pitch deck needs a narrative as its central pillar. That narrative should be relevant to your business and persuasive to investors. The problem, however, is determining the foundation on which to build your solution, its value proposition, and its market strategy. You must understand the reason your business exists.

Albert Einstein

‘If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and five minutes resolving it.’

Einstein himself said it: you need to define the problem before you can have any hope of finding a solution. In a pitch deck, you define the problem your business solves on a problem slide, which is a part of the business problem and solution section.

At its core, what is a problem slide?

The primary goal of the problem slide is to show the essence and magnitude of the problem experienced by your customers. The problem should be real, concerning, and relevant to the industry in which your business operates. Its existence and impact must be supported by statistical and empirical evidence.

If you can confidently forecast that the problem will become more of a problem in the future, even better.

What problem does your business solve? Let’s find out!

What problem am I solving?

As with anything perfectly executed, preparation is your first step in presenting the problem.

Obviously, you understand that there is a prevalent problem in your industry. Before you can present the problem, it is crucial to research and ultimately understand that problem in as much depth as possible.

Achieving such an understanding is a five-step process that involves answering several questions:

  • Establish the need for the solution: What problem does your business solve?
  • List the obstacles your customers face: How can they achieve their desired outcome?
  • Study the scope of the problem: How many are affected? How are they affected?
  • Define your market and target audience: Who will benefit from the solution?
  • Understand how existing solutions fail: How is your solution superior?

Methods for identifying customer problems

There are several ways to gain insight into this research:

  • Share an online poll to reach a broad audience cohort.
  • Ask willing customers, peers, and community members about their pain points.
  • If you already have an MVP, collect user feedback.
  • Conduct thorough market research through competitor analysis.

By identifying underlying problems that need to be solved business ideas, you’re in a position to outline how the solution addresses those obstacles, solves problems, and makes customer lives easier.

Opportunity slide
The Opportunity slide, example

In this problem solving idea for a startup, one of Waveup’s clients – a vegan restaurant chain –presented their problem as an opportunity. This opportunity was based on the growing popularity of vegan food with no adequate supply, signalling an outspoken market demand. The ambition is clear in this startup idea of the problem to solve: take advantage of a vast market by filling the gap for a vegan-based chain in the UK to become a category leader.

At this point, you’re ready to create your problem slide.

How to create a compelling problem slide

After completing research, your job is to set the scene. To do this, you’ll need to identify an existing global problem that your solution fixes and draw focus onto it. Start by defining a single, key statement, then support it with two prevalent pain points.

Ask yourself: What problem does my business solve?

When you’re creating your pitch deck, you can take inspiration from the following problem solving startup ideas:

  • Illustration of your problem should be backed up by facts.
  • Real use cases and actual quotes develop trust and relatability in an audience.
  • Outward expression of the prominence of the problem and how it’ll grow is important.
  • Graphs and diagrams are essential design components for grabbing an audience’s attention.

The problem you present should be based only on facts. It must be a real situation that is currently happening – something an audience feels, understands, and relates to.

There are only two ways in which you can assert facts in a problem slide. The first is achieved through quantitative, statistical data, whether it’s the percentage of participants who report feeling a problem or an industry-specific figure shedding light on problem.

But words are not enough. The second way to visualize facts and statistics is by placing them on a graph. It becomes easier to compare statistics when they are visualized in this way.

Take a look at the following example of an effective figure:

Problem slide
The Problem slide, example

This example is lifted from the pitch deck of a dental app, and it works. The image opens with a global issue, outlining how prevalent tooth decay is in children. Beautifully, this problem slide then offers reasons for the problem in the form of visualized, statistic-based facts. Minimal, easy to understand, and relatable. The problem narrative is made coherent in a few dozen words and a single image.

What to avoid when creating a compelling problem slide

With comprehensive research backing you up, it’s relatively easy to prove your problem based on the elements we’ve provided. That said, knowing how to present a problem slide is only half the fight.

The other half is knowing how not to present a problem slide.

  • Do not address a problem that is too small or too complex.
  • Do not address a problem in too many words or with too much technical jargon.
  • Do not address too many problems on the same slide.

The problem must be an acute, global issue faced by a wide enough cohort of the population to be relevant. If not, investors will recognize that there is simply not enough demand for the solution.

Similarly, impact is lessened when too many problems are addressed. Each problem is diluted as you add more. Your message should be strong and simple. The business problem and solution section of a pitch deck should have an impact on readers.

I’ll say it again: The design of your problem slide is key.

With too many words or too much technical jargon, your problem slide becomes too busy and the message gets lost. Conciseness is essential for persuasion.

Problem slide
The Problem slide, example

In this problem solving startup idea from Hologram, the problem is difficult to grasp. Connectivity and devices of the future are both broad categories. Furthermore, supporting statements could be backed up with statistical evidence. The designer should have included information such as the number of devices that were lost due to connectivity loss, specifics around import-export complications, or downtime statistics.

More examples of perfect problem slides

Inspiration always helps, so let’s take a look at how real founders present their startups’ problems to solve.

Problem slide
The Problem slide, example

This example clearly outlines a specific problem. Its layout showcases different aspects of the problem, and each point is supported by a statistic.

Problem slide
The Problem slide, example

This striking example proves that minimalism makes maximum impact. The designer has focused on just one issue, getting their message across in just two sentences… even without statistical evidence.

Does your pitch deck not gain enough traction with investors?

The issue could be that you’re not researching the problem enough. Perhaps you’re addressing too many problems, you’re making the problem slide too busy and complicated, or you’re not designing slides with graphs and charts to visualize the problem. You’re not taking problems that need solving business ideas into account.

A problem slide is the starting point for your business narrative, and the narrative is a central pillar of your business’s fundraising potential.

Think about it: What problem does your business solve?