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The 10-slide VC deck

Charlie Gunningham
Charlie Gunningham
// // Advice from Startmate CEO Michael Batko on the first deck you send to VC firms - the 10 page marketing deck.

// Advice from Startmate CEO Michael Batko on the first deck you send to VC firms – the 10 page marketing deck.

There are two types of slide deck to use when approaching venture capital (VC) companies for funds – the first is the one we will deal with in this post, the 10-slide ‘marketing deck’.

To watch the whole 30-minute session, click here for the Facebook Live recording, with Michael Batko giving some great advice on how to put together this ‘teaser’ deck.

“Raising money is a six month, full time, 40 hour a week job… and periods of raising funds are intermittent, between the periods of building the company. It’s like filling up for fuel.”

Michael Batko

In order to get some fuel though, you have to realise that a typical VC partner will see over a thousand decks a year, and only make 1 or 2 investments.

They will also flick through your deck in a minute, probably scanning it in preview mode (they won’t download it), so send it as a PDF to ensure the look and feel is as you want.

The Marketing Deck

The objective of the marketing deck is to get you to the full meeting. The deck won’t get you money, but it can eliminate you.

Your purpose is to get through to the next round. And you may have to take 40 to 100 investor meetings before landing your first one.

That’s a lot of coffee, and it will take months to build the relationships needed.

8 to 10 slides, that’s it.

You have to capture their imagination in 20 seconds or less.

No more than 20 words per slide. Ever.

One message per slide. Always.

Nail your first slide – company name and logo, your one liner, then your email address and phone number.

Include your email and phone number on the opening slide because if they’re interested, they will revert back to your deck, and if it’s right there on page 1, makes it much easier.

The slides should be beautiful. And if you’re in a B2C product, then they have to be gorgeous.

Reading them should be a breeze, a delight.

And overall, it needs to tell a story. The headings on each slide should help tell the story.

“Don’t have ‘The Problem’, ‘The Solution’.. as headings, make the headings tell the story”, said Michael.

“Don’t have legal disclaimers either, don’t ask for NDAs.”

The deck is a test – can you captivate? can you tell a story?

3 Most Important Slides

Not every 8-10 slide marketing deck will be the same, but every one should have the following 3 slides, and they have to pack a punch:

  1. Ambition – this slide captures what you do, it’s simple, strong and global, you’re building for a big outcome
  2. Make Team slide awesome – don’t put in LinkedIn URLs, don’t forget logos, don’t add up years of experience, no silly titles like Chief Happiness Officers… after all, it’s the team that will either win (or lose); it’s the team the investors are investing in
  3. Traction – numbers, even if small, are better than adjectives; show growth of users, even if no $$$s yet

Other Slides

Other slides should clearly articulate the customer problem you are solving, and how you are solving it, and why you are going to pull this off.

You should also have a slide – maybe the last one – which explains ‘Why Now?‘ The intent you want to leave is: the train is leaving the station, get on it now, or miss out.

Somewhere there will be ‘The Ask‘ slide – explaining how much you are looking for, and what it will be used for.

You may also put in a Business Model slide, showing how you are going to make money, and the size of the first market segment, the total global opportunity and how your business scales. Scalability is what most VCs and investors look for.

If you’ve been counting, then that’s 10 slides*, so you’re pretty much done.

You don’t need a slide on the competition, argues Michael, unless there is a major incumbent and you need to explain how you’re going to beat them.

You don’t need testimonials slides (they’re always great) nor financial projections (they’re all the same unbelievable J-curve).

Famous Slide Decks

AirBnb’s first 2009 deck – raised $600K. Business now work $35B.

Foursquare, 2009 – 1.35M raised.

Buffer, 2011 – raised $500K.

* Recap – 8 to 10 Slides

This is not prescriptive, and there is some flexibility depending on your business, but one structure might be (with some options)…

  1. Opening
  2. Ambition
  3. Problem
  4. Solution
  5. Business Model
  6. Why You / Team
  7. Why Now
  8. The Ask
  9. Use of Funds / Milestones
  10. Closing / Why Now

NEXT – if you get past this stage, then you need the ‘Board Deck‘, which is supposed to accompany a 30-minute presentation to VC partners, usually given in a boardroom, live.


The 10-slide VC deck

Michael Batko is CEO of Startmate, an Australian mentor-driven seed fund and accelerator, and is part of the Blackbird VC team.

Main photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

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Charlie Gunningham

Charlie Gunningham

Former co-founder, GM, CEO Business News and Accelerating Commercialisation adviser. Charlie has spent 20+ years in Perth's startup scene, as founder, mentor, adviser, writer and investor. There's nothing he likes more than helping early stage tech startups ... and drinking coffee, shiraz or playing in a blues band. Email Charlie here.
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