After talking about how to get ready to start raising money for your startup, and the importance of story telling and the demo, now its time to wrap that into the big scary pitch deck.

Before you start to build your deck, ask yourself (and be honest): Are you a successful sales person? Do you rely on your words? If so, then make the deck support those words. Are you less sure of yourself? Then make the deck tell the story.

How do you know which you are? Do this:

Next time you are eating in a busy restaurant, stop your server and pitch your company. If s/he stops, thinks and asks a good question, then your words are the star. If they hurry off or look confused, then make sure your deck is the star.

Regardless, here is a great exercise: Using 6 sides and no more than 15 words per slide, tell your story. The whole story. Make it enough of a story that you could email just the deck and the person reading it would get it. And be excited. Fred Wilson writes about the importance of the 6 slide pitch deck:

We learned to simplify our story and we learned how to create six killer slides. And killer slides are not slides with a dozen bullets each. They are six powerful points that combine to tell the meat of the story.

What should those six slides contain: Here is my formula, but remember your mileage my vary depending on how you want to tell your story:

  1. Show that there is a problem “In the US, the number of comic books purchased at comic book stores has dropped. At the same time, approximately 5-10x the number of books sold are downloaded digitally on torrent sites.” (image the slide – arrow going down with the print numbers, and a huge arrow going up out of a computer screen showing the illegal downloads)
  2. Show that there is a solution “Providing a digital solution allows both comic fans and comic enthusiasts the opportunity to re-enage or experience comics for the first time easily.
  3. Show that you have the best solution. “By integrating ‘extra content’ and social interaction, we are providing an inexpensive legal solution to the problem, that has been downloaded nearly a million times.”
  4. Show that you are the best to execute that solution “Our team is rad, and this is why”
  5. Show how the investor will make money “The market is $6B worldwide and our margins are big.”
  6. Explain how much you need and why “We need $10billion to personally visit everyone on the earth and help them download Graphicly.”
  7. Ask and shut up (not really a slide)

Some think that you should have the team slide earlier in the deck. I believe that the best of both worlds is to introduce your team (they are probably in the room), but go more in depth near the end of the pitch deck.

A couple of more rules:

  • try to get through the entire deck in 10-15 min, but dont follow it like a script.
  • If you get asked a question, then answer it. If a later slide covers the question, then answer it again, briefly, when you get to the slide.
  • Remember the pitch deck is a guide. Its not what you will or will not raise money on.

In the meeting, you now have  a demo to show and talk about, a story to tell, and a pitch deck to help support your story and demo. While it wont guarantee you can raise money, you at least have a framework to start from.

Enhanced by Zemanta
  • Pingback: Pitch Perfect? | </CodeChops/>()

  • Anonymous

    I love the idea – but isn’t that a B2C kind of world? I work in Enterprise software, and the idea we’re been researching is relatively complicated. If you don’t know, and know why, large companies send 1M+ emails/day then our idea is, literally, goofy.

    Things go migrate – 10 years ago it was hard to explain Single Signon (Kerbios anyone?) to the enterprise, forget a consumer. Now you could just say “Facebook Connect for the Enterprise” (and add “in your pants” for @Mcclure) and people would get it.

    I agree with the “fewer words” rule though, for everything PPT-wise.


  • Eric Bieller

    If you only saw the powerpoints floating around my work.. They would make you bonit profusely.. Why do people think that the audience can read 3 paragraphs on a slide and listen to you speak at the same time? Hah thanks for sharing Micah!

  • Eric Bieller

    Hah that was *vomit btw ;) (auto correct I swear it!)

  • If Fred Wilson can raise a $200mm fund on 6 slides, then we as entrepreneurs should be able to raise on 6 slides. It’s really hard to condense the story, but it forces you to understand what’s important…


    Sent Wirelessly

    Micah Baldwin

  • Lol. Yeah, figured I wouldn’t want to have sex with them…decks are such a science and an art.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I suspect you didn’t mean to include your phone number?

    Aside from that … I suspect Fred Wilson could raise $200M based on slides containing the Microsoft default Latin Text: “Lorem ipsum dolor ….”


  • My phone number is all over the place.

    One would think, but I know many successful VCs, and it’s never as much of a slam dunk that people think is.

  • Thanks Micah, great stuff. I’ve got a few pitches coming up and will definitely take this all into my planning.

    On a slightly separate note, do you have any useful knowledge/advice to pass on for writing a good exec summary? I’m not a big fan of business plans in general, but a few people have asked for an exec summary and I thought that working up a 1-2 page doc may not be a bad counterpart to the deck. Thoughts?


  • We just avoided the Exec Summary as much as possible. I usually just used
    the 6 slide deck. But keep the same mentality. 1-2 pages, answer the same

  • Pingback: Pitch Perfect – Keep it Simple, Stupid | Accounting and Small Business /Beverly Shares()