Both in the B2C and B2B industry, marketplaces have reshaped how we purchase online. They are flourishing in all verticals today, from large-scale consumer markets to B2B niche sectors. Whether you are raising VC money, angel capital or government grants, you will have to prepare a rock-solid marketplace pitch deck for your startup.
Whilst every marketplace is unique, we strongly recommend to follow in your pitch deck a clear structure vetted by dozens of high-profile VC firms globally. Having a powerful and clear pitch deck will maximise your chances of raising capital from potential investors.
In this article we walk you through the 14 slides you must have in your Marketplace pitch deck and what they should include. Read on.
Which slides should you include?
Every business is unique. Yet, venture capital firms and investors alike all agree on a common structure which we have laid out below.
Your Marketplace pitch deck will likely be slightly different depending on whether you are pre-seed, seed or Series A+. Indeed, if you are pre-revenue for instance, you might not have early traction at all.
Another example is for pre-seed startups which haven’t yet found product-market fit: they might not have a clear roadmap nor a tech stack.
As rule of thumb, the more advanced your startup is the more content you should have in your pitch deck.
Beware of endless, repetitive presentations: have clear titles, separate slides for each different topic.
We have laid out below a verified, clear structure you should follow for your Marketplace pitch deck. The structure is valid for any type of Marketplace startup: pre-seed to Series A+. Still, we highlighted with “optional” the nice-to have slides.
In other words, if you are seed or Series A+, follow the 14 slides structure. Instead, if you are pre-seed, use the 12 must have slides only.
Marketplace pitch deck slide structure
- Revenue model
- Traction (nice-to-have)
- Roadmap (nice-to-have)
- Financial Plan
- Funding Ask
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Slide 1: Title
This is the front page of your presentation.
Make sure your product or value proposition is clear from the outset: use a screenshot of your marketplace main page, or an image of your end-user application or instance.
Slide 2: The Problem
This is the “why” of your business.
The greatest businesses are solving big problems, yet they aren’t necessarily obvious. For instance, your marketplace might be in a niche B2B market and digitalising a legacy industry (health supplies for private clinics for instance). As such, you are solving an important problem for private clinics: the lack of product information, choice and unfavourable bargaining power from large suppliers.
Ideally you would list the 2/3 friction points you aim to fix. For instance, digitalisation usually fixes multiple problems at once: it is fast, seamless and accessible (vs. slow, prone to errors and non-readily available / accessible solutions).
Slide 3: The Solution
Your startup builds and commercialises a product and/or a service which solves the problem laid out on slide 2. This slide should not explain in detail your product nor how it works. Instead, focus on the benefits for your customers.
Ideally, you should compare the pain points explained on slide 2 (the problem) to the benefits your solution brings to your customers. That way, it is crystal clear to investors your solution really adds value to potential customers.
Following our marketplace example above, the benefits could be:
- Availability of products and comparability: clinics can choose exactly the product they are looking for, easily comparing features vs. alternatives
- Price competition ensuring best price-quality ratio
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Slide 4: Market Opportunity
Here, you need to clearly identify 2 very important metrics:
- Market size: how big is your market?
- Market growth: how fast does your market grow?
If you are operating in a niche market, chances are that you will face some challenges: the information might not be publicly available. In any case, you should be able to make a high-level estimation of your market. Read our article on market sizing and how to estimate TAM, SAM and SOM for your startup.
When looking for these metrics, you have multiple sources of information: public reports, specialised press, etc. Even public companies publish press releases and annual reports including some of their proprietary market estimates so be sure to look there too.
Slide 5: Competition
This slide must show 2 different things:
How fragmented is your market?
Are there 3 big players sharing 90% market share or thousands of small players? Here, refer to public market reports and your own understanding of the competitive landscape.
A few questions you could ask yourself, among others:
- Who are your competitors?
- Are they local, regional, national or global?
- Are there any marketplace already in your industry or suppliers only?
- What’s the bargaining power of suppliers vs. buyers?
Where do you position yourself vs. competition?
Is your solution a game changer other competitors don’t have (yet)? Do you have competitors with similar products/services?
Ideally, you would create a small table with, for each type of competitors (e.g. wholesalers, marketplaces, direct suppliers, etc.) the main characteristics they share or not. For instance, do they all a global presence? Do they cover all the products you offer? Are they selling multiple brands / suppliers products? What is their relative price positioning (expensive vs. accessible)?
Slide 6: Revenue model
This slide is very important. Now that we have clearly identified the problem you are solving and the benefits of your solution, let’s have a closer look at your product.
This is where you clearly explain 2 key things:
Which products/services do you offer?
Marketplaces typically act as intermediary between sellers and buyers for specific products and/or services. Unfortunately, the global marketplaces like Amazon are exception to the rule here.
Here you will need to explain clearly what is your product offering: what services/products are you focusing on? Ideally, you would show a breakdown in terms of orders or revenues (pie chart for instance). Indeed, using our health supplies B2B marketplace example above, you might only focus on disposable health supplies (and not heavy medical equipments) for instance.
Another key information to add here is the average order value: what is the average value of the products? Are products transacting on your marketplace $50 piece second-hand clothing or $20,000 specialised industry rental machinery?
Marketplace are generating revenues from a number of sources, usually there are 3 main sources:
- Commission revenue: the main source of marketplaces. Marketplaces generate commissions revenues from 2 sources: either percentage of order value (for instance 10% of all transactions’ value) or a fixed fee instead (for instance $20 per transaction)
Note: the sum of commission revenues as a percentage of total transaction value (gross merchandise value) is usually referred to as “rake” or “take rate”. For a refresher on the 10 most important marketplace metrics, read our article here.
- Subscription revenue: you offer a tiered system, freemium or not (free plan) users need to pay for (monthly or annual billing cycle). You can charge either sellers or buyers (or both) for accessing the marketplace
- Additional revenues: marketplaces can sell add-on services such as promotion & content (e.g. promoted ads), white-label products, marketing and branding services, etc.
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Slide 7: Product
Here we need to explain clearly how your marketplace works, both from a supplier’s and a buyer’s perspective.
Be careful not to go into too many specifics though: investors aren’t always engineer by training. Do not put things like the programming language you have chosen (e.g. React, Python) or the database provider (PostgreSQL, MongoDB). Save it for the voice-over or the appendix instead.
Instead, include things such as:
- whether you have a white-labelled solution or a proprietary back-end / database
- how many full time front/back-end engineers you have
- how much you invested already in your tech
Slide 9: Go-to-market
This slide explains how you acquire sellers and buyers respectively. Depending on the type of customers you have, acquisition will likely be different. For instance, large suppliers (sellers) are usually acquired via outbound acquisition (Sales representatives). Instead, consumers (buyers) are acquired purely through traffic (paid or organic).
The different sources of acquisitions for marketplaces are:
- Paid marketing: any paid digital marketing campaigns (pay-per-click or per-impressions), whether it is search to your landing page (e.g. Google Ads), social media (e.g. Facebook Ads) or referrals. Paid marketing is mostly used to acquire sellers and buyers. As explained above, whilst buyers can be acquired exclusively through paid marketing or organic growth (see below), sellers can also require sales team effort (see below)
- Organic growth: you acquire sellers and buyers without paying for it. Organic growth is typically driven by investment in content (SEO, social media)
- Outbound acquisition: you acquire sellers (or rarely buyers) thanks to your sales team who contact potential customers via phone, emailing or in-person sales efforts. This is especially true for marketplaces who connect a few large suppliers to potential buyers.
Once you have clearly explained your acquisition strategy and what tools you are using (e.g. Google Ads for paid search, social media and content for organic growth), ideally you can show, among others:
- Your average Customer Acquisition Cost
- Conversion rates and its components (add-to-cart rate, cart abandonment rate)
- Your monthly paid ads budget
- The number of followers you have on social media
- Your newsletter count
Note: for a refresher on the 10 most important marketplace metrics, read our article here.
Slide 9: Traction
Only include this slide if you already have some early traction. Traction can be revenues for instance, but not necessarily (e.g. if you have sign-ups, free users, etc.).
As rule of thumb, the more historical performance you have, the more details you should give. For instance, if you start generating revenues 12 months ago and experienced a steady growth until then, include a bar chart of your revenues (or orders, or Gross Merchandise Value) over the past 12 months.
Instead, if you have limited financial performance and/or numbers have been quite volatile, include today’s numbers instead. For instance, how many sellers and buyers do you have today? How many orders transact on your marketplace every day? What’s your month-over-month revenue growth? What is the average order value? What is the rake (or take rate)? Etc.
For a complete list of the 10 most important metrics for Marketplace businesses, refer to our article here.
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Slide 10: Team
This slide is one of the most important: investors invest in great teams before anything else.
The slide can either include the co-founding team only, but can also include key professionals and/or advisors as well.
Include key team members if they add real value.
Also, only include advisors if they are relevant to your industry. Do you have angel investors with significant experience who advise you on strategy? For instance, a PhD who acts as advisor to your Health Tech marketplace startup (on regulation and market access matters for instance)?
For the team members’ details, keep it simple: name, position, years of experience and/or previous companies is more than enough.
Note: add a clickable link to the respective Linkedin profiles so investors can refer to a more exhaustive resume for your team members (if relevant)
Slide 11: Roadmap
The roadmap slide tells investors where you are going and how is product going to evolve in the future. You can either keep it high-level (e.g. your long-term strategy) or more detailed (e.g. the pipeline of the near-future product features).
Investors do not just invest in your product as it is today. For example, you might only have developed a MVP with limited features for early-adopters while your product could be tweaked and serve a much larger customer base in the future.
Also, you might be broadening the type of products you offer in the future. Or you might introduce premium services such as a subscription, or premium listing fees. All of these additional features are very important to add in your investment deck.
Note: if you choose to include your product pipeline, keep it very simple. Your marketplace pitch deck isn’t your product manager’s presentation to engineers. Instead of features, focus on the additional benefits and customer segments you might target as such.
Slide 12: Financial Plan
Along with your product and the team, this slide is highly important. Unfortunately, many startups overlook the importance of financial projections in their marketplace pitch deck.
Think about your audience: investors (venture capital firms or angel investors) are financially literate individuals. As such, they invest in your business to generate returns. Logically, they care a lot about your financials and more especially, the expected financial performance of your business.
Do not expect investors to make up their own plan for your startup if you haven’t. As CEO, founder or entrepreneur alike, you should have a clear idea of where you are going.
As rule of thumb, the more advanced your startup is, the more granularity you should include here. Pre-seed startups might keep it short (1 slide) yet we recommend seed and Series A+ startups to include 2 slides instead.
Common marketplace metrics you should include in your financial plan slide are:
- Gross Merchandise Value (GMV)
- Average Order Value (AOV)
- Seller / Buyer Ratio
- Repeat Orders Rate
- Take Rate
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV or LTV)
For a complete list of the 10 most important metrics for marketplace businesses, refer to our article here.
Note: when presenting your financials, we recommend for pre-seed startup to show 3 years. Instead, seed and Series A+ startups should include 5 years projections as investors will likely ask for it for their own return analyses purposes.
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Slide 13: Funding Ask
All pitch decks have a clear goal: raising capital from investors.
This slide is where you clearly state your ask: how much are you raising?
Read our article on how to determine how much you should raise for you startup. Disclaimer: while raising too little creates obvious problems, raising too much isn’t necessarily better.
On top of the amount, a good practice is to include a pie chart of where you will spend that money over a given period (your runway). Will you spend the bulk of it in product development to build your MVP? Or will you use a large portion in sales & marketing to commercialise your product and find product-market fit?
Our financial model templates all include a cash burn dashboard where you can easily assess how much you should raise, and where you will spend your money. We also included charts ready to be pasted onto your marketplace pitch deck. See how to use our cash burn dashboard here.
Slide 14: Contact
The last slide of your presentation. It has 2 main goals, this is where:
- You open the floor to questions from your audience when you are pitching
- You provide contacts (email and telephone) for investors who would only receive the PDF version of your presentation