Pitching Without Slides Is a Thing (and you should be doing it)

pitching without slides

This can be highly controversial and many founders simply won’t manage to do it. I do still think preparing to pitch without slides can be an interesting exercise. If you manage, it works like magic, but be aware it’s not for everyone – and that’s okay. There’s plenty of other strategies you can learn in order to lead your funding round.

Die, pitch, die! 

There, I said it. Kill it. 

Over, done, never again.

I’ve never been a big fan of the word “pitching”. It implies that something isn’t really true, that some of it is fake or concealed, or made up, some kind of repetitive sales job – and also that it’s scripted. Which implies acting, rehearsed, fake, not real life. I don’t like it.

I know I’m not alone with this view. Most people (and certainly most investors) dislike it too; nobody enjoys being “pitched to” or have to review endless “pitch decks” or suffer boring, scripted investor pitches in “pitch mode”. Personally, I think that era deserves being sent off to pasture – we’ll all be better for it. Long live the more honest and interesting narrative, storyline and conversations

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Financial Storyline: telling the story behind your numbers in a single slide

The press loves to tell us how investors are compelled to invest by the company’s vision or mission, the founder’s “charisma” or the personal experience that drove her to build the startup. 

In my experience that’s not entirely true. 

Yes, mission and passion are important but sadly they’re additional, not primary, reasons to invest, and the reality is way more mundane: financial returns. Driving massive financial returns is the compelling reason.

That’s why investors love numbers. They devour them, crave, and love hard data. Yet, let’s face it, even though financials are critical (they can make or break your funding round) most founders dislike presenting numbers and typically hate Excel modelling. It’s tedious, time-consuming, frustrating, it pushes them outside their comfort zone (product, features, vision etc) and worse, can expose their obvious weakness with numbers. So what do they do? Copy/Paste the entire P&L spreadsheet into one page, close their eyes and hope investors skip as it’s so complicated and boring. Wrong. You fail.

Thankfully, there is a solution and it doesn’t require you to become a Master Jedi.

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Not all investors are equal. This is why, and how, you must prioritise them using the pyramid of priorities

pyramid of priorities

Your business is starting to hit its stride, with a good team and strong KPIs. After careful consideration, you feel it’s time to go get funding from one of those prestigious Venture Capital funds. Have you created your pyramid of priorities?

I’m assuming here that you’ve done your homework, you’re well prepared, have your documents lined up and are pitch-ready (if you’re not, check us out, that’s what we do). 

What do most of you do then? Go and talk to any investors. In fact, anybody who may/might/maybe/one day look like an investor. 

It’s natural, and simple logic: the more encounters, the more chances, right? 

Statistics, right? 

Wrong. 

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What investors really look at inside your pitch deck

pitch-deck-focus

Inside the small startup ecosystem, we have a handful of topics that are constantly popping up. An effective pitch deck is probably in the top 5 of most talked about matters – as we all know, for a good reason.

There are tons of guidance online when it comes to creating your own deck and mostly every mentor has their own advice to give. However, pitch decks are still a tough topic to discuss. From my own experience as an investor and advisor, finding companies that can truly crystallise their value proposition and showcase their information well is even harder.

Now that you believe that you are ready to proceed with fundraising, it’s time to build a killer pitch to make investors want to book a meeting with you ASAP. But the question remains: what do investors want to see in your pitch? How can you hook them to get invited for a meeting?

After advising hundreds of founders, I’m well aware deckbuilding is a skill that you learn by doing. The dog-eat-dog world of investments is not easy and you know it, so a few hard truths won’t hurt. Shall we?

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Don’t lecture me, help me.

Francois Mazoudier is a seasoned tech entrepreneur and investor.

Giving entrepreneurs helpful, actionable knowledge, and tools to fundraise successfully.

The world is full of (read: choking with) content for founders and entrepreneurs: blogs, tweets and retweets, posts and reposts, never-ending comments and replies, with every single platform offering short-form, long-form, and any-other-form-you-wish publishing tools.

Then you have entire armies of bots, servers, and DIY homemade systems (hello Perl) that spew a never-ending stream of content – all of very little (read: no) care for quality or any relevance.

Oh, and I nearly forgot the new (ahem) “AI” copywriting automation and spamming platform. It’s now a thing to re-hash Twitter threaders, re-spam them as new, and use social amplifier tools to get it syndicated. You get the idea: quantity over quality, at a monstrous machine scale. (“6 ways to achieve X” and “how to eat like Elon Musk”, anyone?).

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