Pitch decks are an essential tool for startups and entrepreneurs looking to secure funding and gain traction for their business. A well-crafted pitch deck can help convince investors of the viability and potential of a business, while a poorly executed one can be a major turn-off. To avoid common pitfalls and create a winning pitch deck, it’s important to understand and avoid the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make.
Failing to clearly articulate the problem and solution.
One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make in their pitch decks is failing to clearly articulate the problem that their product or service is solves and the unique solution that it offers. Investors want to know why your product or service is needed, how it addresses a significant pain point or gap in the market, and why it’s the best solution available. Be sure to clearly state the problem and solution in the first few slides of your pitch deck, and use concrete examples and data to support your claims.
Skimping on market research and competitive analysis.
Another common mistake in pitch decks is a lack of market research and competitive analysis. Investors want to see that you have thoroughly researched the market for your product or service and have a deep understanding of the competition. This includes data on the size and potential of the market, as well as an overview of the competitive landscape and how your product or service differentiates from the competition. Don’t just cite generic market size statistics: choose metrics that are specific to your product (ie. in the famous Airbnb pitch deck, they reference the total number of “BnB” trips as opposed to the travel industry as a whole).
Overlooking the importance of storytelling.
While a pitch deck should be supported by data and facts, it’s also important to tell a compelling story that captures the attention of investors and helps them understand and connect with your business. A good pitch deck (like any good story) should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with a well-defined problem, solution, and vision for the future. That said, don’t blindly follow the Sequoia pitch deck formula (Problem → Solution → Market…): use engaging visuals, customer testimonials, and anecdotes to bring your story to life and make it memorable.
Focusing on features instead of benefits.
A common mistake in pitch decks is focusing too much on the features, rather than the benefits they offer to customers. Investors are not interested in a laundry list of features or the technical details of how it works; they want to know how your product or service will improve the lives of customers and achieve product-market fit. Be sure to highlight the key benefits of your product or service, referencing customer stories and data to support your claims.
Neglecting to address potential risks and challenges.
While it’s important to highlight the potential of your business, it’s also crucial to acknowledge and address potential risks and challenges. Many first-time founders will claim their startup has “no competitors” or “no risks,” but every viable business will compete with alternatives and will need to overcome threats & weaknesses to succeed. Investors want to know that you have thought through the potential obstacles and setbacks that your business may face and how you will overcome them. Be transparent about the risks and challenges that your business may face, but always show that you have a plan.
Using jargon and technical terms without explanation.
Using jargon and technical terms without explanation can be a major turn-off for investors. This is an especially common struggle for founders in esoteric industries such as biotech and hardware. While it’s important to show that you have a deep understanding of your industry and the technology behind your product or service, it’s equally critical to ensure that your pitch is accessible and understandable to a non-technical audience. Avoid using technical terms without explaining them, and be sure to provide clear and concise explanations of any technical concepts.
Omitting key financials and projections.
A pitch deck without financials and projections is like a car without an engine. Investors want to see that you have a clear understanding of the financials of your business and that you have realistic projections for future growth. Be sure to include key financials such as revenue and expenses, and provide detailed projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. Use this information to demonstrate the potential of your business and show how you plan to achieve your growth goals.
Including too much information.
Pitch decks should be concise and to the point, providing only the most relevant and important information. Including too much information, such as long and detailed descriptions of the product or service, can be overwhelming and confusing for investors. Be sure to include only the most essential information in your pitch deck, and use visuals and graphics to make it easy to understand and digest.
Neglecting to include a call to action.
A common mistake many founders make when designing their pitch decks is failing to include a prominent call-to-action (CTA). Every presentation (pitch deck or otherwise) should clearly communicate what action you want to take your audience to take if they are interested, whether it’s to contact you, book a meeting, etc. Be sure to conclude your pitch with a clear and compelling call-to-action — and always provide investors with *all* the necessary information (ie. links, contact information) to take the next step.
Not rehearsing and practicing your pitch.
Finally, many entrepreneurs make the error of not rehearsing and practicing their pitch deck before presenting it to investors. A pitch deck is not something that should be thrown together at the last minute; it requires careful planning and preparation. Do not underestimate the need to practice and perfect how you deliver your pitch: be sure to rehearse presenting your pitch deck several times before any investor meetings, and solicit feedback from friends, mentors, and peers to improve it.
By avoiding these common mistakes, founders can create a winning pitch deck that captures the attention of investors and convinces them of the potential of their business. A well-crafted pitch deck can be a powerful tool for securing funding and gaining traction for your startup, so be sure to take the time to create a compelling and effective presentation.