AskAlex: Your Startup Strategy, Fundraising, Scaling, Financial Modeling, Marketing and Lifestyle Design Questions Answered D

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Hey guys! I’m Alexander Jarvis, a nomad, startup founder, sometime VC and recovered M&A banker. In this series we’re going to answer a question real founders and investors are struggling with every day. They won’t be generic topics, they’ll be tricky things you need to know, from how to fix your business model, specific aspects of growth marketing, fundraising and pitching investors, to how you track your metrics (that VCs want to know!). I’ve been blogging for a few years at AlexanderJarvis.com building epic founder tools and delving into complicated topics no one writes about. I love helping founders and podcasting is a fab new channel to share the one on mentoring I provide. #askalex

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Welcome to the 29th podcast of the Ask Alex show! Today the question is "35 things not what not to do in your pitch deck." Thanks for Listening! To share your thoughts: Leave a note in the comment section below. Ask a question over on Ask Alex. Share this show on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. To help out the show: Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes. Transcript You’re fundraising so you need a pitch deck. We get it. That’s why you’re here. Now getting a pitch deck right is really hard. It can, in fact, be easier to learn what to not do and not do than instead of thinking how to get it right! Here is a list of things not to do. Formatting and structure Have a deck longer than around 20 slides As much as you hate to write decks, investors hate reading them more. Don’t make life miserable for investors. Your first deck is just to establish interest. Investors use it to filter you. They don’t care till they do. If you were an investor, would you want to read a 40 page, dense deck about something you don’t care about yet. No? So don’t do it. Now people write your deck shouldn’t be more than 10 slides or some arbitrary number. There is some logic in that, but the real answer is not simple. It is ‘it depends.’ People write 10 in the hope you keep the number down. If you use best practice, the length doesn’t matter so much… because it’s easy to parse. A 40 page deck that’s super easy to read isn’t so bad, but it’s still long. Generally, a full, well-written deck is around 24 slides in my experience. A short version can be 10 slides, especially if you have traction. It depends. Use no images Images convey emotions. If you have no images your deck is really boring. Don’t be cheesy though, don’t use anything offensive. You should never have more than ~5 images on a slide (such as showing your customers with testimonials). You can use small images when you have a series of columns to show as features. It breaks up the text. I typically like to put them in circles since squares sometimes are ugly. But we are nit picking here, and of course it always depends. Use no graphs Graphs convey information in a way a table can’t. Tables are used when you have to and they do have their place, but they can be hard to parse. If you want to convey your use of funds, then 30%, 30%, 40% can be put in a little pie chart! Use small font Small font is small. It’s hard to read. Hard to read is hard to read fast. Investors want to be able to flick through your deck and they can’t do that if they have to squint. The smallest font I use is for body copy and that’s 26. You should target 30 or more. The only exception is if you are adding “Source: xyz” which can be as small as 8. Small font on charts Format every aspect of your charts. Don’t just think of the size of the pie chart. Your x/y axis labels need to be fair-sized, as does your legend, as are the numbers you present. Don’t forget that just because Excel generates a chart, you don’t have to format everything. Use weird colors/font Be simple with color use. If you have website branding colors but don’t know how to use them (nor have a designer), don’t. Opt for something standard. Your deck is not a place to be original and take a risk. Just be simple. Bebas, Poppins are all great fonts I use a lot. You can’t go wrong with blue. Write a lot of text Less is more. Do not write an essay, no one wants to read it. Write everything in bullet points. Each bullet is maybe 15 words. Each bullet actually makes a point. You don’t want to be comfortable with ‘paragraphs.’ Have an ugly deck If an investor opens a deck and it looks like a joke… they think you are a joke. The investor doesn’t know you so they judge every little thing more than you might think is reasonable. An ugly deck screams you don’t take your startup seriously and you don’t tak...