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INVESTMENT MEMO TEMPLATE

How to write a crisp investment memo that gets investors excited

This investment memo template and example includes sample content plus simple, actionable recommendations that will help you write a crisp investment memo that gets investors excited. Note that an investor memo and pitch deck outline are two different names for the same thing.

Free Investment Memo Template | Pitch Deck Coach

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What is an investment memo?

An investment memo deck is a 2-4 page document you can use to share your startup idea and investment thesis. It should be clear, concise, and compelling. As a founder, you can use it to attract potential investors like angel investors, venture capitalists, and private equity firms. You can also use it to recruit co-founders, advisors, and early employees.

Investment memo examples

Bessemer Venture Partners has an excellent collection of investment memos for their investments in leading startups like Shopify, Pinterest, Yelp, Twilio, Twitch, Wix, Fiverr, SendGrid, PagerDuty, Toast, and more. Check them out here. They're also included in my Pitch Deck Coach Library.

Investment memo or a pitch deck?

You need both. They provide the exact same information to investors. The only difference between your investment memo and your pitch deck is format. An investment memo is your startup pitch delivered as a 2-4 page document, whereas a pitch deck is your startup pitch delivered as a 15-20 slide presentation. Each section in your investment memo is a slide in your pitch deck.

Some investors prefer investment memos, while others prefer a pitch deck. Compare the Gleamr startup information presented in my investment memo example and my pitch deck example. You'll see they're almost identical. There's no reason for your story to change based on your delivery format.

When should you write an investment memo?

Write your investment memo before you build your pitch deck. Your investment memo is the outline for your pitch deck in the same way a blueprint is the outline for a house. You wouldn't build a house without a blueprint, and you shouldn't build a pitch deck without an outline.

Personally, I wouldn't wait until you need a pitch deck to write your investment memo. I recommend writing an investment memo as soon as you have a startup idea in mind. Documenting your idea in the form of an investment memo will help you think through — and critically evaluate — every assumption driving your idea and its commercialization.

Why do you need an investment memo?

Like a great pitch deck, a great investment memo is an effective way to answer common investor questions like:

What do investors look for in an investment memo?

The same things they look for in a pitch deck. In either case, investors want to invest early in a startup that offers a substantial return with minimal risk. Return means the potential return on their investment. Risks are things that might prevent investors from getting that return. Your goal is to convince investors that your startup can provide high returns with lower risks than other businesses competing for their investment.

Why is growth so important?

Investors aim for a 10-50x return on their investment in a startup. They require these high returns because they know most of their investments will fail, so they need the winners to be big winners to make up for the losers. Since valuations are largely a function of revenue, a 10-50x increase in valuation requires a 10-50x increase in revenue over the life of the investment.

Some of the best startups in recent history experienced T2D3 growth in their early years. T2D3 means 'triple-triple-double-double-double.' This means they tripled revenue in their first two years, then doubled revenue for each of the following three years. If you can project a growth trajectory that resembles T2D3, with strong supporting data, you will get investors very excited. Here's an example of T2D3 growth:

$1M > $3M > $9M > $18M > $36M > $72M

How do investors think about risk?

Investors consider five core risks when evaluating your startup. Your investment memo should proactively address how your startup will overcome these risks.

Stage Risk
What stage is your startup at? Idea-only, no product is the riskiest stage. Product plus customers who pay and stay is less risky. Stage failure is when you're unable to build a product, unable to prove product-market fit (PMF), or unable to grow beyond small-scale PMF.

Market Risk
Is your startup targeting a large, growing market that can drive significant revenue growth? Market failure is when your target market is too small to drive interesting revenue growth.

Product Risk
Do you offer a compelling product with sustainable competitive advantages that customers will find useful and usable? Product failure is when your product is not useful, not usable, or not differentiated in ways that your customers care about.

Team Risk
Does your team have the necessary industry, operations, startup, and technology expertise to launch your business? Team failure results from insufficient leadership in Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Product Development, or Financial Management. Or your team lacks expertise in your chosen industry or technology.

Execution Risk
Do you have solid operating plans in place to efficiently scale Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Product Development? Execution failure results from ineffective planning and execution across any combination of Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Product Development, or Financial Management.

The importance of traction

To paraphrase, traction speaks louder than words. Traction reduces market, product, team, and execution risk for investors. By traction, I mean accelerating customer adoption and revenue growth. Traction shows there is at least a small group of customers willing to pay for your product. Strong traction increases your chances of getting funded.

What should you include in your investment memo?

There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all investment memo template, but this flow is as good as any for most early-stage tech startups.

investment memo Coach Slide Flow

Investment memo overview

Your investment memo needs to address every aspect of your business that you might include in a business plan. Here's what to include in each section:

Introduction

Announce your big idea—the one thing you do better than anyone else. You have 10 seconds to hook your audience. Introduction example.

Investment Highlights

Summarize the highlights of your business and investment opportunity. Provide a teaser for what's to come. Investment Highlights example.

Team

Introduce a team with the experience and expertise to transform your opportunity into a large, profitable business. Team example.

Problem

Describe the problem you solve. Identify your target customers (and users) and explain why they are frustrated with current solutions. Problem example.

Solution

Explain how you provide a better solution and list the unique benefits for customers and users. Solution example.

Product

Show how your product works in three simple steps. Keep it visual. Product example.

Competition

List your competitors. Explain why your product is better than theirs in the eyes of your customers and users. Competition example.

Business Model

Explain how you make money. Business Model example.

Market Sizing

Show how much money you'll make when you dominate your target market. Market Sizing example.

Traction

Prove that customers love your product and are willing to pay for it. Traction example.

Growth Strategy

Explain how you'll acquire and retain customers. Growth Strategy example.

Product Roadmap

Show how you'll keep your product competitive. Product Roadmap example.

Financials

Provide a simple model, with explicit assumptions, of how much money you can make in the next 3-5 years. Financials example.

Funding

Ask for the money you need and explain what you'll do with it. Funding example.

Investment Highlights Recap

Restate the highlights of your business and investment opportunity as a closer. Investment Highlights Recap example.

Contact

Provide contact details for your primary investor contact. Usually the founder/CEO. Contact example

Investment memo recommendations

Now let's review what you should include in each section of your investment memo. I'll start with the Introduction section.

Note: I've illustrated each section with sample content for a fictitious startup called Gleamr. Some of you will know Gleamr as the same fictitious startup company I used to provide sample content for my pitch deck template. I hope the sample content gives you a deeper understanding of what's required of you for each section of the template. I invented Gleamr back in 2015, so don't get hung up on some of the claims in this memo :)

Introduction — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Introduction section

Pro Tips: Use a simple [ product category ] for [ audience ] format. Use a second line to list your primary use case and benefit. Also hint at your differentiation using 'the first' or 'the best' qualifiers.

Sample content using Gleamr

Introduction
  • Introducing the first consumer smartphone app for on-demand mobile auto details.
  • Like Uber, but for auto details.
  • Now, consumers can get professional auto details on demand at their home or office.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Investment Highlights — Investment Memo

This section is often missing from investment memo templates. And yet, it provides investors with a welcome summary of your investment thesis. Include this section and stand out from the crowd.

Investor questions you should answer in your Investment Highlights section

Sample content using Gleamr

Investment Highlights

Here's why we think Gleamr is a strong investment candidate:

  • $2B US market: For on-demand mobile auto details. US only. We have a 9-month first-mover advantage.
  • Robust product: Responsive web + native iOS and Android apps. 2 patents pending.
  • Strong traction: 82K+ users, 11K+ detailers, $1.5M revenue run rate in our first 9 months. 4.8 star average ratings on Apple and Google stores.
  • Experienced team: SaaS and auto detailing veterans from Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, Yelp, and SpeedyDetail.
  • $29M run rate by EOY 2026: With 1.5% market share.
  • $2M seed round: SAFE, 20% discount, $15M valuation cap. $500K already committed.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Team — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Team section

Sample content using Gleamr

Team

Our team has deep, relevant experience in SaaS and auto detailing.

  • Ben Brown, Co-founder & CEO. Prev. VP Sales, Thumbtack.
  • Dakota Dean, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer. Prev. VP Product, Thumbtack.
  • Ella Ellison, Community Manager.Prev. Community Manager, HomeAdvisor.
  • Steve Chan, Lead Developer.Prev. Senior Developer, Yelp.
  • Sara Klein, Advisor. Co-founder, Thumbtack.
  • Dave Smith, Advisor. Founder & CEO, SpeedyDetail.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Problem — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Problem section

Sample content using Gleamr

Problem

Consumers lack an easy way to get a professional, affordable auto detail at their home or office.

  • No single view of all currently available detailers,
  • Few reviews from prior customers to guide selection.
  • No leverage to negotiate prices.

Detailers waste too much time and money finding customers when they’d rather be detailing cars.

  • Hard to reach ready-to-buy consumers.
  • Low ROI on traditional marketing.
  • Hard to collect and leverage customer reviews.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Solution — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Solution section

Pro Tip: Match your solution benefits to the limitations of current solutions listed in your Problem section.

Sample content using Gleamr

Solution

Introducing Gleamr, the first consumer app for on-demand mobile details. Like Uber, but for mobile auto details.

Benefits for consumers

  • Save time: Detailers come to them in their home or office.
  • Save money: Detailers compete for their business which lowers prices.
  • Get a great job: Detailers work hard for great reviews.

Benefits for detailers

  • Save time: Spend less time chasing customers.
  • Earn more: Spend more time detailing cars Gleamr fee is guaranteed ROI.
  • Grow faster: Great reviews + Great prices = More work.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Product — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Product section

Pro Tip: Break your product’s primary use case down into 3-5 simple steps and show the user experience for each step. Add a Case Study if you like.

Sample content using Gleamr

Product

How our app works for consumers

  1. Browse detailers. Screenshot
  2. Compare reviews and prices. Screenshot
  3. Book and pay. Screenshot

How our app works for detailers

  1. Build profile, including photo showcase. Screenshot
  2. Manage jobs. Screenshot
  3. Collect payments. Screenshot
  4. Track earnings. Screenshot
  5. Manage reputation. Screenshot

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Competition — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Competition section

Pro Tip: Only list competitive advantages that customers truly care about. Advantages that will win deals over your competition. The 3-5 must-have solution attributes that would top your customer's RFP if they write one. Group competitors by type. Types of competition can include manual processes, legacy third-party solutions (standalone or modules within a larger legacy solution), legacy home-grown solutions, and other newer startups like yours.

Sample content using Gleamr

Competition

We compete with a couple of slow followers: Competitor 1 and Competitor 2. We win on detailer coverage, user traction, and user ratings. Like Uber vs. Lyft, we expect to maintain and extend our lead via network effects.

  • 4x more detailers.
  • 4x more consumers.
  • 4.8 star average ratings on Apple and Google vs. 3.6 or lower.
  • 3,600+ reviews on Apple and Google vs. ~200 each for our competitors.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Business Model — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Business Model section

Pro Tips: Keep it simple. List all revenue streams if you have more than one. Include a typical transaction.

Sample content using Gleamr

Business Model

Mobile auto detailers pay us 15% for each job. The average cost for a mobile detail is $75 in the US (Source):

  • Customer pays $75.
  • Detailer gets $63.75 (85%).
  • We get $11.25 (15%).

We currently use Stripe for payment processing. In the future, we may build our own payment processor and collect an additional payment processing fee with no additional cost to the detailer or consumer.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Market Sizing — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Market section

Pro Tips: A bottom-up calculation is best for credibility and explicit assumptions. Use customer count x ARR per customer. List sources for customer counts and other data. List the annual revenue opportunity for logical market and/or product expansions to get to $1B and beyond.

Sample content using Gleamr

Market Sizing

We’re tapping into a $2B market (US only). Our bottom-up calculation:

  • 180M US mobile auto details per year (Source)
  • x $75 average cost per detail
  • = $13.5B total mobile detail revenue per year
  • x 15% rev share
  • = $2B Gleamr revenue per year

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Traction — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Traction section

Pro Tips: Pick metrics that matter most for your business. E.g. MAUs and DAUs vs sign-ups. Trends over time are more useful than snapshots.

Sample content using Gleamr

Traction

We've experienced strong growth in our first 9 months

  • Users: 10,936 (EOQ1) > 31,714 (EOQ2) > 82,457 (EOQ3)
  • Detailers: 1,533 (EOQ1) > 4,447 (EOQ2) > 11,561 (EOQ3)
  • Revenue run rate: $196K (EOQ1) > $568K (EOQ2) > $1.5M (EOQ3)
  • 4.8 star average rating in the Android Play Store (1.2K reviews)
  • 4.8 star average rating in the Apple App Store (2.3K reviews)

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Growth Strategy — Investment Memo

This section can also be referred to as 'Go-To-Market (GTM)' or 'Sales & Distribution.'

Investor questions you should answer in your Growth Strategy section

Pro Tips: Break out your strategies and tactics by function. Be as specific as possible. E.g. If you mention industry trade shows, list the top 2-3 that you’ll attend for your market.

Sample content using Gleamr

Growth Strategy

Here's how we’ll acquire and retain users and detailers.

Marketing & Sales — Customer acquisition

  • Focused SEO, paid search, paid & organic social, influencers.
  • Refer-a-friend discounts for consumers.
  • Loyalty programs for consumers & detailers.
  • Employee incentive programs for HR and office managers.

Customer Success — Customer retention

  • Dedicated customer service reps for each DMA.
  • Gleamr staffed community message boards for consumers and detailers.

Product — Customer retention

  • Consumer Product Advisory Board to guide consumer features UX improvements.
  • Detailer Product Advisory Board to guide detailer features and UX improvements.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Product Roadmap — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Roadmap section

Pro Tips: In addition to major product features and modules, consider certifications (e.g. SOC) and integrations that might also enhance your competitive position. Include past milestones accomplished.

Sample content using Gleamr

Roadmap

Here's how we’ll maintain and extend our product lead.

  • H1 2023: Launched MVP.
  • H2 2023: Detailer Product Advisory Board Portal + Employee Incentive Program.
  • H1 2024: User Product Advisory Board Portal.
  • H2 2024: Loyalty Program.
  • H1 2025: In-house payment processing.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Financials — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Financials section

Pro Tips: Offer to share your pro forma Income Statement on request including explicit assumptions for revenue and expense drivers. Investors care less about the numbers and more about your thought process in building the model.

Sample content using Gleamr

Financials

We’re projecting a $29M run rate by EOY 2026.

Detailed model with explicit revenue & expense assumptions available on request.

  • Users: 83K (2023) > 247K (2024) > 643K (2025) > 1.4M (2026)
  • Detailers: 2.3K (2023) > 6.9K (2024) > 17.9K (2025) > 37.7M (2026)
  • Revenue Run Rate: $1.5M (2023) > $4.8M (2024) > $13.1M (2025) > $29.2M (2026)

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Funding — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Funding section

Pro Tip: Be as specific as possible on your ask and use of proceeds. Address what you’ll achieve in addition to where you’ll spend.

Sample content using Gleamr

Funding

We’re raising $2M on a SAFE. We have$ 500K committed, so $1.5M remaining.

Prior Funding

  • $300K from friends and family
  • Launched MVP.
  • Grew revenue run rate from $0 to $1.5M in our first 9 months.

Current Raise

  • $1.5M available on a $2M SAFE with 20% discount, $15M valuation cap.
  • $500K committed by Tech Coast Angels ($200K) and Newport Ventures ($300K).
  • Fund next 2 years and get to 600K+ users, 18K detailers, $29M run rate.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Investment Highlights Recap — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Investment Highlights Recap section

Pro Tip: Repeating this information reminds investors what they have read (if they got this far). It also provides them with a ready-to-go investment thesis they can share with their team.

Sample content using Gleamr

Investment Highlights Recap

Our investment thesis (again for convenience)

  • $2B US market: For on-demand mobile auto details. US only. We have a 9-month first-mover advantage.
  • Robust product: Responsive web + native iOS and Android apps. 2 patents pending.
  • Strong traction: 82K+ users, 11K+ detailers, $1.5M revenue run rate in our first 9 months. 4.8 star average ratings on Apple and Google stores.
  • Experienced team: SaaS and auto detailing veterans from Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, Yelp, and SpeedyDetail.
  • $29M run rate by EOY 2026: With 1.5% market share.
  • $2M seed round: SAFE, 20% discount, $15M valuation cap. $500K already committed.

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Investor Contact — Investment Memo

Investor questions you should answer in your Contact section

Pro Tip: Include your phone, email, and a link to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you (and your team members plus advisors) all update your LinkedIn profile to match the story in your pitch deck.

Sample content using Gleamr

Contact

I’d love to tell you more!

Ben Brown, Co-founder & CEO.
949-637-1234 · ben@gleamr.com · LinkedIn

Back to Overview · View memo as PDF · Download memo template

Conclusion

Thanks for reading. I hope you found my investment memo template and example helpful. If you're interested in my help with your investment memo, check out my coaching services.