How To Avoid Having the Worst Slide Found in 99% of Decks (+ inspiration from real decks)

As I discovered more and more pitch, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone had the very same slide:

This is the worst possible slide to tackle the positioning question. 99% of decks have this very slide where they position themselves in the top right corner. Not only it “feels” fake (even if that would be correct), but it says very little things about how the competition actually takes place.

Strategic positioning & RDF

My co-founder, Mathieu Daix, describes this phenomenon as an incarnation of the now well-known RDF:

“Building a competitor map, for entrepreneurs, often leads them to what Steve Jobs was the best at, ie RDF (Reality Distorsion Field). As being mapped at the top-right-corner is commonly seen as the most enviable position, entrepreneurs tend to create their own world through mental force and distortion capacity. Concretely, they took the horizontal axe and the vertical one that will magically propulse them to top-right-corner of this 2D world, despite reality. But VCs don’t want startups that beat competition in the ways and angles that are most favorable to them but want to assess if they face realistic entrepreneurs who understand their potential flaws as well as actual strengths.“

As Jeff Bussgang wrote in his great book Mastering the VC Game: “Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of playing down the risk of their venture in the pitch for capital. VC know there are risks involved in every startup. They want to know what they are and they want to know that the entrepreneurs know what they are.

What VCs really want to know

Regarding the strategic positioning of the startups, what a VC needs to understand are:

  • the value chain, from the production to distribution, and the disrupting opportunities within each blocks
  • the different bets taken by group of competitors, highlighting the differences of strategic paths and the reason why the ones you believe in should win.

Here are three slides, inspired by real deck that we reviewed, that are working very well to do so:

1. Value chain & market opportunities (=big picture)

This is where you give a broad context to the market, how it is structured and where the main opportunities are.

(inspiration by Loic Soubeyrand, co-founder of Teads and Lunchr)

2. Strategic bets & business models within the competition

This is where you focus on your specific value proposition and compare the different business models and ressources allocation.

(inspiration by Guillaume Fourdinier, co-founder of Agricool)
open-source framework here

3. Multi-variables Positioning

There are two things that we like at daphni: transparency & putting our money where our mouth is. So I thought I couldn’t make a post about positioning without sharing the slides we actually used in our deck for our fundraising. The key is to think about the key success factor before mentally picturing when you are and where your competitors are. This way of doing make sure you don’t just chose the two factors where you end up on the top right corner. As you can see, we’ve distinguish our current and future positioning. The differences between the two states highlight your long term vision and the aspects you need to improve to get there.

(inspiration by Marie Ekeland, co-founder of daphni)

And remember what T.S. Eliot wrote:

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.

So don’t hesitate to steal and make it even better! 
Wishing you the best for your fundraising.

Special thanks to Paul Bazin, Mathieu Daix, Marie Ekeland, Pierre-Eric Leibovici