Pitch Deck Mistakes to Avoid

By Kera DeMars October 29th, 2019

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Since joining the Hustle Fund team 3 months ago, I’ve looked at hundreds of pitch decks.

When I first came on board, this was my thinking:

“Pitch decks can’t possibly matter. What’s important is the founder and their brilliant idea.”

And if you have deep connections to investors who already believe in you and your business, maybe that’s true.

But for the other 99% us, pitch decks are a critical step in the fundraising journey.

But for every 100 pitch decks we review at Hustle Fund, only about 5 of them are invited to pitch our team over a video call.

This got me thinking… what’s happening in those other pitch decks? What changes should those founders make to increase their odds of getting a meeting?

This article is the first in a series that digs into this very question.

Over the next few weeks, we'll publish detailed information about the most common (and deadly) mistakes we see in pitch decks. 

And we'll include tips on what you can do to fix them.

*keep in mind that this series is reflective of the Hustle Fund team's beliefs and opinions, not every investor in the world. Also, we are a pre-seed fund; companies that focus on Series A or beyond will likely look for different elements.

 1. It’s too long

For an early stage company, the pitch deck has one purpose: to drive interest about your business… enough interest to schedule a meeting.

That’s it.

It should not (and will not) convince someone to invest in the company.

You should be able to accomplish that goal in 5-10 slides, max. If your pitch deck is 12+ pages, you are providing too much information.

Too much information can be risky because it gives investors more opportunities to find red flags. 

For example, if your pitch deck includes a plan to hire 4 engineers in the next 12 months, but the investor thinks you only need 2, she might pass on the opportunity. 

So here's the solution: omit unnecessary details so that investors can focus on the details that matter most – like the problem you’re trying to solve and the approach you’re taking to win.

Now, if you’re thinking, “No problem! I’ll just squish slides 11, 12, and 13 onto one slide… shrink down my text, and voila!”... please don’t. 

Your most powerful elements will get lost in all the noise.

Instead, cut anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. 

For example...

  • That slide about how many people you’re going to hire → Focus instead on the amazing team you already have (even if it’s just you)
  • Those inspirational quotes by Benjamin Franklin → Cut 'em. You’re innovating. We get it.
  • Screenshots of the product → These won’t be nearly as powerful as a live demo of your product.
  • Your revenue projections for the next 5 years → Tell us instead what about your growth over the last few months.

TIP: If you’re having trouble ruthlessly editing your own work, try this: present your deck to someone who knows nothing about your industry. 

A child would be ideal. If you don’t have one readily available, try a parent, grandparent, or sibling.

As you explain your business to someone who doesn’t understand your industry, you’ll quickly realize what is (and what is NOT) a powerful addition to the deck.

This article is the first in a series about common (and deadly) pitch deck mistakes. Want to get the next chapter delivered to your inbox? Click here to sign up.