October 18, 2014

Pitch Deck Why

I see a lot of pitch decks. Most of them are awful. Seriously awful. The good news is that they can all be fixed.

What is fascinating to me is that the quality of the decks has not improved over time generally. How to create a pitch deck for startup investors is certainly a topic that is easily researched and documented on the web. There is no need to re-invent this even if you think you know better, or that your business is an exception. 

There are no exceptions. In that first presentation ("pitch"), you want to follow all the rules. If you want the soup, you gotta follow the soup-Nazi rules, or "No soup for you!"

Every once in a while I get the chance to review the elements of a good pitch deck with a friend. Recently, a very charismatic and successful entrepreneur who I have known for many years came to me with his new business pitch. In his long and storied career, this is the first time he is looking for investment. So he came to me for some advice and included 12 pages of typed documentation, no graphics. He said he figured I didn't want to read the entire 200 pages that he had, so he only sent me 12.

I thought that very considerate of him, and told him so in my reply which was essentially TL;DR.
Included in my reply were helpful links to resources that would give him the best advice on how to do a pitch deck for investors.

His next email had a pitch deck that was 29 slides long. Yikes! This guy is a friend, so I want to be gentle, so here's my reply to him. A lot of resources tell you WHAT to do but they don't explain WHY, so I thought I would do that in my reply and share it with you:

you are moving in the right direction.

cut out even more, and get it down to 10-12 slides.

here's the point:
the longer it takes to explain it,
the more complicated it sounds,
and the more complicated it sounds,
the more you lose them.

another reason it should be short
is because investors have to listen to lots of them,
and they don't want to waste any more time than necessary
on something that they know early on that they don't want to invest in.

they will know very early on, usually within about 2 minutes or less,
whether they are interested in YOU (first), and
your business (second),
and if they aren't, the rest of the 8 minutes of your 10 minute pitch...
well, that's just the investor being nice enough to continue 
to the point where he can cut you off and say that it's just not the kind of deal he does.

review that last email I sent you with the attachment about what should be in the slides
and the link that shows a video about an ideal presentation deck.

keep it short.
you can not get the money after 1 presentation.
the purpose of the presentation is to get them interested enough to take the next step.
what is the next step?
  usually, the next step is to want to know more.
  that's in another meeting, or with additional slides that you have with you, or that you have in reserve, but you do not want to present all the slides, tell all the story, in the initial presentation ("pitch").

pretend you are pitching them like you would some pretty girl who suddenly sits next to you at the bar.
you surely are not going to score on the spot, but you would like it to be as soon as possible.
if you take too much time getting out your story, she will lose interest and move on.
the next move will be up to her, so the best you can hope for is another meeting.

how are you coming with answering these questions that will be posed to you:
 these questions that angels will have are not answered:
     a. barriers to entry?  (competitors, now and future) patents?
     b. financial projections are unclear, need details
     c. do you have working prototype software, now, that you can demo?
     d. what % of the company does the 500k get them?

this whole process of entrepreneurs pitching to investors has progressed quickly over the past few years. it has reached the point now where the "best practices" are known and expected to be followed. the information on how to do these things is out there on the internet, and you are wise to research, know, and execute the process in the accepted ways, all in YOUR best interest so that you get what you want.

that's my best thinking so far.
i'm always enthusiastic about talking with you, 
so let's set up a phone call when you want.