Mark Suster, one of my favorite VCs (who also has an awesome blog) wrote a great article recently about how the age-old advice to send your pitch deck as a link probably is well, aged, old, and out of touch. This is something that we learned over time as we were raising for Bold Metrics; we started out incredibly cautious and paranoid when it came to our pitch deck, and then learned that we just needed to make a deck that we were comfortable sending knowing that it could get distributed to anyone and everyone.
The advice we got early-on was, “send your pitch deck as a link, that way you can control who sees it and what they see.” The idea was, you could easily update your deck and make it harder for your competitors to get a hold of it. Over time we saw this added quite a bit of friction to a process (i.e. raising money from VCs) that you as a founder want to introduce as little friction as possible into.
Mark’s point is spot on:
Your pitch deck shouldn’t contain your deepest, darkest secrets and plans. That would be something you’d only reveal when you’re well into the VC process and have established mutual trust and they’ve proven engagement with you. Whenever you write your deck and send it out I think you should actually think to yourself, “my competitors are probably going to read this one day and this will be forwarded widely” and if your response isn’t “so what!” or “that would be awesome” then I think you’re doing something wrong anyways. (Source – BothSidesOfTheTable)
This made me think back to the early days, when we weren’t actively trying to raise money. We were really paranoid, back then we were afraid to even share what we were doing for fear of someone stealing our idea. We quickly learned that ideas are cheap, execution is hard, crazy hard, and there are very few people who are going to drop everything they are doing and dedicate their life to the idea you told them.
Still it takes time to get comfortable with the idea of sharing something that means the world to you, whether it’s with an investor or with another founder. There’s always going to be that feeling that you shared too much, or that the way you presented it wasn’t nearly as good or well-articulated as it is today. Welcome to reality, that’s just how it goes.
Pitch decks are sales & marketing decks and like in any sales activity, any great sales person assumes his or her competition will eventually get their deck. So what? Competition isn’t won or lost by your marketing decks — it’s won by how you innovate and by how you execute. A deck is a deck. Just send it. It’s all upside and limited downside. (Source – BothSidesOfTheTable)
Thanks to Mark for writing this article…now I just wish I could build a time machine and read this five years ago…