Storytelling for Fundraising

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All Founders have a big vision and passion for building their business, but packaging that story into a deck is tricky. Last week we discussed the art of storytelling and more specifically, the deck creation process for fundraising. We invited William Dyess from TXN Advsiors, who has helped 100+ companies raise $600m+ in VC funding to speak with Francesca de Quesada Covey, Head of Early Stage Investments. Previous to TheVentureCity, Francesca led cross-company strategy development at Meta, where she honed her skill of storytelling and building clear, focused decks.

We have compiled our favorite tips below.

Top 5 Tips

Long form document first

  • Brain dump all of your ideas, don't begin in a deck
  • Craft your story based on the best ideas from your long form document

Make the title page count

  • It may be the only one people read, and it helps them decide if they are interested
  • Your purpose should be crystal clear, not fluffy or abstract
  • Include traction metrics if possible: double digit growth, users even if pre-revenue, and/or revenue

80% of pitch decks use the problem + solution format (example)

  • Only use a “done it before team” deck, leading with the team slide, if you have done a similar business and have raised $xxxM or had a $xxxM exit
  • Ivy league degrees and/or big 5 consulting experience isn’t enough

“Kill your darlings”

  • Abandon stories, copy, or data that does not clearly improve the story

Market size 

  • The TAM can be nested in the problem statement
  • A 3 circle market slide can go to the appendix if you have done a good job telling a story of the problem + market early on

Building Your Deck 🤓

Strongest slides at the beginning 

  • Include traction early on (growth, users even if pre-revenue, revenue/GMV)
  • This gives the reader context and grounds them in reality
  • Until investors see data, they have questions and doubts

Use titles to tell a story

  • Avoid one word titles such as “problem” or “vision”
  • Explain what the problem or vision is in a few words directly in the title
  • ^ Folks do title skimming, so this feeds them the story at the highest level
  • Title font size: 28 pts to 30 pts

Slide-Specific Tips ✍️

Title or purpose

  • Make sure to have a strong title page; it may be the only slide they read
  • Include: what you do (no fluff), stats on growth rate or traction if relevant, and the ask

Problem statement

  • Explain the market in the problem statement
  • Articulate the problem using simple language that anyone can understand
  • Example: 800 million people work out every day, and most don’t know that rowing is the most effective low impact exercise
  • ^ Quantifiable, customer target is clear, and it tees up the product

Team slide

  • Names, photos, title
  • Logos from prior work experience
  • Superpower; this is especially relevant for Pre-Seed stage

Get Feedback 🤝

  • User test: Ask your friends and family for feedback
  • If they aren't excited by everything on your deck or don't understand it, adjust
  • You want 100 people to all walk away knowing the same thing

Manage Investor Calls 🤗

  • Use docsend to track opens
  • Ask investors how well they know your startup from a scale of 1-10
  • ^ If they say 1-4, walk through deck and if they say 8-10, you can go to questions
  • Follow up linking appendix slides from your data room (don’t make them dig)

Reminders 👀

  • Avoid fluffy and verbose language
  • Example: “Building community” is vague and overused
  • Use neutral, easy to understand language
  • Think about your stakeholders' background knowledge, and the value they derive from each slide