As a VC analyst at Partech Ventures, I’ve processed through hundreds of pitch decks. Some are fascinating, some boring, some are really well-designed, and some look like they’ve been preserved from the 1990s. I generally prefer speaking to entrepreneurs, but because of time constraint, unfortunately pitch decks are still the most common way for founders to introduce their startups.
After some time, I’ve started to recognize a pattern: the decks that generally make it to the “next round” (introductory call) all have one element that other decks lack or fail to convey clearly: the vision.
By “vision”, I don’t mean farfetched purpose statements such as “We want to be the next Uber for X” or “We want to unbundle Y and replace Z completely” — you leave these at the beginning to paint the big picture.
What I mean by “vision” is rather how you envision the company will grow. This is generally best illustrated by a timeline; for example:
“This year, we want to sign [X] number of clients, achieve [this] and [this].”
“By Q2 next year, we’ll add [these] specific features to our product in order to tap into a [certain] customer segment.”
“Next year, our target revenue is $[X] millions. To meet that target, we’ll need to recruit 2 more sales agents to scale up customer acquisition.”
“As soon as we hit [X] revenue in country [A], we’re going to expand our operations to countries [B] and [C] because [Y] and [Z].”
“Eventually, we would like to extend beyond our core services into [X] space.”
The world is in constant flux. Things change, people change, companies change. I understand that most startups will not stick to their original plan. Some might even pivot into something entirely different. The key here is that you do have a plan with clearly defined goals, that you’re not just trying out an idea. This assures investors that you are an expert in your market, you know your product inside out, and most importantly, you know what success means for your company.
Venture capital is betting on the future. So you must help investors see the future you’ve envisioned — in as much details as possible. Because if you don’t have a clue about where you’re heading, no one wants to join the ride.