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Written By: Marc Halpin


A couple of weeks ago I came across a deck I built over 10 years ago when I was raising the seed round for my last company. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t love it! 🙂 Back in the day I thought it rocked. The difference between now and then is that I’ve seen thousands of decks and have spent a lot of time learning about what makes a great one.

With this in mind, I thought I’d be helpful and detail the mistakes I made building my pitch decks along with the common problems we see at Kerosene as we’re pitched companies every day. 

Ready? Let’s go!

  1. The deck is too long.  – Aim for 13 pages maximum. If you’d like a template, email me (or see point 8).
  2. It’s too wordy. – No paragraphs, no sentences. Statements, images and bullet points preferred.
  3. No ‘Financials’ slide. – Surprisingly, a lot of decks don’t have a clear financials or traction slide. Big mistake!
  4. No specific ask.  – Always highlight exactly what you’re aiming to raise e.g. $2.5M – never a range.
  5. Too much jargon and acronyms. – Aim for a 6th grade level. Keep it simple.
  6. Not an aggressive enough vision. – Aim high, think big, put a dent in the universe. It’s unlikely a V.C. will invest in a ‘base hit’.
  7. You have addendums. – There will be a time to ‘go deep’, your first or second pitch with a V.C. is not it. Also, see point 1!
  8. No page titles. – Page titles help the audience understand where you’re at: Title – Highlights – Problem – Solution – Market Potential – Business Model – Go To Market – Competition – Team – Traction – Use of Funds – Why Now – Summary.
  9. Doesn’t feel like a tech company.  – Venture Capital is technology. Make sure your use of funds is primarily for technology.
  10. Weak ‘Go to Market’ slide. – At Kerosene, we call this slide the ‘Deal Killer’! It’s so important to show how you acquire customers efficiently and inexpensively.

I’m not going to say this is a definitive list, but if you can eliminate the 10 problems above you’ll have a deck which will be in the top 5% an investor will see. Your chances of raising that seed round will increase dramatically.


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