This three slide VC pitch deck will scare you to death. But what happens after will astonish you.

Jean-Louis Gassée, a silicon valley venture capitalist has a great post on why entrepreneurs should only have three slides in their pitch deck when presenting to VCs. Here are the three slides:

  1. Who we are: The founding team’s resume, its technical, business, and academic background.
  2. A nice, sharp dichotomy: The world before us, the world after us. Show a substantial, practical impact, not just a marginal improvement of something that’s already in place. The more impossible or unthinkable the better — it will become retroactively obvious once understood. The mouse is a good example.
  3. The Money Pump. Your business plan. I like the Money Pump image, the pipes that allow the cash that’s temporarily residing in customers’ pockets to flow into the company’s coffers — legally, willingly, and repeatedly.

I’ve given more than a hundred pitches to VCs and I can’t imagine only having three slides. It is a ballsy move to be certain and I think he’s onto something. Can you imagine standing up and talking through just three slides and then waiting for questions? Even Jean-Louis agrees, “The silence will be unbearable.” But he points out that 10–15 seconds later the questions will commence and the awkwardness will end. Of course, if there are no questions you will know they aren’t interested and you’ve saved everyone a lot of time.

Of course, when I first read his three slide post I was excited because I’d only have to make THREE slides, but sadly that isn’t the case at all. You still need all of those other slides in your back pocket. The competitor slide, the market slide, the financial projection slide and so on — Jean jokes that you could have 253 additional slides ready and waiting for your inquisitive audience. He concludes, “The goal of the presentation is to start a conversation, the sooner the better.” I totally agree. Take a look at his post and the follow-up post:


Three Slides Then Shut Up — The Art Of The Pitch

The formula to go from zero to VC-funded in seven slides

Oh, and how did you like my title? It is a little trick I learned from Scott DeLong called “Promise and Withhold”.

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