My post on building a pitch deck for fund raising prompted a lot of interesting email with questions and comments from entrepreneurs. So as follow up, here are some additional thoughts to consider once the deck is completed.
If you read my last post (and particularly if you followed my suggestion to focus on graphics, graphics, graphics…), the pitch deck is not a standalone piece of work. It's a prop to help YOU tell a COMPELLING story and get the next meeting. You are the star of the show and without your participation the pitch will be flat regardless of the knowledge and experience of the reader.
This may be a controversial suggestion to my colleagues in the Venture world but resist requests from VCs to "send me the pitch deck" before the meeting. Whether the initial contact was arranged by you or via a referral, the initial contact should include a concise executive summary – 1 to 2 pages at the most. Neither the executive summary nor the pitch deck are a standalone business plan – the summary should state the market you are going after, what you are proposing to build, how it's relevant (customer benefits) plus a short summary of the key team members.
The summary should be sufficient for a knowledgeable VC to get an overview of what you are proposing and decide whether it's of interest to them and their firm's investment focus. If a VC receives your summary and then asks for the pitch deck before agreeing to a meeting then either the summary wasn't on point or the VC doesn't have a good perspective on the space. If you get this request for the pitch deck, suggest a short phone call to go over the executive summary rather than just sending the deck. The phone call will help you figure out whether you or the VC would be wasting your time having a meeting.
Any prospective investment has to pass muster on three dimensions – market, team and technology (product, service, …). The objective of arranging a meeting is to show your understanding of the opportunity and issues and at the same time, establish an impression about the capabilities of the team. There are VCs who say that their primary focus is the market opportunity while other will say it's the team – regardless, your objective is to get a meeting where you can present the opportunity and YOURSELF.
A more detailed version of the pitch deck can be used as vehicle for internal discussion about the company and its strategy. It should be a living document that captures strategy, assumptions and key issues – the corporate version of the List of 4 Lists if you will. This is really a presentation version of the business plan – it can be read by someone who has knowledge of the space and what the company is trying to achieve. You can also use this at a follow-on meeting to start the diligence process.
Keep the Pitch Deck the Pitch Deck and present it, don't send it!