Pitch Series Part II: How to Approach the Pitch

Posted by Mike McCann on March 4, 2024

A few months ago, we wrote about the problems with the “pitch” for many entrepreneurs. Well, I regret to share that just because there are a few problems with this part of the fundraising process, it doesn’t mean you get to bypass it. There is a time and place for a solid pitch, and this article will outline a few actions and tools you can use to get started.

A Google search for “best VC pitch decks” will yield about 678,000 results in 0.37 seconds. To save you some time, below, you’ll find a few links to well-known firms and VCs and the pitch deck templates they promote. Each of these examples has its nuances, but there are many similarities:

  • They’re short. Mark Twain is credited with saying, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” The same applies to the pitch deck. A long pitch deck packed with a ton of information is not a sign of your business prowess; it’s a sign that you don’t yet know how to distill the opportunity into short, understandable pieces of information. Spend the time needed to make it easy to consume for someone who is not an expert in your field.
  • They cover key pieces of information. Problem/Solution, market size, traction, business model, and more. Investors look for key things as they evaluate their deals. Know what these decision factors are and make sure you address them. Further, these templates may not cover key things about your business. Don’t be limited by them. If there is something truly important, add it— but don’t go overboard and turn it into a 30-slide dissertation.
  • They’re not standalone replacements for you. The pitch deck is a tool to complement the vision and opportunity behind the business. Ultimately, the investors will back the company because they believe in your business model, the opportunity, and—importantly—you. Make sure you know your stuff inside and out. Practice. Don’t jam all the details in the deck, but be prepared to dive into them when asked or have a strong appendix ready to go.
  • They show what investors value. If the firm you’re meeting with has published its own pitch template or do’s and don’ts of the pitch—MAKE SURE YOU READ IT. You should generally follow their guidelines, with minimal updates to fit your business and market. Chances are that those templates are as much a reflection on how that firm processes information and makes decisions as it is a tool for your benefit—so keeping in line with their approach may just improve your odds of success.

To close, we’ll reference famed Silicon Valley entrepreneur, author, and VC, Guy Kawasaki, who writes correctly that “[t]he purpose of a pitch is to stimulate interest, not cover every aspect of your startup and bludgeon your audience into submission.” Guy continues that, simply put, “your objective is to generate enough interest to get a second meeting.”  

No one is handing you a check after you make your pitch. The best outcome is moving into a process that includes term negotiations and due diligence, where the investor and founders learn more about each other. Ultimately, it’s the quality of your business that earns the investment, not the 15-20 minutes you get for your pitch deck. But, if you prepare thoughtfully, you’ll make the most of that time.

Useful Templates

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