Neil Patel

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Are you wondering what are the mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck?

Your pitch deck can make all the difference in getting your startup funded and giving it the fuel it needs to become what it could be. As with many things in life and business, knowing what to do is only half of the puzzle. Knowing what not to do is just as important. Sometimes even more so.  

For a winning deck, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

So, what are some of the most deadly and most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when it comes to creating a pitch deck?

Not Articulating The Problem You Are Solving Clearly

The best startups are those who are most intently focused and in tune with the problem they are solving. It needs to be a real, pressing, and ‘hair on fire’ problem and pain point that customers will actually take action on, and pay real money for.

Many startup entrepreneurs make the mistake of getting lost in all of the features and side or subproblems their product or service can solve. Not only does this confuse potential investors, but it will make them concerned that you simply can’t focus and make real progress.

Hone in on one problem and clearly explain what you are solving.

It may help if you provide a personal story or analogy in your verbal pitch that your audience can relate to.

Not Keeping Your Solution Simple

Just as with the problem, keep your solution simple and focused too. This is one of the critical aspects when figuring out the mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck.

In reality, your solution may solve a variety of things, and have many features and benefits. Don’t lose investor focus, attention, and flow by distracting them. Or lose credibility by appearing distracted. 

Your solution may be , including AI, and be cheaper, but what is the one main thing it does? What one thing can you excel at and be better at than all of your past, current, and future competitors?

Using Too Many Slides

This is one of the most important mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck. It can actually be far more serious and detrimental than most startup founders realize. If they really knew how pivotal and impactful it was, they would start building far shorter pitch decks from the beginning. 

This has certainly cost many startups their chance of getting funded. Even those who have saved themselves by coming back and finding more investors with shorter decks will have wasted months of their time, the best opportunities, and plenty of precious cash.

Shorter is better. 

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The truth is that you are not going to increase your chances of funding by making sure you get in all of the details and tech specs about your product. In reality, even if they get it, most investors don’t care. It’s not what is going to trigger them to fund you. You are far better off proving that you can focus and keep it simple. 12 slides is plenty. For early-stage startups or pre-seed startups, 7 or 8 slides might do just fine. That doesn’t mean cramming each slide full of text and numbers either.

Not Delivering On The Team Slide

While later-stage startups will be judged mostly on the numbers and data, earlier stage startups are riding mostly on their team.

Experienced investors know that the chances you will pivot, tear up, and start in a new direction with your business plan and model or even product are very high. What is more important is that your team is not only capable and focused, but will keep going and create something of value to give them a return.

So, have you surrounded yourself with a cofounding team with well-rounded skills and experience? Have you recruited a brilliant executive team that represents the best in this space and gives you an unfair advantage? Have you supplemented any gaps with advisors?

Not Doing Your Research

This is as valuable for yourself as it is for investors and getting funded. Important to note as part of the mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck. 

Be sure you have completed thorough and fresh and up to date research on all the important data around your venture.

Know what competitors are in the space, what their pricing is, and perhaps most importantly for your pitch deck, how big the market is, and your potential share of that. This is one of the most vital factors for getting funded.

One of the easiest mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck is not listing all your competitors. The investor will think that you are trying to hide things from them. 

Not Tailoring Your Pitch Deck To The Specific Investors You Are Pitching

While you don’t want to be bogged down in endlessly tweaking your pitch deck as a full-time job instead of working on the real business, tailoring can be very important.

Be sure you are bringing out the most significant elements to the specific crowd of investors you are presenting too. You can pre-design a couple of slides and versions of your deck you can quickly substitute with depending on the circumstances.

What works best may change based on whether you are pitching investors who really care about your industry, business model, technology, etc. 

Don’t miss out on big funding opportunities and the chance to bring very valuable investors onto your team for the sake of not tweaking a slide. This is a critical one of the mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck

Taking The Long Route

Too many entrepreneurs take the very long route to create a pitch deck which is one of the interesting mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck. They try reinventing the wheel and spend a whole lot of extremely precious and valuable time redesigning the same mousetrap. 

Disruption and innovation and being unique can be valuable in many ways in business. It’s just not profitable in many areas when there is already something that works well you can use. 

There are already proven pitch deck templates out there that you can just plug your unique information into. Do that and get onto the next important task.

Not Prominently Displaying Your Contact Information

Can you imagine an investor finally being convinced to write you a big and important check, only to give up and go fund your competition because it wasn’t fast and easy to find your contact info!

Make it super easy and obvious to get in touch with you and fund you.

Not Getting A Second Opinion

Before you hit send on your deck or rush off to present it, it is just common sense to get the feedback of someone experienced at this. 

Hopefully, this post provided some light around the mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck.

In the video below I cover in detail the mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck.

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Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about the mistakes to avoid when creating your pitch deck. The pitch deck is critical. When you’re raising money, it’s going to make it or break it. It’s really going to be that document that is going to create or generate that story that investors are going to essentially buy or not. That’s why you want to make sure that you’re avoiding stupid mistakes that can really get you out of being able to access that money. In today’s video, we’re going to really break it down for you. We’re going to give you the insights, and again, show you what the typical mistakes are that entrepreneurs make when they’re putting their slides together and try to put them in front of investors. With that being said, let’s get into it.

The first mistake is not articulating the problem clearly. The way that you want to go about it is that essentially, you want to articulate the problem in a way in which the investor either directly or indirectly relate to the problem. You see, their cousin, their daughter, their son, their wife, or their husband actually experienced that same problem. They can really relate to that frustration that that problem creates. Essentially, you want to articulate it in a way in which it comes clearly. It’s not going to be three problems, four problems, ten problems; it needs to be one problem, and it needs to be a meaningful problem so that people get it and they get excited by it.

You also need to articulate the solution in a clear way. Again, this needs to come as a follow-up, typically, to the problem because, obviously, here, you’re talking about the problem; people relate to it, and then it needs to come with a punch, the solution. That solution that you’re introducing and that you’re bringing to the market that really addresses that problem. It needs to be done in a way in which right away they get it. In a way, as well, in which it’s clear and simple, and you should not overcomplicate yourself. Just make it simple. Perhaps, it’s a solution statement, and that’s the way that you leave it.

Then the other thing that you may want to add in that slide to complement it is a powerful picture of your product or perhaps the service in action, so that way, people really get it, also, with the visual there.

The next thing is using too many slides. Typically, on average, it’s going to be 15 to 25 slides. You can actually grab the pitch template below that is being used by entrepreneurs to raise millions all over the world, and you’ll get a good idea of the length. Also, you can use it for yourself. But, again, keep it simple because, on average, it has been demonstrated that investors only spend 2 minutes and 41 seconds per presentation. They’re literally going slide by slide and skimming through it. They’re not even spending time to read. So that’s why you want to keep it short; you want to keep it simple, and you really want to go into the point.

The problem here that I see founders making all the time, that mistake is just putting a big bio for people to read. You should keep it simple. Put a bunch of logos of companies that you and your team have worked at. Also, avoid even putting your interns on the slide. Just put the leadership team. Who are the key founders? Maybe there is a follow-up slide to this, where you’re talking about the advisors. Why are you the right individuals to execute on this problem? What kind of expertise do you bring to the table? What meaningful things have you done in your professional career to demonstrate that people should be betting on you? Those are the critical things that you want to do here. Avoid the noise; avoid trying to dress it up; just go to the point; maybe bullet points and logos might be the best way to go rather than complicating it too much.

Not doing all the research: this is a big one. Whether that is on the market size, making sure you have the right number, how big that market is. Make sure that you have credible resources or credible sources that you have looked up or that people can actually go and reference back to it. 

You should also make sure that you’re keeping an eye out on the competitive landscape so that you’re putting the right people in the right places. The problem that I see here is that you just put a few of them, and then the investor thinks that you’re maybe hiding something. Try to put as many competitors as possible so that they see that you’ve done your research and that you understand where you fall in the market.

Also, not tailoring the pitch deck to the specific investor that you’re meeting. This is a big one, as well, because it’s not going to be the same way that you’re going to be representing things, perhaps, to an angel investor when you’re talking about returns where they’re happy with a 5x return, a 5-times return on their investment versus the return that a venture capital firm is going to expect, which is going to be 10x their investment because that money needs to justify for the losses in other companies in their fund, so it needs to be big enough where they can justify it making a bet in your business. Again, it’s going to vary from investor to investor. Some investors may be more excited about certain things versus others, so maybe what you want to do here is put some time into really researching what kind of investment theses they have and what makes them tick.

Taking the long route: let’s face it. Most of the things are out there; most of the things are invented. Don’t try to recreate the wheel. Just go out there, do some research, see some other pitch decks that people have done, and try to get some ideas and inspiration from what they’ve done and maybe incorporate it into what you’re doing. That way, you can get a kickstart. Then, you can start to iterate on that, to give it the right colors that adjust to what you’re doing, but don’t try to recreate the wheel. Try to benefit from all the great work that other people have actually published and have made available on the web so that you can get some inspiration. Again, try to see what others have done that they’ve done successfully, where they were able to raise a ton of money, and perhaps see what worked, what didn’t work, and try to apply it to your own story.

Another mistake is not prominently putting your contact information. Let’s face it. You don’t know who that pitch deck is going to be forwarded to. Maybe there’s going to be someone who receives it; they’re excited; they want to contact someone, and then all of a sudden, there’s no contact information. Who are they going to call? You should put it on the cover slide and also on the back-cover slide, which is the slide at the end, even your cellphone number. If they need to call you at 2:00 am, you should be ready to get up and pick up that phone because when investors are excited, you need to strike while the iron is hot. You need to make sure to get them involved whenever they are excited and when they are ready to go, so be ready. Have that phone ready. Give them the contact information so that they can reach out. Don’t make the mistake of not putting anything and just wondering if maybe they’re going to put a message in a bottle and throw it in a river, and it’s going to land on your doorstep. That doesn’t happen, so put your contact information.

Lastly, another mistake is not getting a second opinion. Instead of just grabbing your pitch deck and distributing it, why don’t you grab that pitch deck, share it with your employees, share it with your existing investors, and with other people like, perhaps, advisors that can give you, from their own lens, how they’re seeing things, how you could optimize it, how you can make it better because maybe they’re going to see holes that you’re not seeing. So, again, this is a crowdsourcing type of plan or project that you want to do here, where you get a ton of people to give you feedback on your pitch deck because that is going to allow you to ultimately have something even better than just doing it on your own.

I would love to hear on the comment section how you’re thinking about those mistakes and what kind of other mistakes you’ve seen. Also, Like this video and subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re rolling out every single week. 

And then, take a look at the fundraising training, which is the program where we help founders from A to Z with everything related to fundraising. There, you’ll find live Q&As, templates, agreements, a community of entrepreneurs helping each other all over the world, and you’ll find tremendous value in it. Thank you so much for watching.


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Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

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