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Pitch Deck Pet Peeves

Pitch Decks are important, right? We all know that by now.

But what we really wanted to learn was: Will any pitch deck do, and what are the pitch deck pet peeves that annoy venture capital investors?

So we sent out an informal survey to our venture capital network and asked them to answer a couple questions to find out. Here are the results.

Question #1-  How important is messaging and presentation to attracting capital?

Answer: 89.55% responded Very Important or Extremely Important.

Question #2 -
How many deals are rejected because of a poor presentation?

Answer: Overall 50% of deals are rejected because of poor presentation.
(20% of those that responded said that they reject over 90% because of poor presentation)

Bill Gurley, Benchmark, Quote On Pitch decks

Question #3  What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to pitch decks or presentations? 

Answers:

  • If you can’t make a good presentation or are not willing to spend the time doing it for such a critical component (capital) why should I think you can run a company?
  • When they are written like mystery novels, I don’t want to wait until the end before understanding what the product does.
  • Poorly done slide decks (graphics, text fonts/colors etc), and lack of clarity on what the business is and what problem they are trying to address.
  • No use of funds
  • Lack of quantitative value proposition, lack of concise upfront statement of the business model
  • No performance metrics
  • Pro-forma’s too far out. Unrealistic expectations, misrepresentations.
  • Doesn’t tell a story
  • Too much on product and its uniqueness and too little on customers and how it will fit into a competitive world
  • Typos and outlandish projections
  • Missing information that is central to investors’ consideration of the opportunity.
  • Long, but still missing information
  • Tell the story poorly
  • Making claims that aren’t verifiable
  • Not covering the key elements of the business
  • Misleading revenue numbers, i.e. “we have $1m in bookings” and making it seem like that’s revenue. Typically those companies might make a small percentage of gross bookings.
  • Too many slides….too many words on a slide
  • Don’t cover customers, go to market strategy, deal terms, exit
  • Not explaining how the idea/concept/product turns into a business, and a lack of validation/customer feedback that supports it.
  • Too many pages with poor messaging about the business
  • Lack of realism
  • Pitch deck contains animations
  • Over-optimistic and detailed projections, especially share capture of total addressable market - better to have no projections
  • Too much concentration on the possible income, not enough on the risks and how to mitigate them.
  • Typos, grammatical errors, and missing information.
  • Simple presentations are the best. Tell us the problem, show us the solution, explain why it’s better than the other solutions. If you’re pitching to a real VC, you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of time on the actual market. If you’re early enough stage, then spend some time on the team but don’t do it to boast or early in the pitch. Do it to explain why each individual is best suited to their particular job in the Company and how/why they are worth basically a direct pass through for salary early on.
  • Lack of clarity and too many slides to get the point across
  • Misspellings
  • Length
  • Too much focus on the market and not enough focus on the product/company. If we invest in a market, we already know how big it is and all the wonderful exits you’re hoping for! Tell me how and why YOU are going to create value in that market!
  • Comparing ones company to existing successful companies…”My company is the next Uber for Tinder etc.” Be your own company, pave your own path.
  • “We have no competitors.”
  • Too much detail that does not go directly to understanding the business opportunity.
  • Overstating the market size
  • Poorly communicated vision, opaque problem statements, no details on fundraising objectives
  • Poor attention to detail, coupled with a lack of demonstration understanding market & solution
  • Inability to tell a simple cohesive story

Conclusion 

Just because Mom said your pitch deck was sweet, doesn’t make it so. The same goes for other family members, anyone that works for you, or anyone that worked on it.

With so much riding on your capital raising efforts and given the high probability that venture capital pros won’t find your pitch deck compelling, getting feedback before you send your pitch deck anywhere is just smart risk management.

You only have 1 chance to make a first impression. Make sure it’s a great one. 

Investor Testing is the most powerful investor experience testing platform available today. We provide on-demand access to investors who deliver audio, video, and written feedback on pitches, pages, presentations. Set up a test in as little as 5 minutes and you will be watching the results in less than 24 hours. 

Create A Test Today
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Mark McKelvie

Founder, CEO Investor Testing. If you want to find out how clear and compelling investors find your story ask them to explain it to you in their own words and watch what happens.

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