There's something about California pitch decks that Houston companies can learn a thing or two from. Most of them are simpler and highlight those few key points that really show a company might be a success. Simpler, in this case, is good.
However, the investor pitch deck doesn't get you the investment, the deck gets you the meeting. And when an investor is considering a company to meet with, they don't want to comb through scientific detail before getting to know the entrepreneur. It's the entrepreneur who we want to talk to. We want to see and hear their ability to communicate the complex information.
The simple pitch deck is crucial for the entrepreneur to get that initial meeting. It forces the entrepreneur to showcase their best and most important key metrics. Then, it's the entrepreneurs live performance is the real key to attaining an investment.
In Houston — and in other more conservative towns — we tend to see pitch decks that have a lot more information density on each page. It ends up being a traditional business plan, but in landscape orientation instead of portrait orientation.
A lot of more traditional investors in cities like Houston must prefer this additional detail in the deck, right?
Perhaps, but the trend I see is that cities where more venture capital dollars are raised (seed-stage and otherwise) tend to have simpler pitch decks for that initial outreach. San Francisco's are simpler than New York's. New York's are simpler than Austin's. Austin's are simpler than Houston's. And so on.
Maybe I am wrong to recommend having the simpler pitch deck in an environment where there are fewer investors and fewer deals. However, when the simpler pitch deck can be made by cutting away parts of the longer more complex one, shouldn't entrepreneurs be able to create this pitch deck? The process is boiling down the core message, and who doesn't want to work on that?
Work on that elevator pitch and work on that short pitch deck. Of course you need to detail, but sometimes you need the simplicity.
Mark Friday is an associate leading venture capital investments at Houston-based Cathexis Holdings LP.