As a Venture Capital Fund, we are constantly reviewing pitch decks and communications from founders looking to raise capital. Product and markets are unique, but there are mistakes that we see almost all founders make when communicating with potential investors that can be easily avoided.
Here are the three most common mistakes. But, first, never forget that your pitch deck is merely a tool to get an investor to be interested enough to want to meet with you. Don’t try to raise money with your pitch deck; just secure that meeting.
Keeping that in mind, here three of the most common mistakes to avoid:
Common Mistake #1: Putting Product Before Team
Don’t bury the team slide near the bottom of your pitch deck. Immediately following a slide describing the problem that you’re working to solve, introduce your founder(s) and team.
Don’t just show-off logos of top schools and past jobs. Be specific in your introductions to show how each person is a good fit to help with the specific problem you solve, addressing the specific market you serve and building your specific solution.
By not doing this, you leave your investors to wonder how you’re qualified to accomplish the big tasks ahead. Investors need a reason to believe, and you’re it!
As an early-stage investor, one of the largest challenges to overcome is execution risk. That is, your ability to do a very hard thing that’s not been done successfully before.
That’s why you want to start with “Why You” before drowning an investor with details about “What” and “Why.”
Common Mistake #2: Product-Centric, Not Problem-Centric
We live in the Age of Applied Technology where technology is cheaper and easier to build and deploy, and the amount of developer talent is at an all-time high.
More than ever, startups win by focusing on what they do for their customers, not what they do. However, most of the pitch decks we see over-rotate towards technology at the expense of the people they serve and the problems they solve.
If you want empirical evidence on this, check out CBInsights and their multi-year reporting showing that the leading reason startups fail is spending their runway building a product that does not serve a market need. FastCompany just reported the same with data indicating that the largest cause of startup demise is failure to assess the market.
Be sure to show your investors your go-to-market strategy, and not just your product development roadmap and Total Addressable Market.
Common Mistake #3: Big Numbers But No Plan
As venture investors, we’re certainly looking to invest in opportunities that have huge potential. And that means a large Total Addressable Market (TAM). But savvy investors know that a plan to win deals with a small, targeted sub-segment of any total addressable market, and learn along the way how to improve the efficiency of winning those same types of deals from the same customer profile is a more reliable source of investment signal than merely a large TAM.
Large TAMs will capture our attention, but a go-to-market strategy and a strong hypothesis about your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is what wins you the conversation with us that leads to an investment.
Conclusion: How to Secure Investor Meetings
Avoid a few common mistakes that are stopping you from getting more investor meetings.
First, don’t bury the slide introducing the team, and make sure that slide is more than school and company logos. Second, investors need to understand what you do for your customers, not just what you do. Third, avoid wasting your TAM analysis by forgetting to also include your revenue growth strategy.
We want more founders like you sharing pitch decks that include the details that venture investors need to qualify your startup for a meeting. After all, we also have a limited amount of time and the lifeblood of any venture capital firm is deal flow from investor-ready startups.
That’s why we created an on-demand pitch deck workshop. Click here to access this complimentary resource that explains the specific slides to include in your pitch deck, along with a downloadable template to easily create your investor narrative today!
Andrew Goldner & GrowthX
Andrew Goldner has been in the startup scene since 1998. He Kicked off my career when the Internet was first commercializing as a tech lawyer for Alta Vista, Yahoo, DoubleClick, Salesforce and others pioneers. In 2012 he co-founded GrowthX, an early-stage VC fund with a proprietary Get-to-Market System that helps founders around the world find product-market fit and helps GrowthX and their network of investors find, qualify and earn investable opportunities.
GrowthX is a venture capital fund and investor syndicate powered by MXP Online, there proprietary Get-to-Market System enables founders to do the work necessary to find product-market fit while providing investors with unique and reliable early-stage investible insights. They work with a wide area, global network of founders primarily through the dozens of accelerators powered by MXP Online.