Tl;dr: Learn why pitch decks suck and what makes a good pitch deck when fundraising.
Pitch deck thinking course outline
You are now on part two of the pitch deck thinking course.
- 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:
The importance of narrative in a pitch deck
Most decks suck.
FML, they are generally pretty painful. Can you imagine having to read them for a living? They’re called investors.
What gets me is there really is not a reason that they need to.
Of course, that assumes you have all the insider knowledge?
Hopefully, you will soon.
Why do pitch decks suck?
- Founders don’t care: Like, they don’t think decks matter. ‘I just need to get in the room to close!‘ Only you aren’t getting in the room without one.
- Too detailed: There is a syndrome I suffered from called ‘I only have one shot to put all the info in the deck, otherwise I won’t get funded-itus.‘ This means you spend tonnnnesss of time writing the perfect deck… only to find no one reads it. Long decks are a bore. One finds it’s way into my inbox and I think ‘fark… do I have to read this beast? I’ll save it for later‘ (only there is no later). You want them to read it quickly and give a quick yes/no email response
- Too much text: The worst. “Everyone wants to read an essay!” No. No. No one wants to read it. You can have a paragraph in a supporting text of an image (where it is not made prominent). You cannot have a page of paragraphs. Believe me, I DO NOT want to read a page of text, let alone 20 pages of drivel
- Poor copy: Cut out all words that don’t sell. I want the key point, not all the rubbish sales crap you tie on to it. And dude, not big fancy words (What I call $2 words). I want to read the WHOLE slide in about 5 seconds. That’s it!
- Buzz words: annoying. Social, local, mobile, AI powered, blockchain bull$hit.
- No story: You prob read the Sequoia format and print ‘problem, solution, market size…‘ on each slide, right? No. That was a header for what is meant to be on the slide, not the title! Rookie error. Each slide should be a progression. Each header should tell a progressive story that leads to one conclusion… ‘this seems pretty cool! Let’s meet.‘
- Ugly as Shrek: I don’t know why but Indian decks and websites are just worst than everyone else’s and by a massive amount… it’s like they try to be ugly! This isn’t a racist thing, it’s empirical evidence. If you have a decent template, it’s hard to not feck them up. Just have one font type, format simply and use some tasteful images. I don’t get why some people seem to make extra effort to have different fonts, sizes, put things in weird places. Don’t be like that.
- Not VC fundable: Yes, you need to be fundable by VC yardstick. This means a big market, the team needs the right aspirations etc. No one will fund a lifestyle business, unambitious idea, a service or consulting business etc. What’s the point of making a deck then?
- Miss key information: I need to know about the market and your competitors. How you make money matters to me! Who the team is that will be executing on the project is 70% of my investment decision! Your metrics give me an idea for how awesome you are! Why do you not include the things I need to know?
- What do you do?: No joke, I get some decks and I don’t even know what the startup does!?
What is a good deck?
Opposite of above 😉
- Fit for purpose: It’s just long enough to get the message across. No more no less. The bears had the right idea with their porridge. Your only goal is to get a meeting and interest. This is NOT your only shot to share information, so don’t write anything that doesn’t matter
- Visually appealing: Who doesn’t like pretty? It’s nicer to read, it feels professional and one takes notice. It doesn’t need to be made by a graphic designer though! Things just need to be consistent
- Limited text: Seriously, I hate reading. Don’t make me. Too much text/info is the #1 sin.
- One idea per slide: If you make one big point per slide, you won’t write too much text (as above). “The market is 10-16bn“… Cool, add in a picture and a comment. That’s it! I don’t care about the gender demographics of Germany right now…
- Large font: You’re seeing a trend here 😉 If you have a big font, you can’t have a lot of text! I try to have a min of 36pt for any key point- meaning the headers. Sure, if I have supporting text it’s smaller, but my min is about 28pt. The only exception is ‘Source: JP Morgan, 2017” at the bottom of the page which can be 10pt and grey.
- Show don’t tell: Don’t tell me your team is awesome, show me. Did you work at Google Brain? Is your Daddy a Minister? Be shameless, sell! If you have great metrics, then that I want to see! The more positive your metrics, the shorted your deck can be. Seriously, up and to the right is what investors want to see (other than some costs)
- Trust factors: If you have great advisors, that’s cool, same for JP Morgan saying the market is large (not you), screenshots of your metrics, customer quotes, industry awards, Tech Crunch articles, top tier investors in the previous round… investors love being associated with the best
- Came from a boss: The best deck, however, comes from an intro from a big deal! If the CEO of Google pings an investor your deck… do you think the investor is deleting it, or actually paying attention? (Yes)
- Pictures: Don’t use anything goofy like showing an angry customer to demonstrate pain in the market. It looks weird. Striking images which don’t detract from the text readability can be striking.
Here is an example of a slide from a deck I made for a client. It’s not a typical startup, so don’t read into the content. You can get it from the pitch deck template here.
But do you notice:
- Striking use of imagery
- The large header which is emotive
- Large, to the point supporting content
- Small reference text in the footer
- Consistent style, such as page number
This isn’t a slide you would kick out of bed 😉 There is too much text in my opinion, though.
Actually, this is the first deck I made for a client. How I do things now is so different. I will upload an example of what I do now. I’m just getting up the emails so you can read them.
Btw, please give me feedback if the content is too light/sucks and I will make it better to help you! I know everything so I find it hard to make things basic enough sometimes. No offense. My blog is here to teach so please sound out in the comments. I don’t want you wasting time.
The key goal of a good deck
To drive the point home, a good deck:
- Gets you a meeting
- Gets investors interested and wanting to know more… without glaring large questions
Bonus point: No startup got past a second meeting when the question of ‘market size’ wasn’t addressed. Ensure what investors care about is covered!
That’s that. The next installment is here: The importance of narrative (Tell me a story, daddy!)
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