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1/4/2016

How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

How to Design a Pitch Deck:


Lessons from a Seasoned
Founder
by Daniel Eckler, Founder of Mylo

Successful startups are known for their disruptive approach, so its


interesting to see how so many innovative companies are surprisingly

conservative (and sometimes sloppy) when it comes to their pitch deck a


curious fact considering the design and development resources at their
disposal.

I had some success in the past with a pitch deck I created for my company
Piccsy and although its unnecessary to go to the lengths that we did to

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

create a quality deck it never hurts to swing for the fences.

Keep in mind a well-designed deck is not as important as the product youre


pitching, but it can clarify and enhance your presentation. Compare it to
wearing a tie and pressed button up to a job interview: it wont get you the
job, but it will prevent you from having to dig yourself out of the hole a
wrinkled tee and cargo shorts would have created.

Using the pitch of my new company Mylo as a case study, Ill show you how
to create a well-designed deck.

Rapid Fire Considerations: Dos & Donts


Dont:

Exceed 20 words per slide. You get one headline phrase, one sentence
caption, and thats it. Slides arent scripts, theyre a visual guide for
your audience. Everyone in the room should grasp a slide the moment
they glance at it.

If they re reading, you re in trouble, because

that means they re not listening to you.

Do:

Use one phrase (headline) per slide, maximum.

Use one sentence (caption or subheader) to complement your headline,


maximum.

Use one image (visual representation of the headline or caption) per


slide, maximum.

Source non-licensed images. Especially if you cant aord a designer or


photographer. Keep in mind, this is not a TED Talk. For the most part,
youll be pitching a few people, and your deck is only going to be seen
behind closed doors. (Except in our present case: before we intended to
write this post, we borrowed and manipulated a handful of images from
one of our favorite illustrators, Rami Niemi.)

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1/4/2016

How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Tell a Compelling Story


Many How to Develop a Pitch Deck outlines will detail the 10 slides you
need to have in your deck. While certain slides are important, a pitch can
fall at if its not framed as a story. You need to play to both the head and

the heart investors make decisions with both.

A 3 Minute Story
The best approach is to weave a compelling, 3 minute story about whats
wrong with the world, what the inevitable solution is, how your product
happens to be that solution, and why your company will succeed.

Your story should lead to your product being the logical conclusion of
whatever problem you identify. As long as its compelling and concise, youre
set. Save your more conventional slides for a supplemental deck that you can
reference when questions arise organically in your post-pitch conversation.

The goal of the rst meeting is not to get funded, its to secure a second
meeting. The goal of your 3 minute pitch isnt to drag the investor through
every last detail of your business, its to excite them and engage in a
conversation that allows you to move through the remainder of your story
and slides organically.

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1/4/2016

How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

First Slide / First Impressions


Have you ever been on a rst date and immediately decided whether you
like or dislike the person youre about to sit down with? Some dates go so
well that youre fantasizing about marriage by the end.

Investors are no dierent. Ideally, you want them to fantasize about your
ability to make them a billion dollars. A strong rst slide will tip the scales in
that direction. This slide should immediately hook them, and a great way to
do that is to explore the problem that your product is going to solve.

Problem / Solution
Stories thrive on tension. The worst movie ever made would have the
protagonist fall in love during the credits, and wed have to squirm our way
through 90 minutes of bliss.

50 First Dates, 500 Days of Summer these titles suggest long, drawn out
processes that play with our attraction to the buildup of tension and the
release of resolution. Our pitch does just that: it builds tension slowly,
introducing two problem slides before our rst solution slide. We follow that
up with two more problem slides before proposing our next solution.

Its important to remember that youve been thinking about your product for
months, and the problem and solution are extremely obvious to you by now.

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1/4/2016

How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Keep in mind: its not obvious to potential investors, and its your task to
make it so. The best way to do that? Repetition.

Design Tips

Good Design

Most people think good design is directly related to beauty. Theyre wrong.
Good design is about executing a desired outcome through visual
communication. Did you notice how ugly our rst slide is? This is
intentional.

We want people to react viscerally to how messy and uncomfortable the


problem is.

Weve also used an iconic, relatable image to communicate it. Every investor
knows that Mark Zuckerberg is a notoriously poor dresser, so this tiny visual
joke helps us develop a rapport in addition to articulating the problem our
product is about to solve.

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1/4/2016

How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Use Transitions
Powerpoint fades and wipes do not apply here. Transitioning in this sense
refers to unifying visual cues, be they consistent type or image placement.

Its always wise to anchor your slides with consistently placed images & type,
but it also helps to get creative. A great lm example would be the iconic
shot from 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you can recall, it tracks a bone thats
been thrown into the sky, before transitioning to a matched shot of a
rotating space station.

Our far less impressive transition features a pair of slides that propose the
eect of a magic button (Mylo). The rst slide features a frowning, poorly
dressed fellow surrounded by distressed emojis.

We press the button (which mimics our apps ability to dress you in a matter
of seconds), and voila! Our magic button has transformed depression to
happiness, rain to sunshine, and a once poorly dressed man to a snappy
dresser: who wouldnt want that?

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Visualize Emotion
Frame your pitch from the perspective of other individuals, ideally your
investor. How can they best be reached? The illustrations weve used in our
deck werent chosen exclusively for their supercial qualities.

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Although they do help us convey a fun, quirky side of Mylo, we were also
aware theyd help our audience engage with our story on a deeper level.

Illustrations are powerful because they enable a viewer to envision


themselves in the scenario youve created; something that photography
lacks.

We readily admit in our deck that there is a solution for men whod like to
dress well: their girlfriends. Besides this being low-tech and messy, theres
another, more subtle connotation: its slightly emasculating.

We never say this in our copy, or even in our verbal presentation, but by
using an image of a man-child, we inject some humor, and more
importantly, subtly indicate that todays solution may even be somewhat
embarrassing.

The Money Shot

Nope, not actual money, because youre probably not making any yet were
talking about your product. Regardless of the story youve decided to tell, its
almost certainly going to include an explanation of what you actually do.

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1/4/2016

How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

You dont have time to weave a full demo into a 3 minute pitch, so your goal
here is to showcase why your solution is at least 10 times better than all of
the alternatives youve described thus far.

In our case, we contrast Mylo with two extremely rudimentary versions of


the same thing, and show how our solution is more expansive, beautiful,
personalized, user-friendly and high tech.

The Actual Money Shot


Again, at this stage any hard gures you present probably wont be accurate,
and stories are more fun than numbers anyways. The idea behind this story
is to convince your investors that what youre creating is the future, and how
theres an enormous (somewhat quantiable) opportunity ahead of you.

In our case, we show the enormous potential of mobile and its undeniable
future at the head of commerce. Despite that, our graph shows how little
mobile activity there is at the moment, which represents a giant opportunity.

Dont be shy: put your investor in a space suit with oating gold bars and
briefcases of money; thats the point: theyre here to make money, and

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

everyone wants to pretend theyre Elon Musk.

Supplemental Slides
Youve spent three weeks crafting a three minute story, but youre not quite
nished. If you really put in the work, youve explored several dierent
narrative paths and have a ton of extra information that you couldnt include
for the sake of brevity.

Back Pocket Stories


Luckily, these ideas dont have to go to waste. Once your 3 minute pitch is
complete, the investor will likely have several questions about your project.
The idea is to anticipate these questions and create supplemental slides that
will provide visual support for your answers.

If an investor asks about your competition (and they most certainly will),
youll be prepared to articulate who exists and why youre unique and
superior.

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

For Mylo, its an excellent moment to reiterate the giant opportunity in


mobile lifestyle commerce. The supplemental slide weve prepared includes a
variation on a competitor matrix, which investors are used to seeing and
ignoring.

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Weve also taken the time to think about lifestyle commerces TAM, but
werent able to t our thoughts into the core pitch. Instead, we transformed
our thoughts into a supplemental story slide about our vision to become the
leading lifestyle company of the mobile age. We discuss what a Gap + Ikea
hybrid might look like if it was created today and how it might compete with
Amazon.

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Up Your Word Count


Remember the rule that restricted you to 20 words per slide? Its pretty
dicult to abide by. Heres where you can break it.

If you have a slide in your core deck that requires additional explanation, a
supplemental version of the slide can be made and used as a cheat that
helps you remember all of the key points you werent able to condense into
your pitch.

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Go Generic
Not every slide can be a work of art. Include a generic templatable slide to
add information that cant be clearly articulated in one image or slide.

In an ideal world, youd take the ideas that youve lazily merged and break
them into original/impressive/beautiful supplementary slides, but youre a
startup and youre broke, and thats why youre putting this together in the
rst place. You cant aord to make every slide perfect ;)

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Other Resources
Hopefully my advice was useful. If you enjoyed reading this article, please
share via Twitter or Facebook.

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

Mylo is currently raising a seed round, if you know any investors who are
interested, please have them e-mail daniel@okmylo.com

Thanks for reading :)

Thanks to Shaun Roncken for editing.

Further Reading
For other great more general reading material on pitch deck development,
check out the following links: Want a Better Pitch?, 4 Point Story Structure
for Fundraising, VCs Spend an Average of 3 Minutes on Them, Three Slides
Then Shut-up, How About Seven?, The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your
Pitch, In Defense of the Deck, Pre-Pitch Advice

Additional Design References


If youd like to check out some well considered non-Mylo decks, check out
the following links: Best Pitch Decks, PitchEnvy, Best Startup Pitch Decks

Powerpoint Template
If youre lost, in a rush, and need something to get you started immediately,
try this template from Crowdfunder.

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons


from a Seasoned Founder
Successful startups are known for their disruptive
approach, so its interesting to see how so many
innovative
medium.com

Published in Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

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How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking Medium

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