Founder Advice
Founder Advice

Building your pre-seed pitch deck? Here’s what goes inside

Pre-seed founders have to show a competitive edge. We dismantle the science behind building a successful pre-seed pitch deck and the make-or-break sections that go inside.

Building your pre-seed pitch deck? Here’s what goes inside

As pre-seed rounds continue to become more sophisticated, investors are spending more time scrutinizing pitch decks than in years past. Raising money successfully means that pre-seed founders have to withstand more scrutiny and show product readiness at earlier stages, and position their companies with a competitive edge.

In this blog, we explain what a successful pre-seed pitch deck looks like, how long VCs spend on each section, and the make-or-break sections pre-seed founders need to include inside. Download our free pitch deck template to get started with yours today.

What is the purpose of a pre-seed pitch deck?

The purpose of a pre-seed pitch deck is simple: to convince potential investors to take meetings with you. It’s one of the primary tools founders use to convince investors of their company’s value, and it lets them structure their company narrative in a way that’s more likely to capture VC attention.

“If it was not for DocSend, we wouldn’t have been able to complete our pre-seed raise in such a small time frame. Using specific links to track document analytics helped us focus our energy on reaching back out to the right investors who were actually interested.” – Alex Simon, Founder at Elude

How much time do investors spend on pre-seed decks?

Our research shows that VCs spend an average of four minutes and 10 seconds evaluating pre-seed pitch decks. While four minutes might not seem like a long time, it is when you consider how busy investors are today and how many decks are sent their way.


pre-seed pitch deck summary based on DocSend data


It’s simply not feasible for VCs to meet with every founder who reaches out. The pitch deck helps investors home in on the companies they’re most interested in and quickly pass on the ones that don’t make the cut. This is why it’s critical to not only create a compelling pitch deck, but also develop a comprehensive investor strategy for your pre-seed fundraise.

What does a successful pre-seed pitch deck look like?

While no two pitch decks are exactly the same, we find that all successful pitch decks are organized into clearly defined sections that tell their narratives in a compelling way. Pre-seed founders rely on this clear formatting, content, and slide order to tell their stories, meet with investors, and successfully raise funding.

What are the different sections in a pre-seed pitch deck?

pre-seed pitch deck slide order based on DocSend data

We’ve found that the best way to capture VC attention is by building an 18-page pitch deck with the following sections (and in the outlined order!).

Below, we break down each of these sections, define their purposes, and offer do’s and don’ts for crafting messaging that captivates potential investors.

Section 1: Company purpose

As the first section of your pitch deck, the company purpose slide should offer a clear, memorable one-sentence explanation of your company’s goal.

Avoid complicated, grandiose vision statements. Clarity is key here: Boiling your purpose down to a single sentence will help hook investors at the beginning so they continue to read through your deck.

Consider different possibilities and run them past other people to make sure your purpose statement is not only compelling but makes sense. Remember: Clearly defining your vision statement can be more art than science.

  • Target section length: 1-page
  • Industry averages: 
    • Average length: 1.3 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 33 seconds

Section 2: Problem

Similar to your purpose statement slide, the second section should broadly define the specific problem your company is solving.

Avoid long-winded problem statements. Explain the problem at its broadest level and use simple, easy-to-understand words that make it easy for anyone to follow along.

Consider whether a VC in a different space will understand what you’re trying to solve and why? Can a non-technical person? Your grandparents? Your problem (and solution!) needs to be compelling and relatable to lots of different stakeholders.

  • Target section length: 1-2 pages
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 2.15 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 39 seconds

Section 3: Solution

Immediately following your problem statement, the solution section highlights how your company is solving the defined problem in a unique way.

Avoid technical product details. Three slides in is too early to get in the weeds of your product. Instead, focus on what makes your strategic approach creative and different than anyone else’s.

Consider the alignment between your problem and solution slides. Try to keep both sections at the same level of breadth and depth while outlining a clear, understandable solution.

  • Target section length: 1-2 pages
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 1.5 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 27 seconds

Section 4: Why now?

An optional section, the “Why now?” slide talks about current market conditions that make your company possible or present an opportunity for your solution. Common examples here might include things such as Covid, climate change, or social justice.

Avoid adding this section to your pre-seed deck if there isn’t any particular timeliness to your solution, product, or company.

Consider the urgency of your problem and its solution. While this section isn’t used by every founder at the pre-seed stage, it can prove especially useful if you can point to the gravity of an urgent issue.

  • Target section length: 1-page
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 1.5 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 38 seconds

Section 5: Product

The product section comes earlier in pre-seed pitch decks than later-stage decks and highlights product features that demonstrate why your company can solve the problem statement.

Avoid taking a light-handed approach to this section—even if your product isn’t GA. This section is one of the most highly scrutinized sections in a pre-seed deck and investors need to understand what your product experience will look like.

Consider going as deep as you can into your product readiness. Include different examples such as wireframes, screenshots, embedded videos, figma mockups, or product feature gifs. You can also add contextual headlines or brief feature explanations to make your product easy to understand.

  • Target section length: 3-4 pages
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 3.3 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 77 seconds

Section 6: Market size

The market size section is shorter than your product section. It clearly defines your target customer profile with a comprehensive analysis of current market conditions and future growth potential (TAM, SAM, SOM).

Avoid understating the true size of your market (and your idea!). Here, you need to show investors that your problem and its addressable market are big enough to warrant an entire company, not just an idea or set of features.

Consider how your market size section connects back to your purpose, problem, and solution sections. The four areas should be interwoven to hook your investors and pull a cohesive narrative throughout the entire deck.

  • Target section length: 1-page
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 1.7 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 39 seconds

Section 7: Team

The team section introduces who makes up your founding team and what their backgrounds are. In the pre-seed stage, VCs are especially invested in individuals as much as they are in the big ideas.

Avoid adding more context than needed. This section will naturally border on being one of the wordiest in your deck so only include extra information if it warrants it.

Consider how to best showcase your founding members’ skill sets using pictures, bios, and their relevant work experiences. Always connect your team bios back to your company, its vision, and the problem you’re solving.

  • Target section length: 1-2 pages
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 1.5 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 46 seconds

Section 8: Business model

The business model section should articulate a clear monetization plan and go-to-market strategy.

Avoid anchoring your entire deck on little more than a cool idea—our latest research shows that this section receives the longest look from investors. Come up with an actual plan for how you can monetize your idea and how it will evolve over time.

Consider your business model long before building your pre-seed deck. Then, map out your monetization plans and product-market fit as you build your product. Give investors a clear sense of how your company will make money and explain your business model in easy-to-understand terms.

  • Target section length: 2-3 pages
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 2.8 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 83 seconds

Section 9: Traction

This section should detail notable traction based on the stage of your product. Traction can include current customers, quotes, and testimonials.

Avoid skipping this section because you don’t think you have enough to show. Investors want to see any early indicators that you’re building the right product. They’ll take into account the stage you’re in but you need to show them your idea has legs.

Consider different ways to show your market traction. At the pre-seed stage, this can include letters of intent, testimonials, customer pipeline, and beta feedback.

  • Targeted section length: 1-4 pages
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 2.3 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 37 seconds

Section 10: Financials

Another optional section for pre-seed decks, the financials section outlines your company’s strategic spending history or burn rate.

Avoid this section if you can address your spending history or projections in the fundraising ask section.

Consider adding this section for your seed deck if you can show how your strategic spending fuels good returns over time. While this section is also optional at the seed stage, investors will likely give positive scrutiny to your financial history if there’s one to show.

  • Targeted section length: 1-2 pages
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 1.4 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 40 seconds

Section 11: Competition

In this section, you want to explain the uniqueness of your product relative to similarly-sized competitors.

Avoid aiming for the big dogs (i.e. the Ubers and Facebooks) in your space. Instead, stand out by showing VCs that you know who your true competitors are.

Consider which companies and products closely compete with yours, paying special attention to companies at similar stages or those who’ve recently raised money. Then, show VCs how your product solves the problem in ways theirs can’t.

  • Targeted section length: 1-page
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 1.3 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 55 seconds

Section 12: Fundraising ask

In early-stage rounds, the fundraising ask is the final section in your deck. It outlines how much you plan to raise as well as your broad plans for deploying capital.

Avoid complexity. Tell investors exactly how much you’re asking for and be ready to defend how you plan to spend it.

Consider which categories you plan to spend money on such as hiring and research and development. Think of your fundraising ask section as the next chapter in your company that potential investors will help you write.

  • Target section length: 1-page
  • Industry averages:
    • Average length: 1.2 pages
    • Time VCs spend here: 40 seconds

Cutting through industry noise with a well-built pitch deck

Framing each of these sections intentionally and cohesively will help you show potential investors the amount of time, dedication, and research you’ve put into building your business. Pre-seed fundraising will only grow more sophisticated and competitive over the next few years, and a clearly structured pitch deck will help you convince VCs that your idea has the potential to be the next big thing.

Don’t leave a successful pre-seed fundraise to chance. Check out our in-depth guide on creating a pitch-deck that gets you funded and our done-for-you pitch deck template that you can start using right away.