Pitch Writeups instead of Pitch Decks

While pitch decks are supposed to accompany a presentation, I would guess that far more people review them after being emailed the deck, rather than live with the founders. Reading pitch decks without an accompanying presentation can be annoying, and a lot of crucial info can be lost.

My question - for something that’s going to be emailed around, why don’t most people use 2-3 page writeups setting out the plan for the company instead. Explaining things that way would be a lot more effective. Jeff Bezos famously banned PowerPoints at Amazon, as he found they led to wishy-washy thinking, and had his executives do 6-page long-form writeups of any ideas instead. Seems like a good principle to follow for pitch documents too, and doing things this way may be a way for a company’s docs to stand out.

Was just curious for people’s thoughts on why we don’t see more of this. Is it just “Investors don’t like to read long documents?”

Investors usually write up deal memos — certainly as part of any partnerships where multiple people have to make a decision.

Having founders write up in the deal memo “format” is probably a good idea.

The main thing with a “pitch deck” — and I should really use the term I prefer, investment deck, which SHOULD be designed to be read offline — is that it forces brevity.

One core idea that is often the title of the slide, three bullet points, one chart, etc

So I’d say we don’t see more of this because to date, in person meetings have dominated.

Here is a link to some Bessemer deal memos:

https://www.bvp.com/memos

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Boris is correct here in that decks force brevity. More recently i have been schooled by an investor on structuring the deck to address each section of a deal memo. Specifically if you could address each section (well enough) it would mean investment. This didn’t work for me :slight_smile: but it is only one data point and i trust this investor.

Your point and the rationale for a deal memo makes perfect sense, especially as a pre-meeting format. And these have caught a very little bit. The one that broke the mold was Rippling (https://www.rippling.com/blog/company-news/rippling-series-a-pitch-deck-and-memo) and i have seen 3 others.

But they have not caught on. Decks still rule. And I believe it is because convention and unspoken rules still dominate VC. The “ deck investor” above (who also happened to jnvest in rippling) smirked when i asked him about a deal memo for us. He said “don’t do things differently unless you need to or they provide a clear outsized advantage “

He also was very rigid about referrals to potential companies and even the medium (email, not text. Text is for portfolio cos ¯_(ツ)_/¯)

All this is to say, there is room for improvement around raising money but change happens slowly. Investors and founders follow conventions. But the cool thing as a founder is you can do whatever you want :slight_smile:

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Hi Marius,

It’s certainly not “Investors don’t like to read long documents.” Rather, it’s that founders haven’t yet earned the time commitment necessary to read a long form explanation from most VCs. Let me explain…

The average VC (at least, those with good deal flow), reviews dozens and in some
cases hundreds of decks each week. The average amount of time dedicated to each one is 2-3 minutes (for those keeping score at home, 100 decks per week at 3 min/deck is 5 hours/week). They’re reviewing decks with a single question in mind: should I commit 30 minutes to meet this founder?

As such, they’re not interested in understanding every single nuance. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. They’re simply trying to quickly understand the high-level details in order to decide if the founders are worth meeting with (with the expectation that the 30-min zoom/in-person will go into the real details).

In today’s high-paced fundraising dance, pitch decks fill the role of online dating profile. The goal isn’t to convey your entire life’s story, it’s simply to get the other person to “swipe right.”

Thanks,

  • Chris
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@boris @cambel cover 2 of the best resources:

As @ckneumann it is about figuring out does this founder, company fit my investment thesis/theme/stage, can they communicate clearly, concisely, and is it worth spending more time to figure out if the investment is likely to generate a return for the fund.

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