- 📶 Confluence.VC Weekly
- 📶 25 Pitch Deck Mistakes
📶 25 Pitch Deck Mistakes
Things that make your startup look unprofessional
Running Commonapp.VC lets us look at a lot of pitch decks and read a lot of startup submissions.
Here are some things to avoid if you want investors to take your business seriously.
This week's episode is brought to you by:
Brex: The largest modern corporate card
Simplify your finances and take control of your growth with Brex.
Their modern corporate card platform gives your team access to corporate cards, rewards, banking alternatives, spend management, and financial modeling.
There's a reason that 91% of the latest YC batch chose to go with Brex.
Looking to level up your finance team?
Using “Co.”, “Inc.”, “LLC”, or including “DBA” in your branding. Save this for legal documents, but don’t include it when pitching to customers of investors.
Using the word “Global” anywhere in your branding. I haven't seen an example of this working out.
Using more than one-sentence to describe your business. If you can’t explain it to a fifth grader, you have work to do.
Rectangular logos. Play it safe: squares or circles only.
Asking for an NDA. This is a great way to get off on the wrong foot. VCs won’t sign them anyways.
ALL CAPS WHEN DESCRIBING YOUR BUSINESS. This is a cheap way to get attention. If you have to rely on gimmicks like this, it’s because the actual message isn’t compelling enough.
Claiming you have no competitors. Every business does. Being ignorant of them is a red flag.
Filling your deck with lots of text. Less is more.
Including too many slides in your deck. The right number is different for every business, but 15-20 seems like the sweet spot.
Including a competitive landscape that has your business in the top right quadrant and every competitor in the bottom left. This graphic is in most pitch decks, but good investors should be asking why you chose the variables you did for the X and Y axis.
Not being niche with your initial target market. All great businesses start small first. Identifying a small niche of initial customers and expanding from there is a much better customer acquisition strategy than casting a wide net to an undefined market.
Not being able to explain key assumptions. Your presentation is going to make claims that you’ll need to back up.
Unrealistic goals. You need to have big goals in order for investors to back you, but there is a difference between dreams and goals. If you claim you’re going to grow to $1B ARR in five years, you’re going to get laughed out of the room.
Sizing up the opportunity by claiming a small % of a massive market. Nobody actually knows what the TAM is, but saying this can be a billion dollar business because XYZ market spends $1 trillion / year is lazy thinking.
Not identifying the problem early. The rest of the presentation is worthless unless an investor can understand the problem right away.
Not including faces in your team slide. The internet already puts a veil on who a person really is. Attach a face to your name.
Using buzzwords. There’s benefit to learning VC lingo, but relying on hype words (”democratizing”, “scaling”, “optimization”, “AI-powered”, etc.) will only attract interest from those that are easy to entertain.
Using too many colors. This should go without saying, but keep your design and color layout simple.
Not providing numbers. Quantify the problem, provide evidence of demand, build trust through data.
Being unclear on traction. If you are pre-revenue, say that. If you are not earning recurring revenue, don’t claim ARR.
Hiding your product. Nothing sells your business better than an actual demo of the product.
Not understanding the potential risks to the business. All businesses face product, technology, legal, and / or regulatory risks. Not identifying these risks is a blind spot.
Not doing HW on the investor before a meeting. Not saying you should know everything about the investor, but you should at least come with bullet points on who they are, what they invest in, and who they’ve backed in the past.
Not laying out your use of funds. Startups typically raise enough to support operations for the next 18-24 months. It’s your job to model out the burn over that time horizon with the new funding.
Not following up after the meeting. You’ve done the hard part of getting in the door. Don’t let it go cold by not following up.
Related content: Confluence.VC Weekly founder resources
Links we like:
Tweet of the week:
// Why losing money in your 20s is near meaningless and why people who focus on maximizing earning capacity instead are the wealthiest by far //
When I was 22, I lost $30k on a real estate deal. At the time, it was pretty much my entire net worth.
According to every official… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— The Real Estate God (@TheRealEstateG6)
Feb 24, 2023
Confluence.VC Venture Consultants
"I need help" 🤝 "I can help"
There's always a million things to be done working in venture. If you're a solo GP or working on a smaller team, we feel sorry for your sleep schedule.
Lucky for you, our venture consultants can take some of that work off your plate.
Whether you need help sourcing, writing memos, LP reports, or general research, our team can help.
Want to get more done AND improve your sleep schedule?
From the archives:
Confluence.VC Weekly free posts are supported by:
Jasper.ai: The best AI writing assistant
Surfer: Give your SEO strategy superpowers
Brex: The largest modern corporate card
How'd we do this week?
Thanks for reading this far and giving us a little bit of your attention this week.
Feel free to unsubscribe whenever this stops becoming valuable to you.
P.S. We're in Austin this week for SXSW. If you're in town, shoot us a note.