The Most Effective Charts & Graphs to use in your Pitch Deck: Based on 50 of the most Successful Startups

April 8, 2022 by Kyle Fawcett

If you’re an entrepreneur who’s attempted to raise investment that means you’ve likely had to put together a pitch deck. Or if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you know you are going to have to. I’m sure at this point you have read online or have heard from a mentor that your pitch deck has to “tell a story”... but also don’t use TOO many words… oh and make sure they are moved to tears by your eloquence, and that they know you will be the next Uber of {insert industry here}. Figuring out exactly what to include in your pitch deck can be stressful because you want the most exciting elements to shine through while also ensuring you are providing the necessary information for investors to know the fundamentals. One of the best ways to do both is by using data visualization. Of course, too much of a good thing can still be bad so we don’t want to over do it, but the alternative of reading a pitch deck with no visualization is hard for those who process visually and analytically. 

We’ve done the work of analyzing 50 of the most successful pitch decks from businesses we’ve mostly all heard of, to try and find common denominators when it comes to charts, graphs, tables, and other data visuals so that we can recommend to you 11 that you should really consider including in your pitch deck. Not only that, but we’re going to show you examples of each, how to make them, and what pitch deck slides you should consider using them on. Here at ProjectionHub we have helped nearly 50,000 entrepreneurs create financial projections. Many of which have been used in pitch decks so I think you could say we know a thing or two. 

Let’s get to it. 

Here you can see a breakdown of our findings and how the 11 charts we’re going to cover stack up against each other in regards to how often they were used in a pitch deck that contained data visualization of some sort. 

The Best Non-Financial Charts and Graphs for Pitch Decks

We’ve separated our data visual recommendations into two categories. We notice a distinct difference between charts and graphs used to visualize non-financial and financial data. When we say non-financial that does not imply the numeric values used cannot be a form of currency, but rather the chart is not being used to display an actual or projected financial performance of the company. We think that will make more sense as we get into it.

Line Graph

First up on our list is probably one of the most recognizable graphs out there and that is likely for good reason. The basic line graph does a great job at showing trends over a period of time. You can see an example below how Coinbase used a line graph to show how quickly their platform signups began to grow and it is very compelling in comparison to the trend line before growth took off. 

coinbase line graph example for pitch deck
Example from Coinbase pitch deck on how to use a line graph in a pitch deck

Pie Chart

Arguably the most universally recognized data visualizing is the pie chart. People love simple and it does not get more simple than a pie chart. A great way to show distribution of a single data point spread out of all of the categories that make up that data point. For this chart the example we chose comes from Atomwise’s pitch deck where they broke down the list of projects they have accepted between different disease and biological application areas. The reason a simple chart like this is compelling is because they could have just said they have accepted 775 projects to apply their AI drug discovery program but breaking it out shows how diverse the application of their product is appealing to many medical fields raising the confidence of partners. 

Pie chart example from Atomwise pitch deck
Example of a pie chart from Atomwise pitch deck

Proportional Area or Comparison Chart

If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank before, you know that whenever a bright-eyed founder walks into the Shark Tank and says “Our Industry is $10 Gazillion so we only need to capture 1% in order to be billionaires” that you can expect the camera to pan to Mark Cuban rolling his eyes. Although it can be the source of over-ambitious estimates, it is very important for both you and your potential investors to know how much opportunity exists in the market. Especially if your idea or product is disruptive or novel and may carve out its own market. What’s more effective than putting a really big number down on paper that is hard to fathom, is using a Proportional area or comparison chart in order to demonstrate to scale how large the market is and what portion you hope to capture. You can see an example here from Openfin’s pitch deck where they acknowledge the total market available of 50 million desktop computers but they zone in on how they plan to target a 3 million desktop segment first before expanding to the greater Financial Services segment of 7 million desktops after raising Series C. Although these are still very ambitious goals, when they are anchored against the massive overall market size, it helps anchor investors to a seemingly attainable goal. 

Example of a proportional area or comparison chart from Openfin's pitch deck
Example of a proportional area or comparison chart from Openfin's pitch deck

Bar Charts

Another timeless type of data visualization is the bar chart. Bar or Column graphs can take on many different forms and you should choose whichever works best for your use case and pitch deck design. They can be horizontal, vertical, stacked, grouped, and more. The basic format of a bar chart is that one axis will highlight the categories being compared and the other axis outlines a range of values that we are measuring by. Here you can see an example from Wunderlist’s pitch deck where they are showing growing over a 6 month period in active users on both a daily and monthly basis which provides great context for demonstrating traction.

bar chart for pitch decks from wunderlist pitch deck
Example of using a bar chart in a pitch deck from Wunderlist's pitch deck

Timeline or Roadmap

A very important data visualization that you can see across most pitch decks from successful startups is a clear depiction of the timeline that company plans to take and when they plan to reach certain milestones. This can be very helpful in showing potential investors your plans for product development, plans for scaling, when future raises may be needed/planned, when they can expect to start seeing their ROI, and more. You can see from the Holloway example below that these types of visualiation are much less standardized from pitch deck to pitch deck so they are an opportunity to be creative and include what makes sense for the different items you need to show. This also means that these types of visualizations require some more manual creation but we’ll get into that later.  

timeline and mileston graph from holloway pitch deck
Example of a timeline, milestone, or roadmap chart for a pitch deck from Holloway's pitch deck

Competitor Matrix/Comparison

Last on our list of the most effective non-financial data visualizations is the competitor matrix. The purpose of this visual is to show potential investors who else is active in the market (or overlapping markets) that you are aware could get in the way of or take some market share away from you. Some times these visuals can be as simple as just outline who the competitors are. The more effective versions however, demonstrate comparisons in product features, SWAT, industry similarities, and more. Below you can see two different examples. One from Dropbox who used a matrix approach to outline product features in order to highlight how superior their product would be in the market. The other example from Twine shows more of a spectrum based upon market type. Closer to the top means they are closer to a marketplace than not. And further to the right shows they are closer to a social platform than not. So, directionally you can see where they and their competitors fall based upon that spectrum. 

Dropbox competitor matrix example for pitch decks
Example of a competitor matrix in a pitch deck from Dropbox pitch deck
Twine competition matrix for pitch decks
Example of a competitor comparison spectrum in a pitch deck from Twine's pitch deck

The Best Financial Charts and Graphs for Pitch Decks

Stacked Bar Graph

Throughout this article you have seen us reference bar charts a few times given they are a very popular but effective way to visually communicate data. One of our favorite types is the stacked bar graph. This type of graph pulls double duty as it can still demonstrate growth of a data point over time but can also show more detail as to how the growth is distributing between different segments. For example, in Alamanac’s pitch deck they display their growth in paying customers over two years while also showing how those customers were acquired.

bar chart and stacked bar chart from alamanac's pitch deck
Example of Stacked Bar graph in a pitch deck from Almanac's pitch deck

Bar Graph

I know I just showed a stacked bar chart and I even showed a bar chart on the non-financial chart list, but I just want to demonstrate how versatile and effective bar graphs can be. When analyzing the 50 successful pitch decks and in our everyday experience, we find bar graphs to be a very compelling visual aide. This example is another multi-tasker combining a bar graph and a line chart to show some interesting trends. You can see in Front’s pitch deck example below they outline their quarterly growth in monthly recurring revenue (MRR) via a bar graph while overlaying a line graph trend line showing the growth in the number of companies using their software. Especially in the tech and saas space, MRR is a huge selling point for potential investors and using a bar chart can drive the point home that it’s growing. 

Front pitch deck bar and line graph example
Example of a Bar Graph in a pitch deck from Front's pitch deck

Financial Table Snapshot

One very important data visualization that you need to include and don’t want to over design is your financial summary table. This table is an extremely high level and consolidated version of your full 5 year financial projections. You can see from Square’s example below they included their projected top line revenue (in millions), EBITDA, and EBIT which shows the companies estimated profitability before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are taken out and then lastly profitability before interest and taxes are accounted for. Don’t be fooled there are complete projected financial statements including income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet behind these that are a must have for your business that will be provided in full to prospective investors but for a brief pitch deck this financial table gets to the point. Need help with the creation of investor or lender ready projections? 

Square financial table example for pitch decks
Example of a financial table in a pitch deck from Square's pitch deck

Line Graph

We’ve already covered how useful line graphs are when we reviewed non-financial data visuals, but we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about them again for the financial visuals. There are a number of use cases where a line graph is the best way to visualize financials but I love how Barcoo simply displayed there “go-live”, projected revenue, and projected break-even just 10 months after launch. If you are ever unsure what financial data to visualize, just remember that revenue, profitability, and breakeven are a safe bet to include. 

Barcoo line chart break even example for pitch decks
Example of using a line graph in a pitch deck from Barcoo's pitch deck

Stacked Area Line Chart

Last but certainly not least, one of my absolute favorite graphs to visualize data with is the stacked area line chart. This chart is like looking at a line graph where you can see the overall trend line of whatever number you are mapping out (revenue, profit, CAGR, MRR, CAC, etc) but then you lift up the hood and show what all is making that number possible. The stacked area shows the different segment slices that make up the overall number. Like in Mattermark’s pitch deck example, they plotted out their revenue but then sliced up that revenue area by customer source which at first glance looks like “wow a lot of their revenue comes from one customer source”, but then you realize at one point nearly all of their revenue came from one source. Now, you can see that they’ve diversified so while growing one customer segment they have managed to add more than 8 more segments to make up nearly 50% of revenue which would certainly give potential investors more confidence rather than just seeing the top line revenue.

Mattermark stacked line area chart for pitch decks
Example of a stacked area line line chart in a pitch deck from Mattermark's pitch deck

Now that we’ve shown you 11 different types of charts and graphs that are most effective in pitch decks you should have a better idea as to what visuals you should include in yours. Of course, just because you’ve seen 11 different examples I wouldn’t expect you to know exactly what data you should chart out. In many cases you can use several different charts to plot out the same data point such as a line chart, bar chart, pie chart, etc. but here’s a quick list of data visualizations that we found to be compelling when reviewing the 50 successful pitch decks. 

Compelling Data Points to Visualize in a Pitch Deck

  • 1, 3, and 5 year revenue 
  • 1, 3, and 5 year profitability 
  • Break even point 
  • MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) Growth
  • CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate)
  • Customer churn rate
  • Customer sign ups
  • Customer acquisition costs

Recommendations when creating charts and graphs for a pitch deck

There are two important tips we like to give to founders when they are on their pitch deck journey. First, sometimes putting complimentary data points together on the same data visual can take its effectiveness to the next level. For example, we highlighted a chart or two that showed both a bar chart and a line graph on the same visual. When you are looking through what data you have at your fingertips, look for combinations that feel really compelling. Like the growth rate of customer signups while also showing a decreasing churn rate for example. Our second tip is to just go ahead and graph out a lot of different things because you never know if something will look right until you see it. And sometimes you’ll stumble upon a great visual that you hadn’t thought of before!

Interested in learning how you can make charts like these including a few different tools you can use? Check out out article How to Create Graphs for a Pitch Deck: 5 Data Visual tools. Or maybe you are wondering, where do I even put these different charts and graphs in to my pitch deck? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there as well with our guide Where to put Charts and Graphs in a Pitch Deck.

The pitch decks analyzed for this article:

Shopify, AirBnB, Uber, Fyre, Linkedin, Aircall, WeWork, Tinder, Coinbase, Holloway, Dropbox, Buzzfeed, Wunderlist, 1906, Zesftul, Oscar, Snapchat, Pendo, Youtube, Databook, Equity Bee, Revolut, Barcoo, Front, Facebook, Almanac, CrunchBase, Buffer, Foursquare, Square, Alan, 7bridges, Farewill, Peloton, MySQL, Intercom, Atomwise, N26, Verbit, AceUp, Alyce, Rocket Internet, ArangoDB,Castle, Twine, Careem, Openfin, Yammer, Instamojo, Bliss.ai, Mattermark

About the Author

Kyle is the Director of Marketing at ProjectionHub which helps entrepreneurs create financial projections for potential investors, lenders and internal business planning. Since 2012, over 40,000 entrepreneurs from around the world have used ProjectionHub to help create financial projections.

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