Pitch decks are the heart of startup fundraising. When done right, these decks can draw in millions of dollars in funding.
Henry Ward, the founder and CEO of Carta, a company that helps with equity and ownership management, has raised $448 million from investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Carta is valued at $1.7 billion, after a $1 billion jump in valuation over five months elevated it to unicorn status.
As he told the Business Insider correspondent Shana Lebowitz, the hardest part for him in building these decks was crafting a narrative he could explain in the limited amount of time he had with investors.
“Great pitch decks are about telling stories,” Ward said. Those stories take investors from the inception of the idea all the way to how the world would look if the idea were implemented.
Bill Gurley, a Silicon Valley investor known for his investments in startups like Uber, GrubHub, and StitchFix, writes that “VCs believe that better storytellers make better entrepreneurs.” The story they tell has to be compelling, interesting, and digestible.
Founders can better convey all of those elements with what Ward called the most essential slide: the domino chart.
“Almost all great pitch decks have a form of this,” Ward said. “It’s a road map of market penetration. Every domino chart for a company will be different.”
The domino chart tackles the question “How will you increase the market?” Founders should communicate their answer to this through the chart and ultimately get investors involved who believe that they can do it.
“Pitching is not a convincing exercise — it’s a filtering exercise,” Ward said. “In the early stages of a startup, investors want to work with companies that they get excited about.”
The domino chart can generate that excitement among investors, and putting it together helps founders understand their long-term market. If you’re creating a pitch, including a domino chart could elevate your deck from good to great.