In almost a year of research on pitch deck opinions, we’ve uncovered thousands of opposing perspectives in the world of pitch decks.
What we do know for sure is that most startup and investment experts agree that the average pitch deck should be around 15-20 slides. Investors have also been very clear about their expectations in content with certain slides such as the Problem, Solution, Financials, Team, Competition, Business Model, Traction, and more.
And then, there’s the Mission and Vision slide — a slide that doesn’t actually appear very often in publicly available pitch decks that we’ve seen, yet somehow it’s listed as a requirement in most pitch deck 101 articles.
So, we conducted research on public opinions and audited our 100 Pitch Deck Database to discover whether or not the Mission and Vision slides are truly necessary.
We began our search for an answer through a targeted Google search on opinions relating to the Mission and Vision slides.
Since our question is a niche topic, we found little to no resources that directly answered our question except for a brief Quora response (yawn). Out of all the research we’ve conducted to-date, digging up info on these two slides proved to be the most challenging. It’s simply not discussed that often online. Perhaps there’s a good reason… but we’ll get to that.
After roughly two days of research, we only found 15 resources that spoke directly to this topic. In those resources were 23 opinions - some about the mission slide, some about the vision slide.
Of all the resources that spoke to either of these slides most of them recommended that pitch decks include these two slides.
9 out of 11 resources that mentioned the Mission slide believed that an investor pitch deck should include it.
According to online publication Holloway, the Mission can also serve as a “thesis statement” that introduces the startup to investors.
“At the top of your deck, include the key takeaway message that captures your company’s who, what, where, how, and why. Some people might just call this an elevator pitch, others will call it a value proposition, others a mission statement. We think it’s helpful to consider the thesis to be a distilled version of the larger value proposition your company offers. Whatever you call it, this is how you introduce your company. Typically your thesis appears at or near the beginning and end of the deck, and possibly at another key point midway through.”
Side note: for STORY, an elevator pitch is a summary of your pitch deck (usually five sentences), while a value proposition is something we usually refer to as a Benefit Statement or a “Hook.” From what we’ve seen, a Mission Statement is usually high level and vague – while a Hook describes that who, what, where, how, and why mentioned above. The Hook we view as vital. The Mission Statement… less so. Moving on!
Consultant, Melissa Lin, also believes that “[the Mission] slide is meant to convey your company’s ultimate goals, whether you choose to include its purpose, mission, or vision.”
On the other hand, 11 out of 12 resources that mentioned the Vision slide recommended having one.
Entrepreneur, Shawn Miller, explains:
“Another big reason startups fail when pitching to investors is because their vision isn’t compelling. Think of this as your miniature elevator pitch.”
Consultant and entrepreneur, Adam Noar, also claims:
“A quick one sentence overview of your business that proposes the value that you provide to your customers is an essential start to any winning investor deck presentation. Think about this slide like you approach scrawling out a 140 character tweet, and try to sum it up in a way that your parents (or anyone else who isn’t a technophile) would understand.”
Side note: to us, Adam is explaining a Hook.
Online publication, Startup Grind, believes:
“The vision should be communicated in your title slide as a high-level pitch or tagline and at the very end to remind your investors why they should care. After the investors are presented with all the facts, data and validation and if the numbers check out, they would want to hear about why you are convicted to make this work. Remember, at the early-stage, investors are investing in the likelihood that you are the right person to solve this problem. What is your vision? Why are you driven to achieve this vision?”
Venture capitalist, Tim Berry, answered indefinitely in a Quora discussion that debated if the Mission and Vision slides are necessary:
“Only in special cases. I can imagine a scenario in which you can use the mission statement to highlight how much your potential customers need what you're selling, but that's rare. And even in those cases, do not ever just put the mission statement onto a slide as text and then read it. That never works. Instead, if you are trying to use it to make a point in the pitch, find one interesting picture that summarizes your mission statement, and talk about it.”
The key takeaway?
Founders and investors call it lots of things - but the bottom line is that investors need to know what a startup is all about from the very first slide in a concise, powerful statement.
But, we wanted to cross reference these two specific slides with the actual prevalence of these slides in real pitch decks.
Since we already have a database that dissects the data of 100 publicly available pitch decks, we decided to revisit each deck to see if the recommendations of including these two slides are actually being practiced.
However, after our audit, we found that only 11 out of 100 pitch decks had either a Mission or a Vision slide. Interestingly, not a single pitch deck had both of these slides.
We analyzed the year the deck was created, amount raised, industry, and more to see if there were any correlations between these data points. We didn’t find much, but unfortunately, because the sample size was so low, we weren’t able to draw any reliable conclusions.
What we do know is that only 10% of pitch decks included either of these slides.
Below are some examples of the Mission and Vision slides that were found in our database.
In most examples above, the vision slides instantly creates more questions: how are you going to do that? Who will you do it for? The list goes on.
On the other hand, we would actually describe Verbit’s Vision slide as a benefit statement, solution statement, or a hook. Despite its length, it does a great job in clearly describing what the startup does and what they aim to accomplish. It’s clear and direct.
Now, of course, this begs the question...
Despite having glowing recommendations from most of our resources, it’s rarely put to practice according to our 100 pitch deck audit.
Our recommendation? We’re fans of the 15 slide pitch deck for the Seed round.
This year alone, we’ve created over 40 pitch decks and only 1 of those decks have included an official Mission slide. On the contrary, most of them had a vision slide. Unlike the industry standard that only presents one sentence on a slide, our vision slides are an overview of where the business could expand to in the long term.
Instead of a vague Mission slide, consider a powerful value proposition or benefit statement that explains the benefit you provide, who you’re providing it for, and how you’re providing it.
Instead of a vague Vision slide, consider a more detailed product roadmap, or expansion plans that include multi-billion-dollar opportunities.
While there’s nothing wrong with having a Mission or a Vision slide, we believe that vague, vapid statements that are commonplace with these two slides have no place in pitch decks.
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