Adventures In Deep Space

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PowerPoint Pitch Decks

September 01, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

One of the incubators that I'm in the early stage of talking with gave me a "Slide Deck" PowerPoint template, which I spent a chunk of tonight working through. Had to create a "McKinsey Matrix", among other "entertaining" tasks.

"Decks", and everything that goes into them, are all part of the "price of entry", "table money", for playing the startup game, at least when you're pursing a project (like this one) that is clearly going to require "real money" to get take flight (at some point). External investment is always a last resort, due to the constraints (aka "golden handcuffs") it puts on you, and the pressure to generate immediate financial returns or otherwise justify further investment it imposes. You want to take it on the most favorable terms possible, which means as late in the game as possible, but not at the price of stunting your growth or your ability respond to unexpected developments in a timely fashion.

The people you'll be presenting your deck to are sophisticated professional investors; in many cases, they've started more than one company in this area themselves. They know that, especially early on, most numbers are highly speculative (though where they can be solid, they'd better be accurate and reasonable). The numbers are there to demonstrate that the company's founders have done their due diligence, thought through the problem in detail, and understand the market.

Everyone understands that the numbers in your multi-year financial and sales forecast are a bunch of hooey, but at the same time, they serve a real and valid purpose: making the case that, should the chips fall right, there's money to be made by investing in your project. That there's a pony in there somewhere. "Brilliant ideas" are a dime a dozen. Ones that can make money, well, they're a bit more rare.

Tags: thepitch, incubators, startups, decks, powerpoint, presentations, thegame