The Deck: Pitching VCs and Looking Under Rocks

A recent article on Inc. got me thinking about my daily interactions with the entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs that we engage with here at OpenView. The majority of my time as a VC is spent much like it was as a small child, picking up rocks and seeing what’s underneath them. I picked up a lot of rocks and there was always something under there, but rarely was it cool enough for me to run back into the house dangling it in the air and yelling look what I found.

Nowadays, not only does it have to be interesting, but it it has to fit our model as investors for there to be a mutual benefit. At OpenView, we clearly define our investment model and how we add value, which produces a very disciplined approach.

Returning to the analogy, this means I have to turn over a ton of rocks and talk to a lot of companies before diving into deeper discussions surrounding an investment. A lot of times, the initial conversations are accompanied by the beloved deck (the embodiment of a software company in a PowerPoint). Sometimes they are three pages, and sometimes they are 30, covering everything from team bios to what the business will look like in 2018. This is all well and good, but before covering what your CAC will be in 2017, lets get a few details nailed down first:

Basic Company Vitals

This should be a one-page rundown of the company’s founders, how long you have been around, where you are based, what your product is, who you are selling to, and a snapshot of the company’s current financial breakdown (revenues, bookings, and capital structure). This should be something that can help someone like me form a 2- to 3-sentence pitch of what the company does.

Product/Customers

By painting the picture of what your product or solution is through a technical (stay light on jargon and acronyms) and literal (real life examples) representation, we can internalize the vision. VCs are smart, but in order to connect with the pain point solved and desire to invest in the business, we need to be able to understand what you have been mastering for maybe 15 years — in A LOT less time.

Financial Metrics

It is crucial to include up-to-date (and honest…) revenue, bookings, expenses, margins, etc. for there to be any sort of real discussion. Breaking down revenue into a more granular representation is also something that I would recommend. Projections are welcomed, but keep it to 1-2 years out as it is hard to take numbers from 2016 seriously at this stage. Also, wrap a bow on there with how much you are raising and what you are using the capital for – minor detail…

Essentially, the deck is there to facilitate an easy pitch and the harder one is to digest, the less likely there will be next steps. My advice would be to craft a full tilt presentation that you can run through in person or for 2nd and 3rd discussions. But for introductory calls and discussions, pinch hit with a copy that is trimmed down to the crucial points and let your team, product, and numbers jump off the page.

Dan Lane
Dan Lane
Investor

Dan was an analyst at OpenView Venture Partners. Currently, Dan is an Investor at General Atlantic where he is focused on growth equity investments in the internet and technology sector.
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