To me, writing a pitch deck sounds painful. Not to mention time-consuming and intimidating.
No one teaches us how to create an effective pitch deck to present to VCs or angel investors.
You could always watch one of those kinda long recorded talks that we have in our video library, but 60 minutes of content is a bit of a slog.
Luckily, we just launched Uncapped Notes, a set of quick videos that give tactical advice about navigating venture capital and startups.
Show hosts Eric (co-founder of Hustle Fund) and Janel (Head of Business Development at Hustle Fund) kick off episode 1 with the most important skill you need to know for your pitch deck…
Writing titles that VCs will actually read.
Note: Below is a summary of the video. The vid is 8 minutes long, and if you prefer to watch instead of read, you can see it here.
What to know before we start
Let me tell you a somber truth.
Most VCs only spend only a minute reviewing your entire slide deck.
Yep, the slide deck that you spent hours building and revising is skimmed for 60 seconds or less. 😲
It’s not that investors are evil. It’s simply that they’re busy!
When VCs first look at your deck, they are not deciding whether to immediately invest in your company.
Their main goal is to decide whether or not to have a chat with you to learn more.
So what’s the first thing that you can do to set yourself up for success?
Make your slide titles full sentences
Eric has reviewed over 20,000 decks in his career and frankly admits most of them are terrible.
He noticed the biggest mistake founders make is having generic titles that start with: Problem, Market, Solution, Team, Traction.
Because investors only spend a minute skimming your pitch deck, these slide titles do not force the reader to pay attention.
What’s the fix?
Make your title slides full sentences.
So if someone just reads the slide titles alone, they understand 80% of what they need to know in order to make a decision.
Let us pitch you a fake company to show examples of how we would write our slide titles.
Example: PoopAlert 💩
“Every year around the world, there are a ton of adults who are going to become new parents. These babies all have one thing in common: No I’m not talking about crying. I’m talking about pooping.
And wouldn’t it be helpful if every time that happened, you as a new parent were alerted! Because sitting in a poopy diaper is not only uncomfortable and smelly, it leads to problems down the road like diaper rash.
So we created a reusable sticker that you can put on a diaper that will alert your watch or phone when the diaper needs to be changed.”
How would we write our titles in full sentences if we were creating a pitch deck for investors?
Here’s what we would do.
- 100% of new babies develop diaper rash at some point, due to poo.
- We expect 2 million new parents in the U.S. alone this year, all of them will deal with dirty diapers. 10B / year market.
- We created a simple sticker sensor to attach to any diaper, re-usably, to track and alert diaper poop for parents.
- The two founders have 10 years of experience building wearables for top textile companies. Met as PhDs at Harvard University.
- Our Kickstarter has 1m in pre-orders already, before we’ve even shipped a single product.
Why is writing like this so effective?
- Every sentence is clear and informative – it gives a great snapshot of our fake company
- We address the problem, market, solution, team, and traction without using those words.
- In less than a minute, an investor has enough information to make a decision of whether or not she would like to have a chat to learn more
If a sentence is the title… what do you put below?
When Eric helps founders build their pitch decks, he spends 70% of his time working on the titles alone.
Those are the most important things, so you should start there first.
Once you have the titles nailed down, include data that support and augment your statement at the very top of the slide.
For example, in slide 2 we wrote, “We expect 2 million new parents in the U.S. alone this year, all of them will deal with dirty diapers, 10B / year market.”
This is a great opportunity to find data from reputable sources like CB Insights or Gartner to add underneath the title to validate what you just wrote.
One final tip on writing pitch decks
Write as if you are talking to a friend.
This is not an academic paper. The casual and light tone tends to vibe well with VCs and investors.
Talking like a real person makes you relatable… the kind of person investors would want to have coffee with.