Types of pitches - and how to make them work
If you’re reading this article, the chance is you aim to create a solid pitch deck, but you are not exactly sure how to tackle it. Different types of pitches differ primarily in their length, therefore also structurally and content-wise. There are three main categories of pitch based on these criteria - elevator pitch, investment teaser, and a full investor pitch.
1. Elevator pitch
The first type is the elevator pitch, which is the shortest one, length-wise being around the 1-minute mark. A good way to envision this, is if you bumped into a potential investor randomly, and they asked you what exactly does your startup do? You have 1 minute or less to make a great impression, therefore try to define your ideas using short, broad claims. Most importantly, make the listener curious. Reveal enough, but not enough so that the investor connects with you later to know more. You do not have the time to go into specifics, make an emphasis on what makes your startup unique and attractive. Try to talk about your placement in the industry, and why your service/product is impactful. You probably do not need to bother with a visual presentation of several slides, however, a single background for investors to look at is always a nice touch.
2. Investment teaser
The second pitch type is an investment teaser (normally just called deck), which is regularly defined as being around 3-5 minutes long. Within this type of teaser, you can expect something around 10-12 slides, meaning it lets you go a bit deeper with the topic at hand. The main point of this presentation is to make the audience involved. These are the decks shown in the demo days or the deck you send around to get someone’s attention. Try to be punctual and clear about your goals. A good idea is to think about a problem of sorts and your project as the solution. Involvement can often be achieved by good quality storytelling. Does your project have a specific starting point, during which you realized the issue you want to solve? How did your team meet? Why are you doing all of this? It is important to understand that a narrative is a very powerful tool to use within your structure because it often makes people invested. Just like with the elevator pitch, watch your time. Considering the pitch length, it is easy to spend too much time on one topic/slide even though it might not be as important in the grand scheme of things. Structure and restraint to speak extensively on redundant things are crucial in this scenario.
3. Full investor pitch AKA extended deck
The third type of pitch is a full investor pitch, usually called an extended deck with the length being around 12-15 slides, but an overall length including the annex could be as long as 15-25 slides of content, depending on the business. It is often utilized as an elaboration of your ideas for investors who are already interested in your product or service. The slides provided should be more content intensive, however, clarity is still an important aspect, as is the case with all pitch types. Make sure to include an appendix with important information like financial data, patents and trademarks, risk assessment, and any other viable information. All the data provided should be enough for an investor to decide if they want to back up your project, so include any and all trump cards you may not have used within the shorter types of pitches.
Examples of past pitch decks and what could be improved about them today
Airbnb - reproduction of their original pitch deck, and even though it is very light on content, it still fulfills the purpose of getting their message across
Postmates - strong deck, although missing a slide with their ask
Uber - could be more organized, but it definitely shows an understanding of the market and a clear solution to a problem