The CEO of one of our portfolio companies is working on a fundraising deck and asked me for some tips. I gave him my favorite, "keep it to six slides." He ended up with thirteen which I see as a moral victory.
The founder and CEO of another of our portfolio companies is wrapping up a large round and he showed me his pitch deck. Guess what? Six slides. I had nothing to do with his deck. But it was a work of art.
Like many things in life, less is more in fundraising slides. You can explain your business in mind numbing detail or you can inspire an investor and let them imagine. Guess what works better?
If you succeed in inspiring an investor, there will always be an opportunity to do a deep dive in a follow up meeting. If you must, you can put your other fifty slides in the appendix.
I learned this lesson when Brad and I starting raising USV 2004 in the fall of 2003. We retained an advisor to help us raise the fund and they told us to keep our deck to "six slides." I was aghast. How could Brad and I possibly take all that we had done and learned in almost 20 years in the venture business and put it into six slides?
But the advisor won that argument. Two things happened. We learned to simplify our story and we learned how to create six killer slides. And killer slides are not slides with a dozen bullets each. They are six powerful points that combine to tell the meat of the story.
So when you sit down and build your pitch deck, think of six slides that will inspire and leave something for the imagination. The best part of six slides is that you will get through them in time to have a real substantive conversation face to face about your business. Imagine that.