027. Don’t Make Me Think, Don’t Make Me Work

VC Minute
My number one rule for pitching and pitch decks is: Don't make me think. Don't make me work. Here are six examples.

VC Minute – quick advice to help startup founders fundraise better.

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My number one rule for pitching and pitch decks is: Don’t make me think. Don’t make me work.  

The pitch deck that you email ahead should be fully self-contained. It should tell a compelling story that even the broiest of bros can follow.  

Founders, you’re so deep in your business that it’s easy to simultaneously omit details that would be important to someone coming in cold, and go too deep on other aspects of your startup. So now you’ve got an investor who doesn’t even understand the fundamentals of your business trying to decipher your dissertation. 

Besides. The first time an investor opens your deck they’re probably skimming it, probably on their phone, maybe during a meeting. Expect that your pitch deck doesn’t have their full attention the first time through.  

But even on an investor second or third read through, they need to make a business decision. Should I spend more time on this pitch deck?  Should I spend more time on this founder? Should I spend more time on this business? 

If they’re lost in your pitch deck, if they’re not understanding it, if they’re not following it, if they’re annoyed because they can’t figure it out, you are not going to get an email back from that investor.  

This is why I say, “don’t make me think, don’t make me work.” 

Here’s six things in my “don’t make me think don’t make me work” list. 

  1. Using acronyms, only someone from your industry would know. 
  2. Discussing multiple concepts per slide, revenue model, market opportunity, customer quotes.  All of those go on separate slides.
  3. Charts with missing labels. Don’t even get me started. 
  4. Not succinctly explaining what the hell your business does. 
  5. Not showing how you make money or plan to. 
  6. Making bold statements unsupported by the rest of the deck. 

Building a deck is an iterative process. It’s a storytelling process. Send it out to startup friends, send it to current investors, trusted service providers, or any folks in the startup community that will take a look at it and give you some feedback.  

Get critical feedback. Push for more than just, “yeah, it looks great.” No. If it’s the first time you sent it out, it doesn’t look great. You need to get feedback on it. 

And for the love of IPO, put your email in the deck.

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