Strong Opinions @marksbirch

Random thoughts from a NYC entrepreneur and investor about start-ups, technology and the people that make it all happen. Also find time for good tunes and good food.
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Using similar decks for investors and customers rarely works well

So I had the deck complete. It was a marvel to look at, all shiny and fancy and so on point. It had all the right information, hit all the pertinent points, looked all hockey stick enthusiastic, and just oozed money. This was the deck that was going to unleash upon our humble startup mountains of cash and rain more coin upon us than water fell from the sky during the days of Noah.

Then reality set in. The deck was not really bowling people over. Investors kind of got the message, but for customers, the deck was pretty lackluster. There was nothing compelling about the information and the story we were telling did not resonate with their needs. In short, this marvel of modern pitchery we so highly lauded landed with a big fat thud.

Holy crap did I lay a sticker. All was not lost though, but it was humbling to say the least. That the guy that vocally criticizes pitches should get this one wrong was a complete kick in the gut. And it comes down to a simple fact that I completely ignored; the customer pitch is absolutely not the same as the investor pitch.

What investors see versus what customers see in pitch decks are two completely different things. Investors are looking for big market opportunities that can net a significant return on capital. Yeah it serves a need and yeah it does X, Y, and Z, but ultimately it is the four legs as I call it: Team Market Product Traction Investors calculate all that and figure out the likelihood of this team, in this market, with this product can result in a homerun investment. That in a nutshell is investor calculus.

Customers are not investors however. They have a problem and need it solved. That you are tackling a big market is irrelevant. That you are traction is mildly interesting but not important. Your team is a bit more relevant, but it ultimately comes down to the product and how it solves their needs. That is what you have to solve for.

Now, I might do my fair share of dumb things, but I did edit the customer deck from the investor deck. I pulled a few slides and modified them to fit the customer situation. The problem though was that I was now shoehorning an investor oriented story into a customer oriented story and the story never meshed. The whole thing came off as disjointed and lacking and drained of passion and vision. And that is about the worst thing you can do to yourself because you are not selling on strength and value.

Build the investor deck and the customer deck separately. Do them at different times and do not be tempted to leverage a few slides here and there to move things along. Truly put yourself into the head of the audience and see with their eyes what they see and think and experience. When you do this, you will realize that you are building the story very differently for each group.

  1. gbattle said: Customers/investors don’t care about features, they care about benefits. Dont confuse the two.
  2. jdalarose reblogged this from marksbirch and added:
    This actually came up at my company the other day. I don’t use a deck when I pitch customers, so there is no customer...
  3. marksbirch posted this