Reid Hoffman's private startup pitching guide

Reid Hoffman’s private pitch deck guidance

Alexander Jarvis

Alexander Jarvis

Startup sucks and fundraising is a nightmare. I make awesome (allegedly) tools and write no BS content to help founders be more awesome and not get taken advantage of. If I can help, reach out.
Alexander Jarvis

Wouldn’t you love to know what a big name VC would tell portfolio companies if they were to write their pitch deck? It’s not something you would exactly have access to normally, right?

Well, good for you. I was going through my Evernote tags for ‘blogs to write’ and accidentally happened upon a note I saved from some time back, which I used when structuring my template pitch deck. You can download it here.

This note happened to be an email I was forwarded from a friend in the Valley. It’s a private email Reid Hoffman sent- I’m not getting into any more details. I never intended in sharing it, but I can’t see why I shouldn’t if it helps one of you hustle your goals. Mr. Hoffman seems to be a top bloke since he opened up his LinkedIn deck, so I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing a spot more.

startup pitch deck reid hoffman

Reid Hoffman’s pitch deck guide

A great pitch deck is concise (15 slides) and highly focused. And in the deck I like to see the following points covered (yes, this is my preferred order):

  1. One/Two sentence pitch for company -value proposition (1 slide)
  2. Brief history – founded when, capital raised to date and from whom, capital needed in new round (1 slide)
  3. Who/Team – give me some context of who you are, your backgrounds, success/failures so I can get an idea of your ability to deliver and surround yourself with experienced talent, also include any board members or advisory board members that may be relevant (1 slide)
  4. What’s the problem? – too often I see pitches where the entrepreneurs dive right into the product and I scratch my head thinking why in the world we need another lifestreaming service or social network or ad network (1 – 2 slides)
  5. How do you UNIQUELY solve the problem? – solving the problem just like everyone else is not exciting. You need to show how you solve the problem UNIQUELY and ultimately deliver a 5-10x improvement for the customer in terms of ease of use/functionality and cost. What this boils down to is your simple product pitch. (1-2 slides)
  6. Product/Tech – make sure to tell me about your secret sauce or core tech that enables you to deliver a unique service – screen shots, overview, etc – could be good time to go into demo in a live meeting (1-2 slides)
  7. Customer traction – is product in hands of customers? if so, how long in market and share some data on users or beta customers or customers (1-2 slides).
  8. Market size/Competitive Overview – how big is the market and how do you come up with that number – how are you positioned in the market – show graphically maybe by offering or value proposition (this is where you get your typical top right hand corner Gartner like quadrant). A sin is to tell me you have no competition (1 – 2 slides)
  9. GoToMarket Strategy – how will you grow quickly and in a capital efficient manner? How will you sell your product – online, direct, or indirect sales? any potential partners signed or game changing partners that will help you deliver? (1 slide)
  10. Business/Revenue model – show me that the economics of your business work – note that single digit gross margins will get you thrown out the door pretty quickly (1 slide)
  11. Financials – yes I know for early stage customers it is at best a guesstimate but give me an idea of how this will grow, what the revenue numbers look like over the next 3 years to give me an idea of how the business scales, and ultimately it helps me understand the true cash needs for the business to get to breakeven (1 slide)
  12. The financing round – c(1 slide)
  13. Milestones-what milestones have you hit so far and what do you plan on realizing during the next year with the new cash (1 slide)

If you cover all of these points the deck should be about 15 pages in length and provide a great overview for potential investors. One other point that I want to highlight is that how you position your business is key. You need to make sure that your audience gets where you fit in the ecosystem quickly and how you are different from what else is out there.


I did a little formatting to make things easier to read, otherwise this is as is.

Hope it’s useful to you? If you have any thoughts, sound off in the comments below!

Do you agree with the layout? Do you think 15 slides is right?

startup vc pitch deck invest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *