Killer VC Pitch Deck

Most pitch deck appendices are weak (main decks too, for that matter). Typically they are the result of a 30-page presentation being pared down to 12.  They’re just extra slides randomly ordered in your PowerPoint file starting at slide 12 or so.

Here are some tips how to avoid that and to create a killer pitch deck and appendix.

First, my advice is to start building your deck by creating your presentation on one slide. Yes, that’s right. Just one slide. 30-point font with 4-5 bullets total (hopefully fewer). If you think this can’t be done, read this LA Times article that includes a picture of the original (1-page) “business plan” for Twitter.

Next, expand to 3 slides. Now that you have your pitch deck (okay, it’s 3 slides so it’s more like a “pitch patio”) you should practice giving your presentation. It should be 3-5 minute long.

Finally, expand the presentation to the standard Kawasaki-10. Then do some more practice giving this pitch. Video tape yourself. In front of an audience. Critique your pitch.

Note that this whole process is the reverse of what normally happens (creating a 30 page deck and then start the process of paring it down).

Now you should go find a few people who know a lot about your industry/business…entrepreneurs who have “done it before.” Maybe even a venture capitalist (tell them you don’t want their money…you just want them to tell you everything that is wrong with your business).  Ask them to take 30 minutes and tell you how much your idea/plan/business sucks. Set the ground rules that they can’t say anything positive.  (I’d like to see the look on the VC’s face when you say that!).  Kick the crap out of your business…or as we used to call it: “8-Mile-ing” (if you haven’t seen the movie, go see it and the scene at the end will answer your question).

After you have 8-Miled your business, give a 3-6 word title to each objection you heard.  For example, “Team too inexperienced” or “CPM forecast 10x too big?”  Then prioritize them in decending order by your estimate of the probability of it happening and size of its adverse impact.  Keep the top 20.

Finally we’re at the appendix.  You now have the titles of each of 20 pages of your appendix (i.e. the objections).  The contents of the slide for each are your retort.  I would put each slide in a separate file in a folder called “appendix” (or Mr. Wallace if you want to run with the joke).  In the body of the slide, hyperlink key points to webpages, data files, spreadsheets, whatever helps you make your retort.  Sometime during your VC pitch, you’re going to get asked a question or two (probably one of the top 10 VC objections) that will be phrased eerily similar to the title of one of your appendix slides.  That’s when you fire it up and start drilling down.

Do that, and you’ve got a killer appendix.