Sunset at DoubleM Systems (, Del Mar, California

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pitch Deck: What Investors Want

Are you getting your point across? Probably not.

That is one of the most popular lines in any movie ever made, because it represents one of the most challenging things for a human being: to communicate effectively, so that the other person gets what you mean, and wants to do what you are asking.

The problem with communication is 
the illusion it has been achieved.
GB Shaw

You know what you mean when you say certain words, but how do you know that the person you are talking to is understanding what you mean? Unfortunately, you can never know what another person is thinking, but you can improve the odds that they will get your point if you follow a few simple rules.

Let's assume that you are building a pitch deck which will be viewed by VCs so that you get the money you want. And that last part is wrong. The purpose of the pitch deck is to get the VC to say "Tell me more!"  That is it. Calls and meetings come later, and probably lots of meetings before the cash is released to you. So let's focus on the true purpose of the pitch deck: To get the VC to say "Tell me more!" Nothing more than that. 

Now that we know the purpose of the deck, all other decisions must be made in support of that central purpose. 

A pitch deck is a visual product that tells a story of a profitable investment opportunity.

So what should the visual product look like? Is there a universal  standard that describes what a pitch deck should look like? Of course there is, because VCs want their work to be easy.

Users spend most of their time on other sites. 
This means that users prefer your site to work 
the same way as all the other sites they already know.
Jakob's Law of Internet User Experience

This applies absolutely to pitch decks. 

VCs get tons of pitch decks.
They need to get through them in a hurry.
Anything out of the ordinary is going to slow them down.
VCs don't like to slow down, so they go on to the next deck.

So, over the years of dealing with pitch decks, a standard has been created and this standard will work in your favor.


The standard has been published by Ycombinator,
the accelerator that has worked with 2000+ startups
now worth over 100 billion dollars.
They should know, right?

Click Here for the Ycombinator seed pitch deck template.

It worked for AirBnB, and YouTube, and a bunch of others.
How can you argue with that?

Be creative with your product, your marketing, your recruiting...
but when it comes to raising money, go with what works.

Remember this Law:

Ninety percent of everything is garbage.
Sturgeon's Law

Investors expect to see garbage because that's what they usually get from startups. They see a lot of startups trying to be clever. Avoid cleverness when communicating with people who have the money you want. Show them you understand what they want to see.

For that, we need only to turn to one of the most famous quotes of all time: Occam's Razor.

Simpler explanations are, other things being equal,
generally better than more complex ones.

Among competing hypotheses,
the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.

Pitch Deck Checklists: 
     Pitch Deck Building Blocks