I am doing a series of posts about the first VC pitch. If you haven’t already read Post 1 please start here.
So now you’ve told me your bio and how it’s relevant to what you’re now doing. Now it’s time to start on your PowerPoint deck. I always liked Guy Kawasaki’s rule he calls 10/20/30. 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font. It’s a very good rule. In reality you can have 12-15 slides (and other 10 in an appendix that you only refer to if asked a “deep dive” question”. In reality you can plan for 40 minutes (but be ready for what you would do if you only had 20. VC’s are notoriously 20 minutes late to meetings and if they’re respectful they’ll give you a full 40 minutes to pitch – but not always). I’m not a stickler for the 30 point font but I would say … be as visual as possible, don’t use many words, don’t use the slides as your “crib notes” and don’t put up slides and then say, “I know this slide is a bit too detailed or hard to read.” The cliched messages apply: 1) less is more and 2) a picture is worth a thousand words.
Guy starts his presentation with the problem. I agree that in general you want to get their quickly but my preferred first slide is to say in very brief words what you do.
Slide 1 – What you do (very brief): If you’re the company EMN8 , for example, you might put up a picture of one of your self-service kiosks with a Jack-in-the-Box logo (your largest customer) and have the description, “EMN8 provides self-service kiosks for fast-food restaurants. Our solutions have been independently measured to deliver a 15-20% uplift in sales through upsell & cross sell promotions.” That simple – nothing more. The problem with PowerPoint slides is that often people put them up feel the need to talk at length to the slide. If you put up something simple for this first page and then don’t dwell on it I believe this is most effective. You can click on the next slide and when you do simply say, “obviously as we progress we’ll go into more detail about what we do. We just wanted to lay the groundwork before our detailed presentation.”
Note: Benjamin Satterfield wrote me after my last post on covering your bio first and he said that in his experience it is best to get to the product demo as quickly as possible and (I’m paraphrasing) if you’re demo is good nobody cares to hear your bio and see a long-winded PowerPoint deck. I agree that this can be true in certain circumstances. 1) you’re meeting a VC with a product management background or an ex technology entrepreneur, 2) you have a GREAT demo and 3) you’re product concept is pretty easy to understand. My recommended approach for most people is get quickly through the first few slides in your PowerPoint deck (unfortunately there is a routine that most VCs expect and this includes seeing PowerPoint slides). And anyways, if you get quickly through your bio, what you do and the problem you’re trying to solve … the product demo will have more impact.
Next post in the series is here