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The solution slide is strategic, while product is tactical
There are a thousand different ways of telling the story of a startup in a pitch deck. The order of the slides can differ, the slides you choose to include can vary, and the aspects of the pitch you focus on can vary dramatically from company to company, depending on what’s unusual about the product or the market or the stage of the startup.
A lot of the time, I advocate including both a solution slide and a product slide as part of a pitch deck. To do that effectively, you need to know the difference between the solution and the product in the context of a VC pitch.
To get to that, we need to rewind slightly. As Steve Blank would define it, a startup is a temporary organization in search of a repeatable business model. The key part of that definition is the “searching” aspect — which means that you are essentially building a company that is nimble and flexible enough to be able to experiment way faster than any of the competitors can. As an early-stage startup, you’ve assembled an incredible team that is uniquely qualified and deeply knowledgeable about a particular market. From the market knowledge, the team has formulated a problem it has observed in the market and wants to solve.
The thing is, you’re still a startup, and you’re still looking for the business model that makes the most sense. This is where the solution and product slides come in. Put very simply, your solution slide is the strategy for how you’re going to solve the problem. Your product slide is the tactics you’re using to implement that solution.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty about the difference between these two slides and how to wrap a compelling narrative around them.