Pitch Deck Alternatives

I was going through my email this morning and opening pitch decks, skimming them, and responding to indicate if they are a fit with our thesis and of interest to me and my colleagues at USV.

Everyone who works in VC or does angel investing does this daily. I probably open and skim 10-20 pitch decks a day and sometimes a lot more.

So on the way to yoga, after making a dent in my inbox, I was thinking if there was an alternative to pitch decks that would be as efficient at communicating the idea (pitch decks really are great at this) that would serve the entrepreneur as well.

I came up with three ideas in my seven minute walk to the gym:

1/ Record a short video (less than three minutes) in which you communicate who you are (or who the team is), what the idea is, and why you are doing it. Post it to Vimeo behind a password and share it via email. We use a technique like this in our analyst interview process and you can convey a lot of information this way but, importantly, you can also communicate who you are and why you are doing it.

2/ Have a friend or colleague interview you in podcast format. Keep it to three to five minutes max. Then post it to a streaming platform like SoundCloud behind a password and share it via email. I like the interview format a lot. It allows you to script the Q&A but provide a lot of personality in the answers.

3/ Write a letter, like the letters some founders and CEOs put at the start of their IPO filings, that explains your vision and why you are doing this. A well written letter can be an incredible sales tool.

The key is finding a format that suits you and that you are comfortable with. The pitch deck is efficient and powerful but everyone uses it and it does not allow you to stand out and be noticed in a sea of pitch decks.

Whatever you do, keep it short. If someone is going through 10-20 pitches every morning in their email routine, you have to get your story across simply and crisply or it won’t get the attention it deserves.

Finally, please don’t punish my good deed of sharing these ideas by flooding my inbox with videos, podcasts, and letters this week. I have a very busy week and am already behind before the week gets started.

And don’t take this blog post as a message to stop sending me pitch decks and replace with one of these alternatives. Pitch decks work fine for me. I like them.

I’m just staying that you can and should be creative and play to your strengths when pitching your company. You have to get noticed somehow.