Raising 101: Tips for Crafting the Perfect Pitch Deck


Your pitch deck is fundamental to telling your organization’s story.

While the pitch deck itself is rarely the reason for getting funded, developing one that is compelling can improve your odds. Your deck should tell a story about why you created the company and why people need your product or service. Throughout this article, we will outline some important aspects that Refinery Ventures looks for when looking at pitch decks.

Balance Your Pitch Deck

It’s important to be specific in your deck while also summarizing. The balance falls between “the curse of knowing too much” and being too high level.

Consider that the investor may not have a deep understanding of your industry, so providing context without getting in the weeds is important. Inversely, if a pitch is too high level, the VC may not have a clear understanding of the business. Strive to make your presentation easy to digest, even by the most novice reader. Remember, simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication..

It is also important to balance the length of a pitch deck. Since VCs see a lot of decks, they cannot spend hours on yours for the first flip. However, it can’t be too short where major questions are left unanswered.

Here is a basic outline of your slides that may help you find the perfect length:

  • Problem – What isn’t working in the market. Simply put… what is the problem?

  • Solution – Show what your company provides and why it is distinct. Highlight your unique value proposition. What will the world look like after the problem is solved?

  • Market – What’s the TAM? Include accurate market estimations and overall market trends. This is a great way to demonstrate the size of the opportunity to investors and an opportunity to demonstrate your unique insights.

  • Business model – Show some plans on how your business can be profitable. Be sure to include go-to-market explaining how you will capture market share. Use industry benchmarks and be clear about your assumptions. For example, you might want to show that your assumed CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) is reasonable relative to the industry, and not overly optimistic.

  • Competitors – What do your competitors offer and what distinguishes your business from them?

  • Defensibility – How will you defend against competitors and maintain a competitive edge? This can come from IP, network economies, or even trade secrets.

  • Traction – Show relevant KPI’s of user growth, ARR, profit, or impressions. What assumptions have you validated, and what is left to demonstrate?

  • Team – Investors invest in you, show them your awesome self. Be committed and capable of solving the problem

  • Ask – Break down the allocation of your fundraise.

After designing your deck it’s essential to go back and think if it clearly answers these questions:

  1. Is this idea unique and defensible?

  2. Is this a large market? Is this the right time?

  3. Why you?

How to Send Your Deck

Sending the deck via PDF is best, but DocSend and other newer apps and programs are also good to enable metric tracking.

For founders, DocSend might be useful, as these types of services send trackable versions of their pitch decks. They can use these insights to see which firms are engaged and sharing. Keep in mind a VC may want to share amongst their own team, and some services make this difficult.

The Future of Pitching

We’ve been seeing more and more startups recording a quick elevator pitch as well as a longer 10-minute pitch in video form to send ahead of time. We find these elevator pitches to be helpful as context to your pitch so we can ask more insightful questions.

Presenting your pitch deck

Different VCs have different presenting styles. Some like walking through the deck and some prefer an open conversation, and you should be prepared to pitch in both scenarios.

Finally, here are some of our other favorite resources when it comes to pitch decks:

In summary

Getting your pitch right is one of the most crucial activities of a raise. Be creative, tell your story, and illustrate the opportunity. Remember to find balance and think about length. Remember, your deck will not be your reason for getting funding, but it is an excellent tool to help tell your companies’ story.

For more great information on completing a raise, visit our 2021 intern series for more knowledge. Best of luck on your raise!