How to create a winning Series A pitch deck

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Part of preparing for your Series A round of funding is assembling a stellar pitch deck. Pitch decks can be different at every stage of fundraising, but in the Series A, there are a few key metrics and messages most investors want to see. 

Below, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about building a winning pitch deck. 

The goal of your Series A pitch deck

Unlike seed rounds, where companies generally raise money from individual investors like friends, family members, and angels, your Series A will typically be the first fundraising round in which you raise money from large institutions like venture capital firms. 

Because of this, the purpose of a Series A VC pitch deck is to give investors confidence that your company has what it takes to scale, solidify product-market fit, and generate more significant revenue. As a result, Series A pitch decks tend to be more number-heavy than pitch decks in earlier rounds like seed or pre-seed. 

In those earlier rounds of funding, you may have used a pitch deck to explain your business model, articulate your vision and value proposition, or share high-level financial projections. However, as you think about raising your Series A, it becomes more important to highlight the right metrics, as well as demonstrate your company’s potential for growth and eventual profitability.

 

During the Series A round, there are a few different scenarios you might find yourself in:

  • You used the funds from your seed round to ship your minimum viable product (MVP) and establish product-market fit, and are now beginning to acquire customers and generate revenue. In order to raise funds for your next chapter, you need to show investors that you have a roadmap to keep up the pace and continue growing. 
  • You’re meeting with institutional investors for the first time, and learning that they have high standards for the business metrics they want to see.
  • You have limited runway left, which means you need a sizable capital investment to maintain and scale your operations. 

For these reasons and more, the Series A round is critical to both your company’s immediate growth and long-term sustainability. If you score the right amount of funds during this round, you should set yourself up with  a healthy amount of funds to reinvest in your product, grow your team, and expand your customer base. On the flip side, if you don’t raise enough during your Series A, you may not have time to become profitable before your money runs out. 

This is where a good pitch deck becomes extremely important. You can use your Series A pitch deck to explain how you’ve reached your goals so far, where your company is headed, and how this new infusion of funding will help you get there. 

10 building blocks of a strong Series A pitch deck 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all format for a good Series A pitch deck, but investors typically want to know a few key things: 1) What problem your company solves, 2) how much traction you’ve gained so far, and 3) your vision—and potential—moving forward. 

How you convey that information is up to you, but it can be helpful to break it down into different sections. Here are 10 important areas you should consider covering in your Series A pitch deck: 

1. Introduction to your company

Start your pitch deck by introducing your company. Keep it simple and share your company name, tagline, industry, and maybe a fun fact or two. 

2. Problem 

The problem section sets up the rest of your pitch deck. In clear terms, explain the problem your company is solving, as well as who the problem affects. Make sure you’re as specific and targeted as possible. 

For example, instead of sharing a statement like, “The American healthcare system is broken,” you could say, “Many mental health services aren’t covered by insurance, meaning X% of Americans can’t afford therapy.”

3. Solution 

The solution section of the pitch deck is your first opportunity to go into detail about what your company offers and why it’s valuable. As with the problem, make sure your language around the solution is specific and easy to understand. 

Instead of saying, “Our company aims to make mental healthcare more affordable,” you could say, “Our product gives people virtual and in-person therapy options that fit their budget.” 

4. Traction 

The purpose of the traction section of a pitch deck is to show investors what you’ve achieved so far in quantifiable terms. Use this slide to highlight your most impressive area of growth, whether it’s revenue, customer acquisition, or product engagement. 

From there, identify the key metrics that prove your point. If you want to underscore your exponential earning potential, for example, you could include your annual, quarterly, and monthly revenue growth stats from the past year. 

5. Market 

The market portion of a pitch deck helps sell your future growth to investors. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data, you need to show that there’s a worthwhile market opportunity and that you’ve achieved product-market fit.

Beyond sharing information and stats about your market size, target demographic, and competitors, you may also want to include the below metrics: 

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): How much money you spend acquiring customers says a lot about your company’s marketing strategies, profitability, and ability to scale users. Consider including your company’s blended CAC and paid CAC numbers. Blended CAC = Total acquisition cost / Total new customers acquired. Paid CAC = Total acquisition cost / Total new customers acquired through paid marketing channels
  • Lifetime value (LTV): Lifetime value tells you how much net profit your company makes per customer over the course of their relationship with you. LTV = Average value of sale x Number of transactions x Retention time period

6. Product 

The product section gives you a chance to showcase your product or service in more detail, either by demonstrating how it works or highlighting new features you’ve implemented. This part of the pitch deck is also a good place to include a handful of product-related metrics, such as: 

  • Active users or customers: Your active user rate says a lot about your overall product engagement and customer satisfaction. Define how many active daily users, active weekly users, and active monthly users you have. 
  • Month-over-month growth: Your company’s month-over-month growth, which tells investors how quickly you’re growing, is a good indication of your product-market fit. You can measure month-over-month growth in terms of revenue, active users, sales, or subscriptions. 
  • Churn: Your churn rate tells investors how many customers you’re losing in a given period of time—and how many you’re retaining. 

7. Financials 

At the Series A stage, your company typically has a lot more financial data to work with. Be careful not to cherry-pick impressive numbers, though; instead, identify a few different pieces of data that give investors a more complete picture of your profit potential. The following metrics can help: 

  • Annual recurring revenue (ARR): Your company’s ARR tells investors how much money you’re bringing in on a yearly basis from subscriptions or sales. You can also calculate your ARR per customer; if the number is growing, it’s typically a good sign. 
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR): It’s also helpful to include your company’s MRR, which shows how much revenue you generate on a monthly basis. 
  • Burn rate: Your company’s burn rate gives investors a better idea of how much money it takes to keep your company operational each month. It’s also an indication of how much runway you have left. 
  • Gross profit: If you’ve started generating a profit, you’ll want to share your gross profit and the various costs and figures that go into that number.  
  • Sales or revenue forecast: If you have promising financial projections for the year ahead, go ahead and share them. 

8. Milestones

Another common component of a Series A pitch deck is a section covering milestones. Sharing your company’s past milestones gives potential investors a good idea of how quickly you move, as well as how reliable you are at hitting your stated benchmarks. Briefly describe your accomplishments (for example: acquiring 10,000 active monthly users, or generating your first $1 million in ARR), and consider illustrating the funding it took to get there. 

It’s also helpful to share your company’s upcoming milestones, so investors know what kind of path you’ve placed yourself on.   

9. Team 

The team section of a pitch deck is where you introduce investors to the people who’ve been part of your company’s growth up to this point. Share a few bullet points about your team’s individual backgrounds and credentials, as well as your own accomplishments as a founder. 

This is another opportunity to show that you’re the perfect person to lead your company, and equipped to recruit the right talent to execute your plans. 

10. Funding needs

The final section of your pitch deck should spell out your funding needs for the Series A round. Investors should walk away with a clear idea of your fundraising target, how you’ll use the money to reach your next milestone, and what they can expect in terms of a potential return on investment.

Tips for writing a successful Series A pitch deck

Use these strategies to make your pitch deck stand out:  

  • Be authentic. Focus on telling your company’s story in the most authentic way possible. Use language that represents your company’s ethos and don’t be afraid to deviate from the normal pitch deck structure if it serves your story better.
  • Keep it concise. You don’t need to include every metric or explain your product development journey in detail. Your pitch deck should be between 10 and 20 slides, giving investors just enough information to request a followup conversation but not so much that they’re overwhelmed.
  • Use visuals. Graphs, images, and charts help illustrate your points in a more interesting, memorable way.
  • Back up big claims with data. Make sure you support all your lofty claims with hard data. For example, if you say, “We’re growing fast” in your traction slide, you need to present a figure or stat that conveys that growth speed. 

Start writing your pitch deck today

Writing a Series A pitch deck can feel intimidating, but chances are you already have all the information you need—you just need to organize it in a logical and compelling way that gives investors the reasons they need to help you raise funds for your company.

At Carta, we help startups with fundraising, compensation, valuations, equity management and much more. Talk to us to find out how we can help you grow.

DISCLOSURE: This communication is on behalf of eShares Inc., d/b/a Carta Inc. (“Carta”).  This communication is for informational purposes only, and contains general information only.  Carta is not, by means of this communication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services.  This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business or interests.  Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or interests, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.  This communication is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Carta does not assume any liability for reliance on the information provided herein. ©2021 eShares, Inc. d/b/a Carta, Inc. (“Carta”). All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited.

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