My Take on Deck Structuring
One of the first lessons I learned in VC is the 10:20:30 rule for writing presentations — 10 slides, 20 minutes, and 30 point font. If investors had a 10-point investment analysis framework that covered all the top questions we have for founders, founders could build their decks based on that framework, and move through the investment process much quicker. This is the framework that I’ve used for the past couple of years, and structured many decks around, based on the presentation styles and investment frameworks of Guy Kawasaki, Elon Musk, and Sundar Pichai.
This is the first slide in your deck — and the best opportunity to make it crystal clear what you do. We need to know the name of your company, and the essence behind what drives you. I’ve found that the best way to convey this concept is through a mantra — a short phrase to help us just get it. ‘Monzo makes money work for everyone’ is a perfect example.
It sounds silly, but after we understand what motivates you, we need to understand the problem you’re trying to solve. The best way to do this is to make the problem relatable on an individual level where I’m wasting time, energy, and money. Dealing with slow and expensive returns for clothes or spending too much time at the barbershop are great examples.
Why Solve the Problem Now?
A large and rapidly growing number of people must suffer from this issue too. You should also highlight at least one other growing trend within this group of people. The convergence between these different trends gives strong evidence that the timing of your project is right, and this coupled with some high-level numbers around market size, CAGR, and TAM brings it home.
To use Uber as an example, people are dissatisfied with slow, unreliable, and expensive taxi services across the globe, and separately, the same demographic is also adopting smartphones at a rapid rate.
What is the Solution?
The convergence of isolated trends should make a compelling case for your product or service which should fit right in the middle. This is where you present your vision and the product or service that’s going to make my life simpler. Ideally, you’ll have some customer names and key adoption figures in this slide, alongside your business model and pricing.
Revisiting Uber as an example, the convergence between increasing taxi service dissatisfaction and increasing smartphone adoption suggests that a mobile-first ride-hailing solution that will allow people to get picked up within 5 minutes is a service that many people will need.
What Is Our Secret?
You want to tell people what makes you so special, but you don’t want to give away your IP. My advice is to keep this slide high-level and to focus on the why and the what — you can leave the how for the due diligence phase. You can walk us through the user journey, highlight the key technologies you use to achieve it, and present data on how it compares to the market standard.
What Challenges Will We Face?
If the problem isn’t hard, it isn’t worth solving, and if you don’t have any upcoming challenges, then neither would anyone else. What I really like to see here is your roadmap, which clearly identifies your technical and operational obstacles and how you’re going to overcome them over the next 18 months. This is a major step to de-risk the project, so get it right!
Who are Our Competitors?
Every team has competitors. If you are taking market share away from other companies or protocols, they are your competitors (even though you may be able to partner with them) — and this is where you tell us about them. Personally, I find petal diagrams and magic quadrants the easiest to understand — but either way, this slide needs to be visual.
Who is in Our Team?
The team is who we’re backing and ultimately who all stakeholders depend on for the success of the venture. At a minimum, I would expect to see who is leading the project (CEO), who is building the product (CTO/CPO), and who is handling everything else (COO/CMO). Some key strategic advisors and other board members are good to put on this slide if you have them.
What Are Our Projections & Metrics?
We would definitely like to see your unit economics here (CAC, LTV, Time to Recover CAC) here. Other metrics like gross revenue, customer growth, and revenue per staff member can be useful here if you have them. If you’re tokenised or at a pre-revenue stage, then I would suggest highlighting market adjacencies, as well as your longer-term growth plans.
Where Are We Right Now?
At this stage, I’d like to find out how I can help you. It is best to explicitly state the amount of capital you require, and for what portion of equity or tokens, and how you’ll spend the money — which should directly align with your roadmap. Also be explicit about the non-financial support you’re looking for, especially when it comes to cryptoeconomics for crypto projects.
Decks aside, the three points that I’m assessing as an investor are the market, the product, and the team — or in other words, is this a problem worth solving, are you solving it the best way, and are you the best team in the world to solve that problem? Much easier said than done, but like most things in this field, tasks are usually simple, but they are extroadinarily difficult. If you can distill your startup into these 10 points, then you’re already half-way to raising your funding — if we understand your pitch, then we can give you a yes or no decision much quicker, and give you tangible advice on how to move forward.