Before I get to the point, I thought I should add something in simple acknowledgment.  As you know my morning routine is waking up around 5:00 am with a bit of exercise followed by reading.   Yet as I read a chapter from a very interesting book and many new ideas came to my mind, that inspiration that makes me get up and think I have what I need to write was not there.   Nevertheless, I followed my next part of the routine, abandoned the chair by the bookshelf in the living room, and moved downstairs to the garage which I have refurbished into my private office. I switched on the laptop reluctantly and stared at my inbox.  Within seconds I knew I had spotted what I needed for my inspiration.  The subject read “Kill your darling”, credit to Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB insights.  I open the newsletter to read more and Anand starts by explaining the expression’s meaning,  “when you’ve written something you really love that just isn’t relevant to your audience, you should cut it.” He continues to add, “The hard truth is, many good ideas should be killed.” (And I even considered cutting this out! but credit was due and it is the story that counts).

Now, cutting the crap and getting to the point.

I review several pitch decks per week and more than often I have to fight my way through a heap of irrelevant text.  Splashes of quotes from founders of  GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) to news snippets and snapshots that are at best illegible, followed by numbers for the market potential and share which have nothing to do with anything.  As if this was not hard enough to digest, and to add salt to injury I then find myself with a competition analysis table or even worse the new X/Y graph which has become popular.

Let me give you a simple example.  Creating a pitch deck is like dressing up for an important dinner. Imagine that you did not know what to wear for an important dinner, you try different outfits and combinations until one fits. What you don’t do is keep on all the stuff you have tried before, even though you may love that piece of clothing.  Your pitchdeck is no different.  We try stuff that looks good, feels good and we think might be useful. We copy ideas from here and there and we add them to our pitch decks.  All of this is good and we should be doing this, but what often happens is that we forget to strip it back down to its basics.

When I mentor startups and help them with pitch decks, the first thing we start with is “DELETING”.  We practically delete or move everything that is extra to another area.  Basically, we strip the pitch deck into its naked format. What is the problem you encountered, what solution do you have for it, how do you intend to achieve it and make it work, will your target customers really buy this and if so how many, how do you intend to reach your customers and why are you the right person for this project.  A clear story.  Don’t go directly into SAM, TAM, TOM before adding the simple numbers. Explain the basics so the investor is able to extrapolate your revenue and market share from those basic numbers.  This is what brings CREDEBILITY to your story and it is NOT necessary to say that others have raised millions of euros, or that Mark Zuckerberg said this or that.

What takes up the most time for me when I mentor startup founders and review their pitch deck, is deciphering what the project is all about.  Understanding what it is that they are trying to solve.  Finding out what their Unique Selling Point is.  What is it that differentiates them from their competition? Why are they the right team and most importantly where do you get those large TAM, SAM, SOM numbers from and how do they relate to your pitch deck.  The pages are often filled with quotes, useless description, images that do not support the text and numbers which are simply incalculable.

Killing your darling, removing all those unnecessary pieces of clothing, and cutting back all that is necessary is what brings the important into FOCUS.

So, that’s it. Easier said than done and I admit when it came to my startup pitch deck I had the same problem, and when I write a speech or article (including this one) I have the same challenge.  I write and write and then I delete. I am torn in between creating content and also sometimes worried about making sure I have written enough to make it a long enough article for SEO, etc and then I think well the real point can be said in just a few words.

Cut the crap and FOCUS and what is important.

Want to improve your pitch deck and make sure it appeals to investors?  Then book a quick call with me.  I have helped hundreds of startup founders close their funding rounds and raise millions of euros in the process.