The founder of a $1.7 billion startup shares the one slide every pitch deck needs to succeed

The founder of a $1.7 billion startup shares the one slide every pitch deck needs to succeed

Carta Henry Ward

LinkedIn/Henry Ward

Carta founder and CEO Henry Ward


Pitch decks are the heart of startup fundraising. When done right, these decks can draw in millions of dollars of funding.

Henry Ward, 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 currently valued at $1.7 billion, after a $1 billion jump in valuation over five months elevated it to unicorn status.

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At a recent Business Insider webinar, Ward walked through the pitch decks he used for a $7 million series A funding round and a $300 million series E round.

As he told BI correspondent Shana Lebowitz, the hardest part for him in building these decks was crafting a narrative that 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.

Read more: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to building a winning pitch deck

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.

Domino chart Henry Ward

Henry Ward


"Almost all great pitch decks have a form of this," Ward said. "It's a roadmap 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."

Read more: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to pitching a VC

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.