If you can build a 10-slide PowerPoint deck, then you can raise millions of dollars from investors. OK, OK, that might be a bit of hyperbole, but the reality is that some of the most famous unicorns in the tech industry right now have done exactly that.
For example, consider the original Airbnb pitch deck, widely available all over the Internet for any startup founder looking for inspiration. This pitch deck is a thing of beauty. It will make you swoon over the company, open up your wallet, and hand over every last dollar you have. It is brief, elegant and to the point. If there is a single extraneous word in the entire presentation, it has yet to be found.
The first slide of the pitch deck is brilliant — just the name of the company and a seven-word statement about what the company does — “Book rooms with locals, rather than hotels.” (Back then, remember, that was a very radical idea, so investors must have been salivating like Pavlov’s dogs right from the very first minute.)
That intro was followed with a description of the problem facing many travelers (‘hotels leave you disconnected from the city and its culture”), a brief description of the solution (“a web platform where users can rent out their space to host travelers”), some numbers about the overall market size and opportunity, a description of the core product, a review of the underlying business model (“we take a 10% commission on each transaction”), some details about current market adoption rates and overall level of market competition, and a final summary of six (six!) competitive advantages that separate Airbnb from the rest of the travel pack.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. There are a few things here worth highlighting in even greater detail. One is the sheer brilliance of clearly pointing out the size of the potential market opportunity. Imagine the audacity of telling older folks used to staying in 5-star hotels that you were going to take over the entire hotel and hospitality industry on a global basis and turn everyone into couchsurfers. That’s a big idea and an even more significant opportunity. Venture capitalists must have loved that (once they got over their shock). If you can include a billion-dollar market opportunity in a pitch deck, you will be well on your way to success.
Then, there’s a very concise description of how Airbnb plans to make money — by charging commissions on every deal. This is what investors also want to see. They need to look at a path to future success that will help them maximize the return on their investment. Airbnb then followed that up with alist of significant competitive advantages and a summary of why they are better positioned than anyone else to follow through on the opportunity. Mic drop.
Thanks to the magic of the Interwebs, it’s surprisingly easy to find sample pitch decks from some of the biggest names in the tech space. You don’t want to copy these decks, of course, but you can use them for inspiration. The big takeaway here is that you don’t need a massive 100-slide pitch deck to win over investors. All you need is ten very concise slides in which you persuasively lay out the case why an investor should write you a check.