start-ups

Deck or Conversation?

When meeting with a Founder for the first time, one of the questions I’m often asked is “Would you like to see a deck or just have a conversation?” The answer is that the most effective meetings are a combination of both.

From a Founder’s perspective, it’s important to remember what the goals of the meeting are. The foremost goal is to secure funding. The second goal is to understand whether or not the person you are meeting with can bring value outside of their dollars. The third goal, is to leverage the meeting into specific advice or introductions.

What works best? Anything from wireframes to mocks to prototypes can be helpful. White board or napkin sessions can work too. They all provide a good jumping off point to compare notes on product and a company’s mission. That said, I think it’s helpful to include some slides expressing a viewpoint on the market and explaining why this is the right team to attack it. This is an opportunity for Founders to shape perception.

What works worst? Standing powerpoint automatons with slide builds.

Nobody understands a company as well as its Founder. So, when speaking with people less informed about their company, it’s helpful to slow down the discussion and introduce some visual aids. Remember, a prospective investor knows very little about a seed stage company before the meeting. In fact, once the meeting starts they are immediately playing catch-up.

The best pitches feel like conversations, but they are pitches. Effective Founders use whatever tools they can muster to shape an investors perception. They walk the investor through the story of what they want to build and why. They make a calculated message feel like a casual conversation.

2 thoughts on “Deck or Conversation?

  1. Great advice Kent! The last time I raised money I observed exactly what you describe in your article. If the deck came out too early, the meeting rarely went well. If I could collaborate on the vision with the VC, they often got excited about the business. We broke out of the buyer/seller dynamic and moved more toward business partners.

  2. Pingback: The One Question Every Investor Needs to Ask Themselves | The Cornice

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