Ask a VC: things you don’t think about when you send us your deck
I’ve probably seen 12–14,000 decks so far in my investor career, if not more!
There are always the odd things you don’t think about when you send them, and that starts you on the wrong foot with your VC…
The whole point of a deck is to get you some face time with an investor (face-to-face or video call usually). So you NEED to give him/her enough information to make that call to spend that time with you (there are only about 8 working hours a day, so with on average 50 new decks received per week, not everyone will get 1 hour of discussion (and I tend to prefer shorter pitches nowadays). At best 10% / week I suppose = 5 meetings accepted.). Make sure all the information is there and easy to read.
So in no particular order (these are all my views):
- never ask if you can send a deck. Why do you do so? It requires an answer, and you to send another email with the deck. Waste of time between the decks, and processing unnecessary emails. Just send it.
- Some VCs (like us at sepulvedacapital.com/submit) have a web form that allows decks to be processed even faster. Why? The forms are interfaced with our deal-flow system (we all use one to make sure we track every deal and reply to each one), logging the investment opportunity directly in the system, tagging it to specific topics, adding contact information, similar deals, amount to be raised, timeframe for the deal, etc. If you don’t do this yourself, then someone at the VC firm will have to do it anyway, adding extra processing time). And the thinking is, if you can’t spend 5 minutes describing your business on a form, why would the VC spend 5 minutes reading your deck?
- Don’t ask for an NDA before sending the deck. You wouldn’t ask for one from your bank when you’d ask for a loan, would you? Why would a VC take liability on a deal before they even know if they are interested in investing in it? Brad Feld has more relevant thoughts.
- Make sure you make your deck short. 20 slides max! this is not your biography, just an invitation to another meeting. There are tons of decks online to get inspiration from. And you can even ask AI to write your deck for you now. And you can even voice over your deck with tools like Loom.
- Don’t neglect the fact that we see so many decks that yours has to stand out. Design helps. There are cheap options out there to help you.
- Make sure you send all relevant information. There’s no way we will keep 50 trains of thought open in the air, from week 1 with just the market, the following week with the financials, etc. Just send in everything at the same time, so a go/no go decision can be made immediately. I have a grid for this (I’ll expand on it in another post):
1. Market pain / size / growth + target customers
2. Product solving the pain
3. Competition and moat
4. Business model / unit metrics
5. Cash-flow projections (I like 5 years)
6. Risk analysis and mitigation
7. Team + who’s missing
8. Go to market
9. Technology (how will it scale) and Processes
10. What has been done so far (contracts, POCs, MVP, people, jurisdiction of incorporation, etc.)
11. Deal offered + use of proceeds + milestones that will be reached with this round
12. Why now ?
- Don’t use any fancy font that won’t display on the VC’s screen. Include everything in a PDF. No Keynote file or Powerpoint…
- Make sure your file is light in weight. There are free PDF compressors you can use.
- Make sure your file is downloadable. This is so annoying. There is an option for this on all sharing sites like Docsend. You realize, of course, that it is easy for a VC to screenshot each slide, then open them all together with Preview and print them all to a PDF. Another waste of time. VCs like to keep track of decks across rounds to check whether you outperformed (rare) your earlier forecasts at previous rounds. Easier also to check your decks while not at your desk, traveling, etc.
- As such, don’t create a scrollable website, or use funky websites with tons of animation. Keep these for on-stage shows. When submitting a deck, stick to what you are trying to do: raise funds.
- Don’t forget to spell-check. Tools like Grammarly are free…
- Don’t forget investors usually have a weekly meeting to discuss inbound deal-flow. There’s no point asking the next day if we received the email, or sending an email to say you just submitted your deck on the web form. That’s just another email to process and delete, and more wasted time. It’s pretty rare that your deck won’t make it up. Check back a couple of weeks later if you didn’t get an answer.
- And my personal favorite: the deck with NO contact information. No name, no email (forget the phone numbers), no URL… That’s extra work to identify who to talk back to, even for a no.
As someone once said: “90% is preparation, 10% execution”.