Ryan Spoon of Polaris Ventures wrote this guest post on TechCrunch about designing a VC pitch presentation for early-stage startups. Most of his guidelines are valid. I have a few comments on some. It is interesting to take a step back and read between the lines how a VC is analyzing a presentation. Ryan does not say everything explicitly.
How to Create an Early Stage Pitch Deck
Quickly go through the deck. I will not repeat his advice. My comments:
  • The elevator pitch. Ryan says he wants one, but he is not looking for that all encompassing sentence with a beautifully crafted vision statement full of buzz words. He wants to understand in a second what you are about. VCs like to put you in a box so they do not have to guess any longer. So the purpose of the elevator pitch is not to convince the VC to invest in you, it is to explain what you are doing and intrigue to flip the page. Parallels to existing startup successes are always great.  “We are Foursquare for 65+ year olds”
  • 10-15 slides. Not true. He means 5 minutes to click through
  • Sharing. Assume your deck will be forwarded. So it should stand on their own, without verbal explanation. People have become a lot more efficient at absorbing information from slides. Where it used to be the case that you had to stand up and explain present your ideas in 45 minutes for people to understand, most VCs probably get the content of your idea right away in 5 minutes. The 45 minute presentation is for questions, and most importantly, to figure you out as an entrepreneur. So, big picture slides are OK, but make the titles understandable
  • The market and opportunity. The questions Ryan is outlining are the right ones, but there is a trap here that they get answered in business school-type language with buzz words. Make these points very specific and real. Make a market sizing that can be understood on the back of an envelope. No fluff here.