What if someone steals your pitch deck? How do you prevent it? What can you do if they steal it

You’ve put a lot of passion into your new business idea, bringing together the perfect team, and commissioning an amazing pitch deck that could raise millions of dollars.

The last thing you want is for someone to just steal your idea and deck, and then squeeze you out by mastering startup fundraising and running with your idea without you. It’s a concern many new entrepreneurs have. Is it really warranted? What best practices do you need to know?

Should I Be Worried About Someone Stealing My Pitch Deck?

Put simply, no. 

In 99% of cases, entrepreneurs should not worry about their deck being stolen. 

First of all, if you have time to worry about this, you probably have too much time on your hands and aren’t focusing enough on what’s most important for making this startup a success.

The odds of someone flat out stealing your pitch deck and business and going to pitch the same investors you had lined up, and succeeding at this are probably very small. Not impossible, but small.

Sure, there may be some unscrupulous criminals out there who just want to scoop decks and raise money to defraud everyone and make some quick cash. Though, even if they try doesn’t mean they’ll pull it off.

To put it in perspective, it’s also worth asking, who is likely to steal your pitch deck? 

If these are some foreign professional criminal hackers, chances are that they can steal all your data and identity right from your devices without you ever sharing this deck anyway. If this is your biggest concern, try some military-grade devices and encryption.

If it is other entrepreneurs, chances are they won’t pull it off if they aren’t even good enough to create their own decks.

Investors are highly unlikely to steal your deck. They have thousands to look at every month and can afford to create their own. They are in business to fund others who handle operations.

They are far less likely to want to go back to operating a startup after they have become angels or partners at venture capital firms. If they love the idea, they are more likely to fund you. Even if they suggest you bring in some additional help to execute.

Some brand new entrepreneurs fear their team members or the outsourced help they recruit will steal their ideas. If you are worried that a $10 virtual assistant can run with this and do it better than you, then you might want to go back to the drawing board and find a better moat anyway. Your designer isn’t going to keep your deck. At least as long as you pay them on time.

Remember that you can hurt more the business with your own decisions than any other competitor. For a competitor to get up to speed with where you are it could take them months or years even if they have a masterful execution.

If someone steals your pitch deck it will haighly likely to be one of your co-founding partners. Hopefully, you aren’t married to cofounders who you think are likely to do this. By this stage, you should also have your corporate legal documents structured and filed to protect your interest anyway.

If they want to go do all the work without you and have to send you the same size checks every month, then consider that a fantastic way to stumble onto a great early retirement plan.

Really getting to the heart of the matter, why are you pursuing this startup idea? Is it just to make the money? Or are you inspired to help others and solve this probably for lots of people?

If it is just the money, there are probably easier ways to make a quick buck than to become a startup founder. If you just want to help and solve the issue, then if your deck is stolen, you should be glad someone else solves this problem for you, without you have to work so hard for it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the most successful startups and entrepreneurs seem only happy to publicly publish their decks and share them.

In this regard, storytelling plays a key role in fundraising and you will need capital to scale things up. This is being able to capture the essence of the business in 15 to 20 slides. 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.

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

It’s Already Too Late [Ideas Are Cheap]

The truth is that ideas are cheap and plentiful so you should not worry too much if someone steals your pitch deck. Angels and VCs see thousands of them every month. If you are picking your investors right, they’ve probably seen at least a dozen to several hundred similar pitches already. They’ve probably thought about a similar business themselves.

The number one difference is in having the team that can execute best and is taking action. If you have deep domain knowledge in this space and are making progress, are intensely focused and just won’t quit, then that is your edge, not the rest of your deck.

Competition Is Good

Not only is it likely there are at least two or three other entrepreneurs and teams tackling this problem, but that competition can be good. 

Someone else promoting the same ideas is going to help make it more obvious there is a demand for this. If a competitor raises $9M in a Seed round, then that already sets a nice comparison for what investors should be wanting to give you. It can help gain users and talent too.

Most of all, the competition will force you to do even better work.

Maximum visibility is your best ally. The more people who catch this idea, see your deck and hear your name the better. This far outweighs the downside risk of your deck being stolen.

How To Protect Your Pitch Deck Anyway

If someone steals your pitch deck is a constant concern, there are some things you can do to protect your deck and ideas.

  • Have a great legal team on call that other people fear
  • Copyright all your slide and watermark your images
  • Use online presentation tools which allow you to rescind access remotely
  • Only send it to people you really know and trust
  • Use NDAs and non-compete agreements (just know this limits who will bother to view it and want to do business with you at this stage)

 

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