The pitch deck

As a venture investor, and previously as a CEO raising capital, the pitch deck is a central document to learn about a startup. Often it is the first introduction to a company, so saying it is important is to understate it.

The advice from venture capitalists on the content and structure of a good deck is quite similar and have been for a long time. See Inventure, Sequoia, Creandum and Local Globe.

Instead of reformulating all of this solid advice, I’d add some thoughts.

  • My personal preference is when the deck tells the reader on slide 1 or 2 what round/how much the company is raising. This helps me to evaluate the rest of the deck (which is different if you’re raising a pre-seed or Series A, don’t wait until the last slide to give the reader this information).
  • The team slide should go early, probably the first content slide, at pre-seed and seed. There’s no startup to invest in without the founders at those stages. And for a meeting it fits the normal flow of introducing yourself.
  • If you have traction, show it no later than slide 4 or 5. Especially in a deck you share to get a meeting. Traction says “this is working”, and that is an attention-grabber.
  • Keeping the deck short (12 slides) is a good way to keep it simple. Adding more slides often leads to more complexity, not more understanding. Once you have a meeting, have additional supporting slides in an appendix.
  • Even if you’re sharing via Docusend or Pitch, always provide a downloadable PDF option. It makes it easier for investors to share internally and move forward with a decision. It also makes it easier to invest in lines and not dots. Watermark the presentation if you’re concerned the investor will share the deck externally.

Author: Henrik Torstensson

Partner at Alliance VC. Investing in Nordic early-stage tech startups.

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