Dear Advisor: What are the most common pre-seed and seed-stage Pitch deck mistakes?

Post was originally published in December 2020, updated in March, September + October 2022, March + August 2023

Especially as a first-time founder, you don't know what you don't know. It’s no easy task to give a 90-second/2- or 3-minute pitch that inspires confidence and convinces your audience that they’ll be missing out if they don’t become a part of your journey as an investor or customer. 

Between mentoring, advising and attending pitch events for pre-seed and seed-stage start-ups, I’ve seen 100s of pitch decks. Everyone has an opinion on your pitch deck -- here's mine. :)

Why you? Why now?

Connect the dots for me so that we both agree -- and get an "aha" moment -- in agreement around understanding the customers' needs -- and how only you (and your team) can fill:

Is this the right audience for your pitch?

Do you cover "team, traction and tech"?

Do your milestones inspire confidence? You heard that your graphs need to up and to the right, to show the "hockey stick" growth. Are your graphs telling a true story?

Having said all of that, is "hockey stick" realistic? Joe Procopio advises on "How Aggressive Goals Doom a Startup: That “Hockey Stick” Revenue Chart Might Be Setting You Up For Failure"

How is the raise going to help you hit the next milestones?

Are you mentioning exit plans?, which panelists on "Perfecting the Raise: Raising Capital for Pre-Seed and Seed Stage Startups" advise against 

Do you require an NDA to see the pitch deck? as panelists on "Demystifying Venture Capital" not recommend

Parting advice with general presentation tips:

Hopefully now you've learned from others, won't make the same mistakes other are -- and stand out from the crowd. Good luck!

(Not affiliated) Opportunities to practice pitching and get feedback:

You're not hearing yeses from investors and you need advice on how to align incentives, what‘s not clear or what can be improved. I'd love to support you; please feel free to schedule this flat-fee session with me

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