Even though there are a lot of web resources on how to put together a pitch deck for seed-stage companies, most don’t address how many decks you need and for what purpose. If you are fundraising, you’ll need at least 2 decks:
- An email deck
- An in-person meeting deck
If you are participating in a Demo Day with an accelerator, you’ll also need a Demo Day deck.
Obviously all your decks will be similar, since you are pitching the same company! All of your decks should:
- Be compelling – lead with your strongest points first! If it’s team, then lead with team. If it’s traction, lead with traction. If it’s a big problem, and you have an unusual solution, go with that.
- Tell a story – this is not just a series of facts. The slides must flow together.
- Be visual – i.e. verbalize, don’t make an investor read words.
- Be simple – an investor should understand the slide in 1-2 seconds; don’t make him/her think.
- Include your contact information so that people can contact you!
What is an email deck?
An email deck is what you’ll email to investors if they ask to see a deck first before setting up a meeting with you.
There should be enough information here to be compelling enough to take a meeting with you. BUT, not too much such that they can decide NOT to take a meeting with you. Keep in mind that many investors could (will!) forward this to other people, so don’t put anything too confidential in here.
Examples of what to put in (not in this order per se):
- Problem you’re solving
- Your solution
- Traction – key performance indicators (could be MRR, growth, users – whatever makes the most sense for your business)
The purpose of the email deck is to get a meeting – that’s it. So, you should include facts about your business that will be compelling to get you that meeting and nothing more.
The flip-side is that you shouldn’t include too much – specifically, anything that can be nitpicked. These are some things I wouldn’t include in an email deck include:
- How many people you are hiring
- Financial projections or forecasts
These are hypothetical. The number of people you hire could change, and if an investor thinks you should hire 5 sales people instead of 4, you shouldn’t let that be what stops you from getting a meeting. Similarly, if you are projecting too high or too low of a revenue number for next year, an investor may think that you are unrealistic or not ambitious enough, and you are not even there to defend your argument when he/she reads your deck.
Realistically, an investor will spend only 10 seconds looking at your deck, so it has to be understandable and concise. It’s ok, if he / she only understands the gist. The meeting will allow for detailed discussion.
Lastly, an email deck serves to provide context. Sometimes an investor you’ve already met with may ask for an email deck so that he/she can send the opportunity to other partners / investors at his / her firm so that they can get context before meeting with you.
What is an in-person meeting deck?
An in-person meeting deck has the meat. Lots of great people have written about what slides you should have for this deck. You can find great resources here, here, and here (among many other places). I don’t need to dive into this in detail.
In short, an in-person meeting deck should have ~10 high level slides with appendix slides that dive into the weeds. In addition to the other slides from your email deck, include your business model and 1-2 key unit economics (LTV, CAC, churn, etc.).
Even for this deck, you’ll want to still keep the slides at a high level. If an investor asks to dive into the weeds on certain areas, then you can guide him/her to the appendix slides you’ve prepared and fully cover a topic before continuing on. Some investors prefer to dive into product questions and others really want to dive into customer acquisition channels and unit metrics. You’ll want to have lots of appendix slides to cater to different audiences, but most of the time, you won’t dive into all of them.
If you’re meeting with an angel investor, this first meeting may be all that you need to secure funding. But, if you are meeting with a VC, the purpose of this deck is to get the next meeting. (Be sure you ask questions to understand how an investor decides to invest and what his/her process is.) At a firm that moves quickly, that next meeting could be an all-partner meeting, which is typically the last meeting needed to make a decision (for seed-stage).
Go get ‘em!