Part 5: Pitch Deck Mistakes

By Kera DeMars

focus
This is the final chapter in a 5-part series called Pitch Deck Mistakes. We dive into 5 common (and deadly) mistakes we see all the time at Hustle Fund, explain why they're risky, and give concrete examples about what you can do to improve your deck. 


At an entrepreneurial conference I attended last week, a man with a microphone and a camera approached me. He was looking for people to pitch him business ideas for a content piece he was producing.

And since I’ve been chewing on a business idea for a few years now, I was happy to participate.

So, I pitched him my idea: an app that would tell airline travelers key information about their airport.

I explained my idea and listed all the features my app would have:

  • A way for travelers to warn others about long security lines
  • A way for airport restaurants to offer discounts to passengers on delayed flights
  • A forum for travelers to request help from other (EX: “we ran out of diapers!” or “I forgot my charger!”)
  • Integration with Lyft so people can easily book rides home from the airport
  • Membership program so people can earn points based on how many airports they visit in a year

The list goes on.

Then I explained that these features would allow us to make money in different ways: affiliate marketing, in-app purchases, revenue from the airport shops for premium placement… you get the idea. 

And after I described my *brilliant* idea to this interviewer, he asked me this question: 

“Seems like there’s a lot going on. What’s the ultimate goal of the business?”

Whoops.

I had lost him.

Even if this guy liked my idea in theory, he knew from a single conversation that the model was too complicated. How would I get my business off the ground if I was chasing every opportunity on the table?

This happens all the time in pitch decks.


Why it’s bad

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: investors want to see founders who are focused.

They prefer that your business does one thing exceptionally well rather than do many things with mediocrity.

Why? Because at this early stage of your business, resources are limited. 

If you go after multiple opportunities at once, you’re spreading those resources too thin.

When that happens, your primary product (or service, or offering) will suffer in a big way.


What does this mean for your pitch deck?

Simply put: your pitch deck should demonstrate focus.

So, if you have multiple products – and/or a bunch of different features on the roadmap  – keep it out of the pitch deck.

By showing investors that your team is aligned and can build and scale a product successfully, they’ll have faith that you can keep that momentum going. 

Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of investors shelving your deck before you even get on a call.

 

But my business already has multiple products, and they’re all successful!

I heard a founder say this on a call to a potential investor a few months ago.

You know what the investor said? 

“If product #2 is making up 70% of your revenue, why would you keep investing in product #1? Why not go all-in on product #2?”

This reaction made sense to me.

Pivoting from one product or service to another isn’t that risky if you know you can be successful.

It’s far more risky – and uses far more resources – to pursue 2 products at once… especially in the early stages of your company.

 

Is this the end of Pitch Deck Mistakes?

Sadly, yes. At least for now.

But since I’m learning about the best – and worst – fundraising practices just like all of you, I’ll continue to share insights as they come in.

So who knows? Maybe you'll see Part 6 come through one day.


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And tune into the other parts of the Pitch Deck Mistake series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4