If your a startup founder, an investor, or have an interest in startups, you've likely heard of a Pitch Deck, at least that's the term that we most often use here at Pitch Deck Fire. But, there are a myriad of other terms used for the same or similar things. Here, I am going to attempt to list each of the terms, a brief definition of these terms, and perhaps shed some light on the synonyms, similarities and colloquial differences between them.
The Terms you've likely heard at one time or another:
- Pitch deck
- Pitch book
- Investor Deck
- Investor Presentation
- Startup Presentation
- Startup Pitch
- Funding Deck
How the Internet Defines Pitch Deck
Let's start by diving into how other organizations and the internet at large defines these terms. Naturally, I am starting with Wikipedia. The only two with dedicated pages on Wikipedia are pitch book and pitch deck, which makes sense as these are the most commonly used phrases. What's interesting is that while pitch deck is pretty ubiquitous in startup circles, Wikipedia redirects it to "sales presentation." Which while close in some ways, fails to hit the mark in others. Honestly, that's true for both of these definitions, they are close in some ways, but fail to hit the mark in others.
Related Wikipedia entries:
"A pitch book is a marketing presentation (information layout) used by investment banks around the world. It consists of a careful arrangement and analysis of the investment considerations of a potential or current client, and/or a reference for comparison for an employee in an investment or commercial bank. Its purpose is to secure a deal for the investment bank with the potential client." Wikipedia
(Redirects to "Sales Presentation")
"In selling technique, a sales presentation or sales pitch is a line of talk that attempts to persuade someone or something, with a planned sales presentation strategy of a product or service designed to initiate and close a sale of the product or service. A sales pitch is essentially designed to be either an introduction of a product or service to an audience who knows nothing about it, or a descriptive expansion of a product or service that an audience has already expressed interest in. Sales professionals prepare and give a sales pitch, which can be either formal or informal, and might be delivered in any number of ways." Wikipedia
noun: pitch; plural noun: pitches
the 6th listed definition for pitch on Google Dictionary: A form of words used when trying to persuade someone to buy or accept something.
from Evan Baehr's "Get Backed"
"A pitch deck is a series of words and images that illustrate a venture’s story and business model. Pitch decks do three things: they get people to understand, they get people to care, and they get people to take action. Entrepreneurs have used them to raise money, recruit employees, and close customers, partners, and suppliers. They are one of the most powerful tools early-stage entrepreneurs have at their disposal. They represent everything that is valuable about the startup—the vision, the team behind that vision, the core elements of its business model, and the insights into the customer that the venture plans to take advantage of and the industry that the venture hopes to disrupt." - Evan Baehr
So Let's Break it Down
Clearly here at Pitch Deck Fire, we use the term "pitch deck" a lot. It's in our company name after all. We spend every day working with entrepreneurs to help them put together their best, most effective and most professional pitch decks. And, we've definitely totally gotten this question before! "Why is it called a Pitch Deck?" We usually explain what a pitch deck is by breaking down the term into it's constituent parts "pitch" and "deck."
What is a Pitch
A pitch is a term that is used to describe the act of conveying information about a thing (a product or a company or an idea) in order to inform the audience about the thing and to entice them to purchase it. When you are pitching your startup, you are--in essence-- doing exactly that. You are sharing information about this thing (your company and it's future success) in order to convince a potential investor to purchase shares in your company and it's future success (equity).
What is a Deck
Back before the personal computer, and way before powerpoint, people came together in meeting rooms, turned down the lights and used overhead projectors with sheets of printed or drawn clear transparency sheets to show information, images, graphs and other information to their audience as a supplement to their speech. (Before that even we're talking about easels!). These transparencies were called slides, and a set of the transparencies for a given presentation called a slide deck. Over time the terms have stuck and you will often hear PowerPoint, presentation, and slide deck all used interchangeably. A "deck" therfore, is a set of cards / images (usually in the form of a PowerPoint, Keynote or Google Slides file) that are used to convey information in a visual way. It may sometimes be accompanied by a speech.
What is a Pitch Deck - Putting it Back Together
So putting these two definitions together we have a series of slides and or visual content along with a speech that is used to convey information about a company in order to convince the audience to purchase or invest in the company. In our context it can be thought of as a visual, story-based version of the business plan. It can be sent as a pdf to a potential investor as a visual document (in the hopes that it garners an in person meeting) or it can be used as a visual aid during a live in-person or virtual pitch. When being used to seek funding it often includes consistent content covering things like the market size, the competition, the team, etc.
So are They Synonyms or What?
So, yes, most of the terms we've laid out mean the exact same thing. Pitch deck, investor deck, investor presentation, startup presentation, funding deck are all the same. Sometimes variations of these terms are used to reference certain kinds of pitches or certain kinds of audiences. For example: pitch decks can be used to pitch for clients, sponsorship or partners too. And, each of those variations have their own series of alternate terms.
Pitch Deck - for Clients: sales deck; client deck, sales pitch, sales presentation
Pitch Deck - for Sponsorship: sponsorship deck, donor pitch, partner presentation
A Little More Detail
I want to go into more detail on the following two terms: Startup pitch and pitch book. Of all of the terms we discussed, these are the two that have somewhat unique connotations when they are used. And so, might be valuable to know for the next time you hear these terms.
Pitch book while also often used as a one to one synonym to pitch deck, is also often used by private equity firms as as presentation that covers their investment strategy, conveys their value to potential investors, and aims to convince them to invest in the fund. Here the ever so slight difference is that instead of ANY type of company who is seeking equity funding from angels or VC firms, it is SPECIFICALLY private equity firms seeking investment from high net worth individuals or institutions looking to diversify. In the first case, the startup will be using the funds on things like marketing and operational expenses to grow their company and revenues, and the investors ROI comes from that expected growth. Where in the latter case, the private equity firm will be using the funds to invest in other companies or ventures, and the ROI for investors comes from the fund managers smart decisions betting on good, high growth companies.
Startup Pitch is again, often used as a one to one synonym with pitch deck. Though more often than not, as it is simply referring to the "pitch" part of the pitch deck rather than the digital document with which many startups conduct their pitch. It can also be used to specifically refer to the content of the startups "pitch" or the verbal part of their speech. While often very closely intertwined, the pitch and the powerpoint presentation that conveys that pitch can be seen as separate beings. A founder will often, but--critically--not always, have the opportunity to share a visual presentation as they speak to potential investors. So you should always be able to talk through your "pitch" with anybody at any time.
I hope that this article has provided a bit of clarity in the terminology used in the space. Pitching your startup is a very important step in any young company's life for so many reasons beyond just getting funding or clients.
Are you struggling to put together your pitch deck? We may be able to help. We offer a wide range of services to meet different founders needs and budgets. We put together all types of pitch decks, for funding, clients or otherwise, for clients in all different industries. Check out our Pitch Deck Design Services and our Pitch Review & Coaching Opportunities.