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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
by Daniel Eckler, Founder of Mylo

Successful startups are known for their disruptive approach, so it’s
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

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


I’ll show you how to create a well-designed deck. • Use one image (visual representation of the headline or caption) per slide. For the most part. maximum. and Life Hacking — Medium     create a quality deck — it never hurts to swing for the fences.) Rami Niemi.wrju5prpf 2/19 . You get one headline phrase. but it will prevent you from having to dig yourself out of the hole a wrinkled tee and cargo shorts would have created. maximum. we borrowed and manipulated a handful of images from one of our favorite illustrators. (Except in our present case: before we intended to write this post. Wanderlust. one sentence caption. Keep in mind. Especially if you can’t afford a designer or photographer. this is not a TED Talk. Compare it to wearing a tie and pressed button up to a job interview: it won’t get you the job. and your deck is only going to be seen behind closed doors. Do: • Use one phrase (headline) per slide. they’re a visual guide for your audience. but it can clarify and enhance your presentation. ’ ’ If they re reading. you’ll be pitching a few people. Using the pitch of my new company Mylo as a case study. maximum. Slides aren’t scripts. and that’s it. Rapid Fire Considerations: Dos & Don’ts Don’t: • Exceed 20 words per slide.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. Everyone in the room should grasp a slide the moment they glance at it. • Use one sentence (caption or subheader) to complement your headline. you re in trouble. Keep in mind a well-designed deck is not as important as the product you’re pitching. because ’ that means they re not listening to you. • Source non-licensed images.

The goal of your 3 minute pitch isn’t to drag the investor through every last detail of your business. it’s to secure a second meeting. and why your company will succeed. Your story should lead to your product being the logical conclusion of whatever problem you identify. it’s to excite them and engage in a conversation that allows you to move through the remainder of your story and slides organically. While certain slides are important. You need to play to both the head and     the heart — investors make decisions with both. you’re set.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. a pitch can fall flat if it’s not framed as a story. 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. how your product happens to be that solution. A 3 Minute Story The best approach is to weave a compelling.wrju5prpf 3/19 . Wanderlust. what the inevitable solution is. The goal of the first meeting is not to get funded. Save your more conventional slides for a supplemental deck that you can reference when questions arise organically in your post-pitch conversation. As long as it’s compelling and concise. https://medium. 3 minute story about what’s wrong with the

It’s important to remember that you’ve been thinking about your product for months. This slide should immediately hook them. introducing two problem slides before our first solution slide.wrju5prpf 4/19 .1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. Ideally. https://medium. Problem / Solution Stories thrive on tension. and a great way to do that is to explore the problem that your product is going to solve.     50 First Dates. A strong first slide will tip the scales in that direction. Wanderlust. Our pitch does just that: it builds tension We follow that up with two more problem slides before proposing our next solution. and the problem and solution are extremely obvious to you by now. you want them to fantasize about your ability to make them a billion dollars. and we’d have to squirm our way through 90 minutes of bliss. drawn out processes that play with our attraction to the buildup of tension and the release of resolution. and Life Hacking — Medium First Slide / First Impressions Have you ever been on a first date and immediately decided whether you like or dislike the person you’re about to sit down with? Some dates go so well that you’re fantasizing about marriage by the end. The worst movie ever made would have the protagonist fall in love during the credits. 500 Days of Summer — these titles suggest long. Investors are no different.

We’ve also used an iconic. We want people to react viscerally to how messy and uncomfortable the problem is. relatable image to communicate it. and Life Hacking — Medium Keep in mind: it’s not obvious to potential https://medium. The best way to do that? Repetition. Wanderlust. and it’s your task to make it so. Did you notice how ugly our first slide is? This is intentional.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. so this tiny visual joke helps us develop a rapport in addition to articulating the problem our product is about to solve.wrju5prpf 5/19 . They’re wrong. Design Tips “Good Design” Most people think good design is directly related to beauty. Good design is about executing a desired outcome through visual communication. Every investor knows that Mark Zuckerberg is a notoriously poor dresser.

1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. rain to sunshine. It’s always wise to anchor your slides with consistently placed images & type. Wanderlust. be they consistent type or image placement. poorly dressed fellow surrounded by distressed emojis. Transitioning in this sense refers to unifying visual cues. but it also helps to get creative. The first slide features a frowning. and voila! Our magic button has transformed depression to happiness. We press the button (which mimics our app’s ability to dress you in a matter of seconds).com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272#. Our far less impressive transition features a pair of slides that propose the effect of a magic button (Mylo). it tracks a bone that’s been thrown into the sky. If you can recall. before transitioning to a matched shot of a rotating space station. and a once poorly dressed man to a snappy dresser: who wouldn’t want that? https://medium.wrju5prpf 6/19 . A great film example would be the iconic shot from 2001: A Space Odyssey. and Life Hacking — Medium Use Transitions Powerpoint fades and wipes do not apply here.

com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272#. Wanderlust.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. and Life Hacking — Medium Visualize Emotion Frame your pitch from the perspective of other individuals. How can they best be reached? The illustrations we’ve used in our deck weren’t chosen exclusively for their superficial qualities. ideally your investor. https://medium.wrju5prpf 7/19 .

Illustrations are powerful because they enable a viewer to envision themselves in the scenario you’ve created. there’s another. something that photography lacks. because you’re probably not making any yet — we’re talking about your product. subtly indicate that today’s solution may even be somewhat embarrassing. and Life Hacking — Medium Although they do help us convey a fun.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. Besides this being low-tech and messy. we were also aware they’d help our audience engage with our story on a deeper level. Wanderlust. but by using an image of a man-child. We readily admit in our deck that there is a solution for men who’d like to dress well: their girlfriends. more subtle connotation: it’s slightly emasculating. The Money Shot     Nope. we inject some humor. and more importantly. https://medium. Regardless of the story you’ve decided to tell. or even in our verbal presentation. not actual money.wrju5prpf 8/19 . We never say this in our quirky side of Mylo. it’s almost certainly going to include an explanation of what you actually do.

which represents a giant opportunity. our graph shows how little mobile activity there is at the moment. The Actual Money Shot Again.wrju5prpf 9/19 . we contrast Mylo with two extremely rudimentary versions of the same thing. personalized.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. The idea behind this story is to convince your investors that what you’re creating is the future. user-friendly and high tech. and show how our solution is more expansive. Despite that. and how there’s an enormous (somewhat quantifiable) opportunity ahead of you. Wanderlust. so your goal here is to showcase why your solution is at least 10 times better than all of the alternatives you’ve described thus far. at this stage any hard figures you present probably won’t be accurate. beautiful. we show the enormous potential of mobile and its undeniable future at the head of commerce. and https://medium. In our case. Don’t be shy: put your investor in a space suit with floating gold bars and briefcases of money. In our case. and Life Hacking — Medium You don’t have time to weave a full demo into a 3 minute pitch. that’s the point: they’re here to make and stories are more fun than numbers anyways.

Once your 3 minute pitch is complete. If you really put in the work. the investor will likely have several questions about your project.wrju5prpf 10/19 .com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272#.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. but you’re not quite finished. The idea is to anticipate these questions and create supplemental slides that will provide visual support for your answers. these ideas don’t have to go to waste. you’ve explored several different narrative paths and have a ton of extra information that you couldn’t include for the sake of brevity. Back Pocket Stories Luckily. Wanderlust. Supplemental Slides You’ve spent three weeks crafting a three minute story. you’ll be prepared to articulate who exists and why you’re unique and superior. and Life Hacking — Medium everyone wants to pretend they’re Elon Musk. https://medium. If an investor asks about your competition (and they most certainly will).

1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. it’s an excellent moment to reiterate the giant opportunity in mobile lifestyle commerce. Wanderlust. and Life Hacking — Medium For Mylo. which investors are used to seeing and ignoring. The supplemental slide we’ve prepared includes a variation on a competitor matrix.wrju5prpf 11/19 .

We discuss what a Gap + Ikea hybrid might look like if it was created today and how it might compete with Amazon. and Life Hacking — Medium We’ve also taken the time to think about lifestyle commerce’s https://medium. we transformed our thoughts into a supplemental story slide about our vision to become the leading lifestyle company of the mobile age. but weren’t able to fit our thoughts into the core pitch.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. Instead.wrju5prpf 12/19 . Wanderlust.

com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272#.wrju5prpf 13/19 . and Life Hacking — Medium Up Your Word Count Remember the rule that restricted you to 20 words per slide? It’s pretty difficult to abide by. https://medium.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. Here’s 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 weren’t able to condense into your pitch. Wanderlust.

com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272#. You can’t afford to make every slide perfect .) https://medium. and Life Hacking — Medium Go Generic Not every slide can be a work of art.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. and that’s why you’re putting this together in the first place. Include a generic templatable slide to add information that can’t be clearly articulated in one image or slide. Wanderlust. you’d take the ideas that you’ve lazily merged and break them into original/impressive/beautiful supplementary slides. In an ideal world. but you’re a startup and you’re broke.wrju5prpf 14/19 .

If you enjoyed reading this article.wrju5prpf 15/19 . please share via Twitter or Facebook. https://medium. and Life Hacking — Medium Other Resources Hopefully my advice was useful.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups.

Three Slides Then Shut-up. please have them e-mail Thanks for reading :) Thanks to Shaun Roncken for editing. and Life Hacking — Medium Mylo is currently raising a seed in a rush. Best Startup Pitch Decks Powerpoint Template If you’re lost. If you enjoyed reading this article. I would appreciate it if you hit the ♥ button. 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. if you know any investors who are interested. and need something to get you started immediately. VCs Spend an Average of 3 Minutes on Them. In Defense of the Deck. try this template from Crowdfunder. Wanderlust. Pre-Pitch Advice Additional Design References If you’d like to check out some well considered non-Mylo decks. How About Seven?. PitchEnvy.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups.wrju5prpf 16/19 . ’ Check Out These Related Articles I ve Written https://medium. check out the following links: Best Pitch Decks. Share the love. The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch.

com You’ve Seen These Logos Every Day.wrju5prpf 17/19 .com/swlh/ How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder Successful startups are known for their disruptive approach.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. This is What You’ve Been Missing FedEx’s Hidden Arrow and 43 Other Things You Never Noticed medium. Wanderlust. Published in Startups. . . and Life Hacking — Medium The Best Design Writing of 2015 This article needs little introduction: we’ve curated and categorized 62 of Medium’s best design posts from the past… medium. so it’s interesting to see how so many innovative… The 21 Best Designed Apps of 2015 And the Must-Know Mobile Trends They Highlight medium. and Life Hacking . Wanderlust.

and Life Hacking — Medium - 18/19 .1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder — Startups. Wanderlust.

Wanderlust.wrju5prpf 19/19 . and Life Hacking — Medium https://medium.1/4/2016 How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder —