The Startup
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The Startup

An Alternative Approach to Building Your Pitch Deck

A 4-step story-driven process for fundraising

Step 1: Craft a Story That Ensures Horizontal Logic

Nearly every great story begins with something our brains are wired to be fascinated by: change. Change promises opportunity and arouses curiosity. Stories often use unexpected change as the offset for the main character’s journey to endure hardships until he reaches a new state of equilibrium.

  • Use the resulting sentences as action titles to ensure horizontal logic

Step 2: Find the Hidden Hypotheses

Your standard fiction drama has one significant difference to a story about a prospective investment. While the former relies on the insatiable desire to analyze human behavior by using complex characters, emotions, and dialogue, the latter, above all, needs explanatory variables.

  • our business will provide what customers want because we have [core value proposition or product attributes]
  • we have a competitive edge because [strategic advantage, e.g., a better match between customer needs and value proposition, brand, first-mover advantage, etc.]
  • our business will generate excellent traction because [combination of distribution and acquisition efficiency and financial engine]
  • Differentiate the slides into those containing Hypotheses and those presenting descriptions

Step 3: Supplement Critical Information

Complementing the necessary information to make the overarching story believable is the most flexible and most challenging part of building a pitch deck.

  • Prefer primary over secondary data and descriptions: Primary data, especially in the early stages, is usually more sound for investors. For example, self-conducted market research or past marketing KPIs have way more informational value to indicate a market need than a high-level consultancy report and your product description.
  • Prefer first-order explanations: Keep your explanations as simple as possible without stating the obvious. Only display the immediate cause for the effect that is your hypothesis.
  • Establish vertical logic: Make sure that the content on each slide is self-reinforcing, even though the storyline running through the action titles connects the slides via the big picture

Step 4: Iterate if Necessary and Check for Boldness

A quick recap: you have started with a written story, have identified the different hypotheses hidden in its plot, and have supplemented information, re-inforcing that what you assert in your action titles is true.

Conclusion: The story-driven pitch

Building a great pitch deck may take various iterations. There is no blueprint for finding the right balance between narrating and hypothesizing, between being a storyteller and being a scientist. It is an art form.



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