Pitch Deck Cost and Pricing Guide
I understand that buying a pitch deck is a huge decision. It’s hard to know what you’re paying for, and what it should cost. It’s in the interests of people and companies selling you pitch deck creation services (like me!) to tell you that your pitch deck could be the difference between you raising and not raising, but honestly, there’s no way to tell if that’s true.
I know founders who have raised using a deck they paid $12,000 for, and a friend of mine who raised a $7.5M Seed round from Andreessen Horowitz using a black and white deck that he and his cofounders whipped up the night before their pitch.
My goal is to empower you with honest and reliable pitch deck cost information to help you plan and budget for your raise.
I’ll break it down into two categories
The initial cost of making a pitch deck
The ongoing costs of using that pitch deck to raise money
Really important note: this article talks about cost in terms of money. A massive cost of your raise will be your time. You should figure out how to factor that into this information too.
As you consider purchasing a pitch deck, this cost and pricing guide will help you develop an initial budget and plan for the time and effort associated with each type of pitch deck pack.
Final prices will vary by the complexity of your business and raise type, the types of pitch materials you feel are important, and the pitch deck provider you choose to work with.
Want a comprehensive buying guide that answers not only how much it costs for a pitch deck, but all common questions people have when pitching investors? Join the waitlist for my FREE eBook, How To Pitch Investors in 2023. Get on the waitlist by sending me an email via the contact page here.
Costs of Pitch Decks: A Couple Things to Consider
There are two things to consider when researching the cost of a pitch deck:
The initial cost of making a pitch deck
The ongoing costs of using that pitch deck to raise money
First, let's take a look at the initial cost of a pitch deck to get an idea of how much to budget for it.
Keep in mind that these prices will vary greatly depending on how many people are involved, and how experienced those people are.
More people generally = more expensive.
More experience generally = a faster, more satisfying process, but also more expensive.
People who are really good at creating pitch decks feel that when their work and insights help you pitch in ways that raise lots of money very quickly, that’s more valuable, right? It’s saved you a lot of time and stress. So it’s worth more. There are lots of ways your pitch deck can save (and cost) you time and stress.
At the end, I'll look at the longer-term costs in time and money associated with raising capital.
Pitch Deck Creation Cost Comparison
Pitch Deck: Initial Cost
There are four distinct types of pitch deck creation packages:
DIY with AI co-pilot
Design only - based on copy and slides provided by you
Story + Design + How-to Pitch it
Story + Design + Done-for-you investor outreach
Let's take a look at each to learn more.
DIY with AI co-pilot
The ones I’ve played with are conversational chatbots. Here’s one I’ve experimented with via its Facebook Messenger-based chatbot. It’s like filling out a form, but a bit more dynamic.
It prompts you with investor-facing questions in a certain order
Is prompts you to type or speak your answers within certain word limits
You pay a token amount to gain access to the completed Pitch Deck - and some other investor-facing documents
The process looks like this.
Cost: This one costs $10 for a pitch deck, teaser, investor email pitch, and a startup idea canvas
Upsides: You can’t beat that price (well, I bet you can find something similar for free). The obvious advantage of making your own pitch deck is that you don’t have to pay anyone else, or talk to anyone about your venture until you’re pitching investors directly. The only real cost is your time. It may even be a good idea to do this first, to see if it’s good enough. If it is, great! If not, you can move with confidence onto another pitch deck creation step. It’s unlikely to be time wasted if it puts your mind at ease that you’ve gone as far as you can at the lowest possible cost. It will also get you focused on the aspects of your business that matter to investors.
Downsides: As with all prompt-based AI, it’s roughly as articulate as you are. It won’t add value beyond structuring your story in a particular order within certain word limits. It won’t question or challenge your statements or assumptions. I can’t figure out how to get it to make changes, which would be a problem if I couldn’t do them myself.
Caveats: Basically, if you’ve ever tried to achieve anything with a chatbot, you’ll know the feelings that it can inspire. It treats you and your business as 0s and 1s for better and worse.
I suspect all of these bots are trained on a relatively generic matrix based on ‘good pitch deck practice’ that may help your pitch tick boxes, and get you in line with investors, or it may make it seem old fashioned and, er, machine-generated when it gets in front of a person who sees a lot of pitches and is trying to find something really special. I bank on most investors at every level doing a maximum of 1 deal a year. Will this deck feel like ‘the one’?
Before we go into the next section it’s important to understand that Pitch Gym doesn’t endorse any of these AI co-pilots. I don’t use them in the course of my process. It’s nothing to do with an aversion to this tech. I just find it easier and faster to prompt the founders I work with about specific numbers and the vision related to their business on a well-structured 45-minute call. Then I work with them to craft it via review calls.
Design only - based on copy and slides provided by you
You need to employ a designer. If you don’t have anyone in-house, your best bet is to head to somewhere like Upwork and advertise a job.
If you do use Upwork, here’s a project description for you to copy and paste.
Title: I need a pitch deck designer to make my existing deck look great
Job Category: presentation design
Selected skills: pitchbook
Estimated scope: medium job, less than 1 month, and your choice of skill level - I always choose expert. The job is not a contract to hire opportunity.
Budget: Select ‘hourly rate’ for the ad, but agree a fixed price scope from the designer during the interview process - it’s easy to change the contract to fixed price once you’re clearer about the process
Your preferred talent location: up to you. I usually choose worldwide, but make it very clear that I only want to communicate within my defined work hours.
I am looking for a pitch deck designer who can make my existing deck look great for potential investors.
I have/don’t have logo/brand guidelines/website for you to match.
Please propose a design process with a clear timeline and revision schedule.
I am available to review and discuss drafts in my timezone on weekdays during business hours, and weekdays outside of business hours, and on weekends [delete when you’re not available].
You must be able to provide the source file of the final design. I prefer to work in [e.g. PowerPoint]. Please indicate the cost and process for additional revisions following completion of the initial project.
I understand that this is a DESIGN-ONLY job. The responsibility for the words, numbers and story flow is on me. You just need to make it look great.
In your application, please copy and paste a few lines of a previous client review showing that we’d be a good fit for this job.
[Your first name]
Then: I prefer it to be an invite only job, and spend a few minutes inviting people Upwork suggests who look OK. If you make your job post public, you might find someone cool, but you’ll likely get 50 proposals within 10 seconds and I find that annoying to sift through.
It’s best to give them a super clear brief, and budget/plan for two revisions. It will be most successful if you have existing logo and brand guidelines that you’re pleased with. Designers can generally ‘match that’. You don’t have to put your name at the end of the brief, but if you do, and someone replies ‘hey there’, instead of using your name, you know they probably didn’t read your proposal in full.
It’s best to hire a designer that does a lot of work. i.e. it’s clearly their full time job, rather than something they do evenings and weekends. Don’t expect to see decks they’ve done for other people in the past. Imagine if they shared YOUR pitch deck with their future clients! You don’t really need to see a deck, you just need to see they’re capable of a variety of styles. A designer’s portfolio will be visible on their profile, and you’ll be able to see the range of work they’ve done for others. If everything they do looks the same - your deck will probably look like that too.
Also check how they’re going to deliver the deck to you - you should get a source file so you can make changes. If you have to go back to them for every little change your pitch life will suck (there are lots of minor changes over the course of a typical raise)
Cost: $5-$100 an hour, depending on their experience. They’ll provide a time estimate, but depending on how they work a 15-slide presentation + annex will likely take at least 20 hours for a first draft and two minor revisions.
Upsides: If you’re really confident in your story and slides, this can be a great way to do it. If you’ve got clear brand guidelines and logos etc, it should be very easy for a decent designer to match them.
Downsides: You need to know how to instruct, manage and direct a designer. That is a job in itself - and new relationships are particularly hard. Also, if you have screwed up anything on the document you hand over, that’s what goes on the deck. Designers won’t say ‘hey, you’ve spelled this wrong’ or ‘this is too long-winded and doesn’t make sense’. You will not be challenged. If you give them 40 slides - which I suggest is WAY TMI for a deck, they’ll design 40 slides. This danger can be summed up as paying someone to ‘polish a turd.’ When you see the polished turd, you may be frustrated and tempted to blame the designer and feel they can or should fix it - but basically, it’s your fault.
Caveats: Remember, the completion of your pitch deck is just the start of your pitch process. Your raise is about so much more than your deck. It’s about making it easy for potential investors to know you, like you and trust you as quickly and effectively as possible. If you’re experienced at raising capital, you’re probably in a great position to write your own pitch deck and just pay someone to design it. If not, it might be a net saving to get some input into the story.
Story + Design + How-to
You’ll be working alongside a human. Depending on your personality, you’ll either want a human dictation machine, or you’ll want a collaborative dialogue where the person you work with attempts to understand your business, and the type of investors that will work best with you, and craft a pitch that brings it all together. This type of pitch deck creator ADDS value.
Either way there is usually a process. An open-ended ‘hourly rate’ is possible, but remember that incentivizes the person you’re working with to drag things out. A fixed price indicates a process, and a set number of revisions, and a beginning and an end. IMO, that’s better for everyone - so that’s what I offer with Pitch Gym.
My process looks like this:
I’ve heard of other pitch deck consultants (I guess that’s what we are) sitting on calls with you shaping it in real time. There’s probably people who will do daily calls and more revisions and stuff, but I feel like that’s a waste of everyone’s time.
My process is to download your brain, then go away and shape it in deep work, then show you the results. You need a little time to reflect on drafts - but not too much.
So the costs are the person’s time, and experience, and that of anyone else on the team they work with (so for Pitch Gym, I do the story, and hand the design to one of several designers who I know can do the job - but I’m responsible for the design.)
Ask if the quoted price includes revisions, and whether you’ll have the source documents, provisions for ongoing changes and pitch deck refreshes.
Other people will describe their process in various ways - try to make sure it’s a form, not a formula. If it’s a formula, where they just plug you into a set way of doing things, you may as well use a pitchbot. It’s very common for people like me to say ‘here’s the magic number/order of slides that every investor needs to see.’ That’s bullshit, but it’s a very effective way to turn this process into a formula/product. If I were you, I’d use your discussion time with a potential pitch deck creator to figure out if they see you and your business as unique, or just another data point for their career stats.
Cost: I’ve seen people charge $10-$250 an hour, or $100 to $12,000 for a deck
Benefits: You’re working with a human, they might be able to go ‘off script’ and actually see your business as a unique thing, rather than ‘another SaaS company.’ They might be able to get to the heart of your best investor facing story faster - and it might be different from what you think.
Drawbacks: This is the second most expensive option. A great deck doesn’t guarantee you’ll have an investable story. In fact, by working with an expert who’s seen similar things before, you may realize you need to go back to the drawing board about what you’re pitching and how.
Caveats: Check whether the consultant you’re dealing with is a salesperson or a pitch deck vendor - some of the top-priced people farm all the actual thinking and doing to their team. They may be on the calls, and they’ll have cool hot-takes based on deep experience, but they won’t be thinking about you, your business or your pitch deck at any other time. They’ll be working to sell the next founder on building a pitch deck with them. Then you need to hope like heck that the person actually doing the work in the background is a great human dictaphone, or is adding value in the background. This is basically what happens when you work with a major consultancy company like McKinsey though - so it’s not a red flag. It’s just about making sure you understand what you’re paying for. e.g. if you work with McKinsey you’re paying a bunch of recent grads to learn about your business/industry for $100 an hour for 16 hours a day, then brief their $1000 an hour superiors.
Also, make sure that you know how to actually pitch the thing at the end. A pretty deck, even a compelling one isn’t going to get very far if you’re just attaching it to spray and pray emails. You have to realise that getting the deck is the start of your investor-facing journey. A great pitch deck creator will make you a deck and show you how to deploy it most effectively to get investor attention and engagement.
Unless you want to pay for….
Story + Design + Investor outreach
This is the full ‘do for you’ thing. It's an investor relationship brokering service. This is a broker who will prepare your raise documents, and effectively advertise your raise to potential investors. The deck is both an important and small part of this overall engagement. It’s kind of like hiring a real estate agent to sell your house. It will be a smart thing to do in many circumstances - especially for Series B+ raises. Basically, the main people who do this are investment bankers, but other people will charge you less. Basically, they’re booking you meetings. Ultimately, you’re still going to have to present yourself and your venture in ways that help investors to quickly know you, like you, and trust you. There is simply no way to secure investment that doesn’t involve you taking the lead role at some stage. The only question is when?
Cost: I have never engaged one, but from what I’ve heard it’s a retainer that can be fixed or monthly. I’ve heard of fixed retainers of $25,000- $100,000, and monthly retainers of $50,000. Then you may have to pay a percentage of the money that is raised. I’ve heard numbers ranging from nothing, of 0.75% of the raise all the way to 5%. Fundhustle offers a one-on-one do for you outreach for what seems to be ~$25,000, and also has a group offering for a monthly fee of much less.
Benefits: When your company is a certain size, there’s probably no other way you can do it. You’ll have to hire McKinsey or someone of that ilk. I’ve heard it’s a regulated activity. They’ll get meetings with big dogs.
Downsides: If you’re not working with McKinsey, or your a smaller company, I’ve heard of deals blowing up because of this ‘middleman’ situation. The investors are not interested in having a significant chunk of their investment go to someone they’ve never heard of. For the early-stage companies I deal with, investors are investing in the founders, and actually make it really easy to get in touch. You probably don’t need someone sending out emails on your behalf and booking appointments, because their incentive is to just get anyone, whereas you probably want someone specific.
Caveats: I’d recommend going to a broker with a great deck and a story that you like. They might modify it, but no one should be telling you ‘this is your story, and this is who you tell it to’. Then you’re working for them, right?
A successful pitch deck can cost you nothing if you DIY to $12,000.
It’s best to decide how much external input you need from other human beings, and how you’re then going to deploy the finished pitch deck. That will give you a good idea of the value of choosing from the various paths.
If you’d like to talk to me about a Pitch Gym pitch deck, which takes 3 weeks and costs around US$5,000, book your best time for a discovery call with me here.