Tl;dr: Basic intro to pitch decks and the 5 main types of pitch deck material you can make
Cool! So you’re about to raise, or want to at some point and are thinking… um, what’s all this pitch decky stuff I keep hearing about?
Trust me, I didn’t have a clue either.
What matters is you learn. You weren’t born knowing everything! I’m going to help you go from zero to, well not hero, but not a n00b anyway, ha! I’m straight up.
I’ve spent way too much time with decks so I couldn’t help but get my head around them. They’re no more fun for me to write now, but there IS A FORMULA!
In this course, I promise you only two things:
- You will not make one rookie mistake that makes VCs think you are a muppet
- You will make a deck that will not suck (I can’t promise it will be amazing though)
This may seem like a low bar of a promise, but buddy, you’ll be ahead of 80% of founders already. Your deck(s) do not need to be perfect, they need to not suck.
I am not going to teach you about the content to include and how to actually write that. That’s another series. You’ll learn how to think about your deck.
So what are we going to cover in this course?
This was originally an email course but founders kept asking for all the emails at once, so I’ve put them up on my blog. Boom beatches!
There are 11 parts to this course. You can click through them one by one:
- What pitch material do you need?
- What is a good deck?
- The importance of narrative
- What are the key questions investors will want to get from your deck?
- How to approach writing decks
- The flick test
- Who do you trust with the pitch deck? Can I have an NDA?
- How do you know if your deck is good?
- How to send your deck to investors
- Formatting your deck
- 25 tips
If you can’t face them all at once, you can join the course and get these sent straight to your mailbox here:
Ok. Let’s just get into part 1. I know you hate BS filler as I do.
You need a pitch deck
You’re raising? Yes, you need a deck and it needs to be decent and a little pretty too.
The only exception is if you are famous and had an exit. I know people like the founder of Secret who did not have a deck… but they didn’t need one. You are not that guy.
Here’s David telling me that fact.
Don’t trust me, here’s what a dude I know at a VC in London thinks:
As an investor, having a well-designed deck is critical. If I’ve never met the founders and a mutual acquaintance first put us in touch, it is the deck that acts as the first impression and hence, it is very important to make it count. A poorly designed deck makes me feel like the founders don’t take pride in their work.A well designed deck is able to communicate clearly what the company is doing and why I should be excited to take the first meeting. So never discount the importance of spending time to get the best design possible for your deck. It will only increase the likelihood of getting in front of investors. — Scott Sage, Venture Capitalist
If you need help with your pitch deck, head to Perfect Pitch Deck. That’s my expert-level business.
Why do you need a good deck?
- Information asymmetry: VCs probably don’t know you. All they have to go on is what you send them and their interactions. This means they (like girls on a first date) are judging every little thing (like your shoes) and magnifying those observations. They know you will always know more than they will. Bad spelling reads ‘poor attention to detail‘.
- Deck hell: Most VCs get up to 1000 a year. Huge ones like a16z around 2000. They are soooo boring to read. You think you are special, but you are not. You care about your deck, investors do not give a single turd. They want to find unicorns, not your essay. A deck is an easy filter
- They can learn a lot from decks: Just read this blog. I drop some real knowledge about why to send a deck upfront
- It is a visual representation of you and your opportunity: If you can’t write a good deck, do you have the skills to build a startup? Really, that’s what they think
There are other reasons, but you get the point?
Tools have a purpose
You don’t use a hammer for a screw.
You don’t use a 60-page tome as an intro.
You need to have multiple documents that are fit for their purpose.
Understand that investors don’t care till they do. When they are thinking of writing you a fat check, then yeah, they will read your data room, and that 60-page doc is pretty useful. The fundraising process is about the escalation of commitment.
What docs do you need?
I’m focusing on pitch material here, not models and the process, but:
- Teaser: This is maybe two pages, typically made in Word. I hate Word, but people use it. It’s a super high-level overview of what you do, the market (target customers and geography), stage and how much raising, team, key metrics, how you are special etc. There is nothing confidential in here at all. You’d probably be happy to post it online?
- Short deck: This is the first ‘deck’ you send investors. Maybe you skip the teaser and send this instead (my preference). It’s 10-15 pages that deal with all the key things that matter (There is a list). It’s made in keynote/ppt. You may prefer not to post it online when you think about the contents. There is NO super confidential info here though. You should assume your competitors will read it. NEVER write a ‘business plan’ in Word. Never.
- Information deck: This is basically all your slides. You share it when the investors are a little bit pregnant and thinking of doing the deal and are really digging in. At this point the investor is pretty committed, so more information is useful to help them wrap their head around the opportunity. Other materials like broker notes could be shared. Anything you make especially for an investor can be chucked in here (like SEO analysis)
- Business model deck: I invented this. Basically, no one likes financial models and what matters (At the early stage) are the key drivers/assumptions. In this, I map out all the key revenue and cost assumptions and say “Yes, we have a financial model, but I’ve mapped out all the key assumptions here in this doc. All that matters is here. If we can agree on what matters, then the model just supports it. Let’s have a chat about what we see as our key drivers.“
- Forward-able email: This isn’t strictly material, but you need one to give to anyone who will intro you to an investor and pass on this material. So write up a template… you’re going to use it! It should be very to the point and sell. Here is an example from a guide I wrote on raising. It’s a bit on the short side, but you get the point:
There are other kinds of material you ‘could’ have. If you want to read more about fundraising material, check out this blog.
A metrics deck is one example. You can see an example of a metrics deck from Rippling here.
Where do you save all this?
Simple. Set up a Dropbox account (if you don’t already) and save everything in a ‘final’ folder.
Clearly label each document so you don’t send the wrong one by mistake. You can also have the forward-able email saved in a Word doc so you have it to hand.
There are all the pitch docs you need. Now you need to make them 😉 Yay!
Yes, investors will ask for other, specific information, but these are the basics you need.
To read the next installment, click here: What is a good deck?
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