In a lot of the pitch deck teardowns, I get stumped by a certain slide, even though I am 99% sure that when a founder uses it to pitch a VC, they will give a little bit of additional context that “unlocks” the slide and helps it make sense.
The specific slide that inspired this post was from Forethought's Series C deck, which ended up raising $65 million for the TechCrunch Battlefield-winning company, but I'd be lying if I said that this was an uncommon problem.
The issue with this slide is that while it looks very pretty, it doesn't contain a photo of Forethought's founders. In addition, it is wedged between two slides about the company's customers and its value proposition. That left me confused because now there were two ways of interpreting this slide: It's possible that Forethought was named as one of Forbes' next billion-dollar startups. Or it has all of the companies on said list as customers and is flexing in the same way that some companies will say “200 of the S&P 500 companies use our product.”
A quick search later confirmed that the former was true — Forethought is on the Forbes list — but if I have to conduct a search to make sense of a slide, that's not a good sign.
It's such a great example, though, of a slide that looks good and could work great with just a few words of voice-over. The thing is, though, that while most VC pitch decks are presentation decks, that is far from the only context in which you'll be using your deck. In fact, there are at least four:
- The teaser deck.
- The send-ahead deck.
- The presentation deck.
- The leave-behind deck.
Let's talk through the differences and similarities between your pitch decks and take a closer look at what each deck needs to do in each context. I'll also show how you can avoid having to build and maintain 9,000 different decks.