TBC: Answering Founders Questions About Pitch Decks

By Jason Yeh
July 4, 2024
15
min
Listen on Apple Podcasts

TBC: Answering Founders Questions About Pitch Decks

In this episode of The Backchannel, Jason answers 5 questions submitted by founders about pitch decks and pitching strategies.

In this episode of The Backchannel, Jason answers 5 questions submitted by founders about pitch decks and pitching strategies.

During the episode, he highlights the importance of simplicity and clarity in both deck design and delivery.

Jason also discusses balancing design and content, conveying a compelling vision, and avoiding information overload.

On top of that he also touches on effective communication in short pitches and the strategic use of competition slides.

Make sure to listen to hear his full answers!

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Hey there. Welcome to this episode of the back channel. We're going to continue on doing the format where a really important question to founders get sent our way. And then we allow people to submit questions for me to react to during the back channel. So in today's Q and a mailbag format, we're going to talk about decks and pitching, because that seems to be on a lot of people's minds. And candidly, I've been spending a lot of time looking at decks and reacting to people's pitches. Jason Yeh: So first of all, I'll give an overarching theme when it comes to both decks and pitches. Overall, I think everyone would benefit from hearing the advice that more. Is not better. Less is more, [00:01:00] less is more simplification. You were pitched. Doesn't need to close the deal. The deck doesn't need to close the deal. You just need to get people interested in learning more. Okay. So let's jump into the first question. The first question is fun. It's what's the ugliest deck you've seen that got money because the company was actually good versus the previous deck that got nowhere. And I think about this question. I, I try to at least want to generalize this instead of going into specific examples. I loved, uh, somebody's description of. The prettiness and the design quality of a deck, comparing it to salt in cooking. I like this because I'm big into cooking. Um, And it's the same because when you've got the perfect amount of salt, In a dish, you don't notice it. It's when you notice it. As in it's too much salt or too little salt where you're getting into problems. I feel the same way for the design aesthetic, the quality of design for a deck. [00:02:00] You kind of shouldn't notice it. If it feels like it's over-designed, it might lead investors to feel like, what are they hiding here? Or why are they spending so much on this? And when it gets to the low end of like terrible design, ugly, hard to look at. It can be. It can be distracting. It can make you as an investor go like, ah, God, I don't know what to focus on. Um, and so we try to be in that middle zone. The one exception I have around that is if your company is brand focused, a lot of CPG companies should have an elevated deck design because that's going to be part of your product. You need to demonstrate how good you are at design, but for everyone else kind of be like salt. We don't want to notice you in either direction. Uh, and in terms of what I've seen, I've seen plenty of beautiful decks that get nowhere. A lot of times in beautiful decks. I like don't know how far along the company is, what the traction is. It just is kind of a glossy finish to a [00:03:00] nothing burger. On the ugliest deck side of things. There've been a couple decks that I've seen. And I won't mention names that are related to. At a technical ability, a deeper science, and there's something about how the clunkiness of the deck is put together. That made me believe and others. These guys really know what they're doing. And they just don't give an F about their deck. They just know the technical underpinnings of what they're going after. And they're clearly describing why they're great at it. Uh, I've seen a couple like that. I would rather people spend a little bit of a little bit of time on the design in order to get it to that point where it's not so ugly that it's distracting. Okay. Question two, let's jump into it. If we're pre-seed and pre-launch do you want the, how to reach a hundred million ARR deck slide? This is a question that's getting at more of. How do we communicate our big vision? [00:04:00] I think that's what people are asking. It's not that you have to have a slide that says, how do we reach a hundred million ARR you have to within your deck show. A trend or show that you have vision to be something big. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to spell out how do you get to a hundred million ARR? You just have to show that you have ambitions to keep going. That this is a company you want to be running forever. And as you keep pulling on a thread and going in a direction, you won't stop because you just want to build the biggest company that's possible. Now that could be represented by a big vision of man. We could get to a hundred million ARR. But it could just be a feeling of like, wow, I get why this founder is building this business. And I get that this founder isn't. Solely motivated by money. They will just continue knocking down walls and building as big of a business as possible. Okay. The only things I would say [00:05:00] that you should think about under, under this question of like, do you want this slide is if you're going to say it. You may want to question whether or not you have the credibility to say it, right. Do you have a background that shows that even throwing this out there? Makes sense. If not, maybe showing your. Deep focus on the next one or two steps. Is a more powerful way of showing. Look, we're in this for the real reason. And then having some ideas around where this keeps growing and just trying to bake in a lot of excitement into the deck. That might be better than just making up. Well, I've heard that I should have a slide that says a hundred million ARR, well, let's do some backwards math and just say, yeah, we could have. A million users paying us a hundred dollars a year. So not the specific answer, but like with many questions associated with decks, there's not one answer. It's not one size fits all. It's how your story feels. It's how you're [00:06:00] able to communicate it. Based on the materials that you have at hand. Okay. Question three. This is a little bit about your deck, but also about how you pitch it. This question says I was just in the founders, startup tuneup bootcamp, and everyone who got to pitch went really, really fast. Is that something you frowned upon or is it necessary to rush to get all the information in a two minute pitch? This has a lot to do with one of my other episodes and articles, articles. About how to deal with a pitch competition or artificially shortened periods of time. Um, where you're. We were supposed to give a description of your company. Or actually pitch your company. So usually this comes into, in the form of a two to three pitch competition, three minute pitch competition. This founder's asking about a tuneup bootcamp where they get two minutes. You can also think about this. In, in terms of a 30 [00:07:00] second elevator pitch, you meet someone at a cocktail party. You have not that much time to, to describe what you do. In all of these formats. My big push to everyone is. Again, Less is more. You don't want to feel like you have to get every single detail into the short amount of time that you have with that person, with that person's attention. You should feel like, can I get a couple things in. Articulate them well and give them time to breathe so that the listener can actually comprehend what's going on. And do it in such a way that they will want to learn more. The people that are going really fast, trying to jam everything in to the very last second. When the judge calls time, they are more likely to confuse everyone and have people not follow along. And actually. Get people to tune out because it's so confusing rather than saying, well, if I have two minutes, let's see if I can end right around 90 seconds [00:08:00] and make sure that 90 seconds lands really well with impact. That's my, that's my advice for people that are trying to get into these pitch competitions. And so the question was. Uh, do I frown upon people going really fast? Absolutely. Is it necessary to rush to get all the information in no. And I'll extend that. Should I put every single detail about my company in a 10 slide deck? Absolutely not. Great. Question four. ​Jason Yeh: [00:09:00] How detailed should our financial projections be? How much detail is too much detail. Now. This is obviously another question. That is a depends question. It really depends on what stage company you're out. Are you a back of the envelope, [00:10:00] um, idea, stage company, or you're a series B company that's been running for five years. With years of, of data and financial data. It really depends. And what I always want people to do is, is be a little bit more critical and thinking about why do we think I need this in my deck? And what is the investor looking for? In all cases, an investor wants to know that a founder has a plan. And I would say in all cases, Investors know that the best run businesses. Are run by the numbers, but. In the earliest stages of a company before you have it super dialed in exactly. What's going to cost what. Going to the most granular level of details of, you know, Uh, week by week breakdown of how you're going to spend X million dollars into a marketing channel. Probably doesn't make sense. But it does make sense to outline what you [00:11:00] think the unit economics are going to be maybe in years, one and two, when you're sub-scale. But also what happens in years three and four, when you get to certain economies of scale and the margin profiles change. And those cases, you're trying to tell a story based on numbers, showing that you have some insight into where this is going strategically. By the numbers. As you get later in later stage the numbers tell different stories, right? So as you get more detail around, let's say customer acquisition cost. Or, um, let's see. Top-line revenue. 'cause you've seen years of this happening. You probably are going to get into more details because you can, with more accuracy, actually tell a story based on the numbers. I would venture to guess that this person asking you the question. Is a much earlier stage company. Maybe they've started to build product, but really haven't sold that much. So generally speaking, I would say. When we [00:12:00] say financial projections, we just want to see as an investors that you have a grasp on how your business will run by the numbers. Not that you have to go well. Um, if I have this headcount and this had gotten this headcount and I tuned their salaries by this much in our. Uh, spend on Google versus our spend on LinkedIn ads versus our spend on ticktock or this, this, and this. I think that's overkill. I think you're trying to tell a version of your story based on the numbers. Have some directional insight and then allow the rest to be done via conversation. Now, obviously, again, this will change as you go to series a, as you go to series B, where. More of the story might be look at how the machine works. The machine works via the numbers. So let's jump into the numbers more deeply. Okay. And then the last question is, do you think competition slides are useful? What's the best way to showcase it. So this is another example of let's make sure we understand why this might be useful. [00:13:00] Competition-wise. If you are in a space where it's obvious. That there are other players in that space. Well, you're going to have to show us why you're different, why you're unique. Okay. And in that case, maybe showing a competition slide, or then you call out very specifically. Your unique value proposition, why you're so different from everyone else? Why you have an advantage over everyone else? Then making sure that you show the competition slide, I think is important. If, if however, you are creating a new market. And you've said you're creating a new market and. In the storytelling, it becomes clear that we believe that this is a new market. Then just going to put a competition slide in your deck because you've heard you should have competition. Slides is not going to be the yes, the best use. Have a slide. And anything wasted, any additional slides, any sentences [00:14:00] on slide, any words and sentences? I'm always quick to. To eliminate them anything that is. Additional to what you need to get an investor focused is just distraction. So think about whether or not the competition slide tells the story well, and whether you absolutely need it, because I don't always think that it's necessary in a deck. All right. Thank you for tuning in. I hope you like this version of the back channel, where I get a chance to answer your questions that get submitted. If you have other questions. Please find us on email, find us on social media posts to our accounts, ask the questions because we'd love to do more of these. We'd love to do more episodes that are geared towards the things that you want. I also want to do a quick call out. One of the things that got us thinking about this is that we have started doing deck design over at adamant. This is important because when I was an investor, And as I've been supporting founders during fundraising, what we realize [00:15:00] is there are thousands of different options of how you could get support to do your deck, to redesign your deck. Two. evolve and improve the story engineering of your deck. It can be everything from a few hundred dollars on Fiverr overseas to a $20,000 agency. And the consistent thing is that. A lot of people don't know who they should trust, whether or not they'll do good work as it pertains to fundraising. People want to know that the people working on their deck designs and their stories actually have context for what investors want. That's why we went out to recruit a team, to help work directly with me and support founders with deck design. If you're interested in finding out a little bit more about this, check it out. We have it under our product section, at, a D M N t.com. Check it out. We'd love to help you in the next round of your deck design. See you guys.

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