“We need to show them (potential investors) how everything functions at the transistor level,” our VP Engineering, “John”, said to me.
“I don’t know,” I said. “From what I’ve seen as an EIR, that will go over the heads of investors.” Then, I continued, “But, if you want to do it that way, then go for it. We’ll learn whether you’re right or not.”
We included the detailed engineering description in our pitch. We were doing a practice pitch to two of the partners at the fund where I was an EIR.
We got to the engineering section of the pitch, and Dave, my mentor at the VC fund said, “That’s way too much detail. You’re going to lose everybody if you do that.”
Amazingly, John still didn’t want to believe Dave (who, btw, was a very good engineer with significant expertise in our domain). It was a warning sign that John wasn’t going to be working with me much longer.
Getting too much into the technical details is just one of the things you should avoid doing in your pitch deck. There are many more things you should avoid including:
A. You shouldn’t wait to make your key point until your fifth or later slide.
Attention spans are short. You don’t have the luxury of building up a story, and then getting to the meat of the story ten minutes in. Almost everyone in the audience will have lost interest by then.
You have to get there immediately, like in 7 seven seconds or less. That’s how fast you have to act.
B. You shouldn’t put a lot of text in your pitch deck.
You really want to minimize the amount of text you have in your deck. Why? Well, most people don’t like to read text when they can get more information with a graphic.
Then, and this may drive you a little crazy, graphics are more visually appealing than text is. You want your deck to be inviting to your audience. Too much text is gives the signal that your business is too much trouble to understand.
Then, while we are on the subject of graphics,..
C. You shouldn’t use animation in your pitch deck.
You know the old saying that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That’s why you shouldn’t use animation because the animation will not work at exactly the wrong time.
Instead, you can use poor man’s animation. What are poor man’s animation, you ask? Poor man’s animation are consecutive slides that give the appearance of animation without the risk of something breaking.
D. You shouldn’t use a fancy template in your pitch deck.
You want the focus of your deck to be your story, not the template. That’s why a fancy template is not needed. Plus you can save the money of hiring a designer too.
A plain white background is all you need.
E. You shouldn’t use charts for your financials.
I know it looks great to have that great chart of your growth that looks like a hockey stick. Instead, you should have a simple pro-forma income statement that gives all the important financial information in one place.
You can just copy and past from your financial plan (you do have a plan, don’t you?). Then you’ve made things really easy for potential investors to see exactly what’s going on financially with your company in one slide.
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