How a founder grew up out of a16z without breaking open PowerPoint
For all focus on pitch decks (en more than 80 articles on the subject), you would think it would be impossible for startups to raise money without angels or institutional investors. That’s not quite correct. This is why.
If you go back far enough in the history of investing, you needed a comprehensive business plan to raise funding from institutional investors. The Harvard Business Review has a great guide to making one. The exact details of what goes into a business plan vary, but often include history, market analysis, strategy, product and service descriptions, org charts, competitive analysis, management team, financial plans and projections, along with all the research to make each section. to support .
That’s all well and good, but by the time you’ve completed all that, your business plan will have grown into a novel full of pages – which is for you add all images and charts. Business plans are great for teaching you the basics and dynamics of the business, and mistakes in a business plan are a great way to show potential entrepreneurs how to avoid problems before they happen.
The problem is that it’s out of date before the ink dries, and the financials are inaccurate long before you even hit “print”. It’s not that startups operate on a different dynamic than other companies, but they are essentially the agile equivalents of the ancient dinosaurs. Build it, test it, iterate.
Essentially, startups are the equivalent of how software is built today: instead of spending six months writing out a full product spec that doesn’t make sense before writing a single line of code, you launch a lean MVP version of the product and fit you turn it on from there.
There were a few proponents of doing business plans differently, including Guy Kawasaki, whose “you only need 10 slidesargument may be a little too deep into deep minimalism, but at least it was more useful for weaving a pitch story than a 90-page business plan. In short: the pitch deck was to the business plan what agile software development was waterfall software development.
From there, the market evolved and some founders chose not to use a deck at all.
“The story is super important,” says Tom Hacohen, the CEO of webhooks-as-a-service company Svix, who recently raised a funding round from Andreessen Horowitz without using a deck. “Investors are not webhook experts, so they need to understand the story. To do that, we had to tell a great story — and when we did, they really started to get into the business. They understood our statistics and started talking to a large part of our customers. At that point, the deck is just going to help me show them what they already know.
Let’s see how you can tell your company’s story without relying on a deck!