Pitch decks are missing a key ingredient: history

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I agree with Fred Wilson about trying to keep a pitch deck to six slides. I also agree with Mark Suster about putting the bio slide first (click next at the bottom of his post for more of his pitch deck advice). There are also many other good posts on pitch decks (with conflicting advice of course).

But even if you construct the perfect pitch deck, I still think the key ingredient is missing: your history. VCs and angels are always going on how they are mainly are funding the team, and I agree. The problem is you can't get a great sense of the team from the pitch deck. The best bio slide only hooks you.

This is why I agree with the advice to cultivate relationships with the right investors over time. However, even if you do that, you'll find yourself pitching people for which you do not have existing relationships. For these people, I think there is something you should add to your pitch deck email--a 1-2 pg written narrative history of your team.

I generally ask for this over email, albeit more informally, e.g. so how'd you end up doing this or what led you here over the past few years? Responses to these questions generally get to what I want: your detailed history. 

Did you do other companies before this one? What happened? Did you to college? What was your major? Did you work after school? What was that like? Did you evolve into pursuing this idea over time or was it more of a discrete jump? How did the team members meet? Etc. etc. A lot of this stuff is actually covered in incubator applications, and I try to get copies of those wherever possible as a result. 

Your history says a lot about you, but it isn't possible (or appropriate) to put in the pitch deck. Nevertheless, I think its writing and inclusion should be more formalized into a secondary narrative document. (The narrative also conveys one data point on how well you communicate in written form.)

Your story is often discussed in first meetings, but if people already know it the first meeting can actually be a bit more further along in the process. In the aggregate, this change should shrink the whole fundraising cycle a bit.


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