-understand, digestible format.

Keep your bullet points concise, ideally around 3 to 5 words. Long sentences can be confusing and difficult to follow in a presentation setting, where information needs to be absorbed quickly.

Strive for a balance where visuals take up at least 50% of each slide. This creates a more visually appealing and less cluttered presentation, retaining your audience’s interest.

Remember, the goal is to communicate your ideas effectively and clearly, not to overwhelm them with information. Less is often more when it comes to creating an impactful pitch deck.

3. Do: Keep your deck simple and easy to follow.

When creating a pitch deck, it’s crucial to keep it simple and easy to follow.

Firstly, opt for a simple and clean font, such as Arial or Helvetica, in a large size. This ensures that your text is easily readable, even from a distance. A font size of at least 30 points is recommended.

Secondly, choose a minimal color palette with good contrast. This helps to create visual appeal and ensures that your content stands out. Stick to a few complementary colors that are easy on the eyes, and avoid using too many vibrant or clashing colors.

Thirdly, use the same template for all slides. Consistency in the flow and format of your slides helps your audience navigate through your presentation effortlessly. It also gives a professional and cohesive look to your deck.

Lastly, remember to include only one message or topic per slide. This helps to keep your content focused and prevents overwhelming your audience with too much information. By breaking down your content into smaller, digestible chunks, you assist investors in understanding your pitch deck’s meaning and increase their confidence in you.

4. Don’t: Make unrealistic projections.

When presenting projections in your deck, it’s essential to avoid making unfeasible claims or projections. While it’s important to convey your vision and potential growth, it’s equally important to back up your projections with concrete data and valid assumptions.

Investors are experienced in analyzing business plans and have seen numerous decks with exaggerated projections. To gain their trust and credibility, it’s crucial to provide transparent and realistic projections based on sound research and analysis.

Ensure that market research, industry trends, and a thorough understanding of your target audience support your projections. Use reliable data sources and be transparent about any uncertainties or risks associated with your projections.

5. Do: Focus on your competitive advantage.

When creating your own pitch deck, dwelling on your competitive advantage is key. This is what sets your solution apart from competitors and convinces customers to choose you over existing options. Highlighting your unique selling points will help you stand out in the market.

Start by identifying and understanding your competitive landscape. Research your competitors and determine how your solution differs from theirs. What makes your product or service unique? Is it your intellectual property, proprietary data, partnerships, or other assets?

Clearly communicate your competitive advantage in your deck. Showcase your unique features, technology, or methodology that give you an edge. Explain how these advantages translate into benefits for your customers, such as increased efficiency, cost savings, or improved outcomes.

Highlight any patents, trademarks, or copyrights you possess, as they can provide a barrier to entry for competitors. Discuss any exclusive partnerships or access to key resources that create a sustainable competitive advantage. Emphasizing these helps build confidence in your ability to differentiate yourself in the market and capture a significant share of your target audience.

6. Don’t: Forget the “ask” and next steps.

When wrapping up your presentation deck, remember to make your request known — “ask.” This is your opportunity to clearly communicate your funding needs, why it’s important to your startup, and how you plan to use the capital. Providing a clear funding timeline and specifying the next key milestones helps investors understand your roadmap and the progress you aim to achieve.

Be transparent about the amount of funding you’re seeking and explain how it will be allocated. Whether it’s for product development, marketing initiatives, or scaling operations, clearly articulate how the capital will be utilized to drive growth and achieve your business objectives.

Additionally, share your funding timeline, indicating when you expect to secure the funding and the key milestones you plan to accomplish with the investment. This demonstrates your strategic thinking and helps investors understand the timeline for potential returns on their investment.

At the end of your presentation, include a call to action to schedule a follow-up meeting. This prompts potential investors to express their interest and continue the conversation. Provide clear contact information and encourage them to reach out with any questions or to request additional information.


A good understanding of what a pitch deck is is crucial to making a killer first impression. By adhering to the aforementioned dos and don’ts, you can confidently create an effective deck. However, there is the challenge of tailoring your startup pitch deck to different investor audiences — the next section addresses how to overcome this hurdle.

Tailoring Your Pitch Deck to Different Audiences

To connect with various potential backers, you’ll need to customize your pitch for each audience. The slide deck you show angel investors will differ from what you present to VCs, for example.

Let’s explore some tips for different investors:

1. Angel Investors

For angel investors, your pitch deck should focus on your vision, mission, and key milestones you aim to achieve with their capital. These early backers want to see your passion and potential for high growth. Share details about your innovative solution or technology and how it will disrupt the market.

2. Venture Capitalists

When pitching to VCs, emphasize your business model, go-to-market strategy, and financial projections. Venture capitalists will scrutinize your deck to determine if you can generate the kind of returns and exits they seek. Include metrics around your total addressable market, customer acquisition costs, lifetime value, and key performance indicators.

3. Strategic Partners

For strategic partners, highlight opportunities for collaboration and synergy. Explain how an alliance could accelerate your growth and advance the partner’s key objectives. Discuss potential partnership structures and the mutual benefits to both organizations. These audiences may be more interested in a joint venture than an investment.

4. Crowdfunding 

Crowdfunding backers will want to feel like they’re supporting an important cause or community. Share details about your vision for positive change and the impact their contributions will make. Let your passion shine through and offer compelling rewards or equity at different funding levels.


With practice, tailoring your pitch will become second nature. Research your prospective backers and adjust your deck to align with what matters most to them. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t resonate and could turn off investors, partners, or donors you hope to win over. Focus on what each audience cares about, speak their language, and make a connection that compels them to join you on your startup journey.

This brings us to the next question in our quest to understand pitch deck meaning — how many slides should your pitch deck consist of?

How Many Slides Should Be in a Pitch Deck?

For an intuitive pitch deck structure, you want to aim for 10 to 20 slides to cover the key points while keeping it concise. This is known as the 10/20/30 rule — have around 10 slides, present for no more than 20 minutes, and use a font size of at least 30 points. Any more than 20 slides risk losing your audience’s attention and interest.

Here is a sample 10-slide pitch deck:

  1. Your first slide should be your title slide with your company name, logo, and contact info. Keep this simple and eye-catching.
  2. Have a slide with your mission and vision. Explain your company’s purpose and goals in 1 to 2 sentences.
  3. Include a slide on your product or service and the problem it solves. Use visuals to demonstrate how it works.
  4. Share information on your target market, including the size and key characteristics.
  5. Discuss your business model and how you will sustainably make money.
  6. Introduce your team and key members. Highlight relevant experience and expertise.
  7. Share your key milestones and traction so far. Provide metrics and key achievements.
  8. Discuss your growth strategy and key initiatives for the next 3 to 5 years.
  9. Include financial projections, including income statements, cash flow, balance sheets, and key metrics and ratios for the next 3 to 5 years. You can obtain this info from your financial model.
  10. End with a summary slide reinforcing your key points and call to action. For example, the investment you’re seeking.

Keeping your pitch deck to 10 to 20 slides will ensure you communicate the most critical details about your company while keeping it concise and compelling enough to capture investors’ interest in the limited time you have. Below, we highlight some popular pitch deck template styles for inspiration.

Popular Startup Pitch Deck Examples and Ideas to Follow

It’s not enough to understand what a pitch deck is; you need to familiarize yourself with the structure of popular startup pitch deck examples. Successful startup pitch decks like Airbnb, Dropbox, Uber, Tinder, and Buffer are some great examples to follow.

Most of these top pitch decks follow these rules:

  • The 10/20/30 Rule Deck: 10 slides, 20 minutes of presenting, minimum 30-point font. This format encourages you to focus on only the most critical details. The limited slides make the presentation easy to follow and appealing to investors.‍
  • The Problem-Solution Deck: Devote slides to articulating the problem you’re solving, your solution, business model, marketing plan, team, competition, and financials. This hits all the elements investors want to see. It also encourages you to keep each slide concise with visuals.‍
  • The Visual Storytelling Deck: Use eye-catching visuals like graphics, charts, photos, and video to bring your story to life. Minimal text with impactful images will make a memorable impression. But don’t let the visuals distract from explaining key details.

We understand what a pitch deck is at BaseTemplates, and have developed our templates to incorporate key elements after studying successful startups’ pitch decks. Our pitch deck templates for startups are a great way to get started with building a well-researched and professionally designed pitch presentation you can be confident in.

However, we only provide you with a thoughtful framework for your business idea; you need to understand how to customize it for your business and audience. We’ll share some tips that can help you achieve this in the next section.

5 Tips for Designing a Successful Pitch Deck

To design an impactful pitch deck, focus on these essential tips:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Open strong.
  • Use data and visuals.
  • Ensure smooth transitions.
  • End strong.

1. Keep it simple.

A pitch deck should be clean and minimal. Use a simple slide template with a consistent font and color scheme. Focus on visuals that enhance your message, not distract from it. Less is more.

2. Open strong.

Your opening slide is crucial. Start with a compelling stat, like “The pet industry is a $72 billion market, and it’s growing.” This hooks investors right away and sets the context for your idea. Briefly state your business concept and value proposition afterward.

3. Use data and visuals.

Use data, statistics, graphs, and images throughout your deck to bring it to life. For example, show projected revenue growth over 3 to 5 years. Visualize your target market size and share photos of your product or service. These elements make facts and figures more engaging and memorable.

4. Ensure smooth transitions.

Transition smoothly between ideas in your pitch. Briefly restate the previous slide’s main takeaway, then introduce the next topic.

For example, “With a huge, growing market and innovative product, we’re poised for success. Now let’s talk about our go-to-market strategy.”

This helps investors follow your story and connects the dots between sections.

5. End strong.

Finish with a compelling summary of why your business will succeed. Share your vision for the future and key milestones ahead. Ask investors for input and partnership. The closing slide should inspire confidence in your venture.


By adhering to these tips, you’ll have the recipe for a polished pitch deck. Remember, an excellent way to get started with building an effective pitch deck is to work with a pitch deck template. That way, you can worry less about the structure of your deck and focus more on the tiny details!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a concise presentation that provides an overview of your startup/business plan, products, services, or ideas to potential investors or clients. It highlights key information and value propositions to generate interest and support for your venture.

What should be on a pitch deck?

A pitch deck should include your mission or vision, a clear explanation of the problem you’re solving, the market size and opportunity, details about your unique product or service, traction and revenue information, and evidence showcasing your team’s ability to execute and deliver results.

What is the difference between a presentation deck and a pitch deck?

The main difference between a presentation deck and a pitch deck is their purpose. A presentation deck is focused on providing specific information during a sales meeting. In contrast, a pitch deck is designed to generate interest in your business/startup and initiate the process of securing investments or clients.

Do I really need a pitch deck?

Yes, having a pitch deck is crucial for businesses seeking to raise finance or attract investors. It serves as a concise and compelling overview of your business, highlighting key information, value propositions, and growth potential. A well-crafted pitch deck increases your chances of securing funding and generating interest in your venture.


You now understand what a pitch deck is and why it’s so crucial for any startup. Remember, a pitch deck is your chance to convey your vision to potential investors and get them excited about the possibilities. Put in the work to craft a compelling story, focus on your key strengths, and practice your delivery, and you’ll be well on your way to securing the funding you need to turn your ambitious idea into a thriving business.

Don’t forget to check out our pitch deck template for a professional touch.

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Maximilian Fleitmann
Maximilian Fleitmann
Co-Founder @ BaseTemplates
Author Twitter LinkAuthor LinkedIN

Maximilian Fleitmann is a passionate founder and entrepreneur. For the last 12+ years he has successfully launched several businesses in the areas of education and digitalization. Max purpose is to enable growth and therefore he shares his experience in building startups.

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