Image By Thomas Hawk. Original version. Linkedin post image has been modified.

Over the past few years working as a Startup mentor, advisor and judge I have had the pleasure to listen to many Startups and entrepreneurs pitch their ideas. Invariably I could almost divide them into two groups.  The Incredible Hulks and The Credible Startups.  For a start, I will begin by adding that at one point my Startup fell into the “Incredible Hulk” category.

When I started my last project “Urbytus” nearly 15 years ago, I had no such thing as  a pitch deck and there was very little material available on the web about pitch decks.  I basically started with an excel sheet and what was in those known as “The Executive Summary” a shortened version of a business plan and the full blown “The Business Plan” that was between 20 to 40 pages explaining what you now put visually onto the pitch deck.   My executive summary was simple.  The problem, My solution, The local and the national market, plus the opportunity of the international market.  An estimate on of what we needed to get this going over the next 5 to 7 years and Voila.  It was a good start and we got off to a good start.

But that’s when things started going wrong.  By 2010 I was looking to tap into VCs and raise some serious money.  So I started reading more and more into all the advice I could find on the internet to build the ultimate business plan (or Pitch Deck).  In reading all the materials and information I could find on the internet, which was mostly from US based sources, I ended up building what I call “The Incredible Hulk” Startup.  I basically took the most optimistic view on everything and went the extra mile to make it look even more incredible. Yes even I felt it. I was the INCREDIBLE HULK, NOTHING could STOP ME and we were going to take over the sector.

For a start I was told I need advisors.  Well I had one good advisor, he was in the sector and really dedicated to my project.  He was a well-respected figure in our local community and equally a client.  However in searching for more advisors I started searching my network for people working in Microsoft, Google and big enterprises.  I succeeded, I managed to find a few good friends who liked my product and tried to help me, but they were too busy and even though I offered share options I soon found that the effort that I had put into finding, speaking to these advisors outweighed their weight on the Pitch Deck and my real objectives. I could have saved both sides a lot of time.

Next was the market.  Yes the market was big, it was international, it was billions, NO wait, It was trillions, it was a problem that existed everywhere. Initially I was focused on just taking it local that would have given me an amazing return, however soon I found myself creating multilingual version of our software, trying to expand to all corners of the world and basically spreading myself so thin that I could not respond to every little personalization request from all these different corners.  Above all it made no financial sense to create one specific module for just one or a few clients in one country.  The work was far above and beyond the return on investment.

I could go on and on, I tried to impress and I tried to apply every little hint, suggestion to make our pitch deck stand out and be THE INCREDIBLE HULK.  It is not that the idea was bad, but in the end the way it was being built and presented turned out to be an incredible Hulk.

It took me numerous years and tries before I decided to pack it in with the bullshit. I rebuilt the pitch deck. It was me and me and just the people around me.  Those who could really help and those who were working with me directly.   I looked no further than the local market and the national opportunity. I left the international opportunity to the imagination of our investors.  I built a simple plan and basically a Credible Startup. A pitch Deck where you could see the beginning and the end, where you could see your Return on Investment without having to stretch your imagination or dig deep into your pockets.  Bingo, it worked.  And it worked twice.  Until and unfortunately when I fell back into the same trap soon after.  Looking to raise the next round, I dropped back into the trap of the glorified internet examples and suggestions and sure enough I built yet again another incredible Hulk.

It is easy to fall into this trap of building pitch decks which are sometimes too good to be true, but I have found that the more humble and the more down to earth and realistic plans stand a better opportunity of fund raising.  A credible Startup in simple terms. If I were to share one advice with you is: Keep it as simple and as close as possible to the truth and what is achievable.  What you can achieve, How YOU can achieve it and ONLY the people you are working with, with ONLY the real expertise they have, without the need to glorify what you are not capable of doing.  Keep it real, you can always outsource the tasks you cannot do.  Keep it localized, you can always expand.  But whatever you do, don’t make it look as if you can do it all.  That will give you the best Credible Startup plan.

Of course, that does not mean that you cannot do it all, you may afterall have the most amazing team, and you don’t have to lower your ambitions.  Be ambitious and DREAM BIG, I believe in it, I BELIEVE IN YOU, but there is a fine line between what you and I believe to what others believe.  I still feel unstoppable. I am still full of energy and I am a go getter, I aim high and have big projects in mind, yet experience has taught me how to make them into winning tickets; HOW TO BE CREDIBLE rather than incredible.

Over the past years I have helped many entrepreneurs build CREDIBLE STARTUP pitch decks.  If you are struggling with fund raising and your pitch deck.  If you are finding that no one believes in your Incredible Story and ambition, then it is time that we setup a quick call.  CLICK HERE TO START BUILDING YOUR CREDIBLE STORY NOW