Pitch Deck Month: The Team Slide

Topics: Fundraising


*This post is part of our “pitch deck” series where we dissect the seed stage pitch deck and discuss the ideal flow for a pitch. You can read the rest of the posts in the series by clicking here*


Of all of the slides in a pitch deck for VCs, the team slide should be the most straightforward.  However, we’ve found that it’s frequently the most over-engineered, and often filled with extraneous information.

The purpose of the team slide is to quickly establish strong credibility.  That’s it, then move on.

Which is why we at NextView like to have it at the beginning of a slide deck.  Yes, with Demo Day presentations Founders generally weave a story about the problem and market, and then close with something like “we are the right team to do this.”  But when you are having a real conversation with a real person, you always start by introducing yourself.  And almost every investor flips to the team slide first anyway when they receive a deck, so it’s best to save everyone the trouble and put the team slide up front.

The intent of the team slide should not be an extensive biography of the team.  Yes, everyone on the team has had numerous accomplishments which are important to them.  But a potential investor should just be able to look at the slide, and as quickly as possible, “get”, why this team is the right mix of people to have an unfair advantage to succeed in the startup’s space.  The sooner that objective can be accomplished, the sooner time can be spent in the meat of the presentation explaining the narrative of what is being built.

Accomplish this goal by succinctly citing the prior accomplishments which speak to domain and functional expertise, as well as the complementary nature of the team.  And the best way to successfully accomplish this task is visually, rather than a wall of words of lengthy bios.

So tactically speaking, start with a line-up of faces.  After all, a startup is comprised of human beings.  Then add logos of only the companies or institutions which matter to that person’s domain or functional expertise.  The logos are more quickly recognizable than written text.  Thirdly, add a few phrases speaking to what that person’s title or role was at each relevant stop.  Director of Marketing at Facebook, VP Engineering at Startup X, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, etc.  (If you really feel the need to have a more extensive set of bios which are relevant, they can be part of the Appendix “kitchen sink.”)

Lastly, a note on advisors:  Entrepreneurs often spend way too much slide real estate and pitch time detailing the startup’s advisors.  Any credible set of Founders should be able to recruit important and influential people to formally help the company.  But never is the set of advisors the reason why a company fails or succeeds.  Unless in the truly exceptional case where an advisor is actually a part-time member of the team actually doing real operational work, the team slide should only be those people who are really working on the venture on a daily basis.

The voiceover, when actually presenting the Team slide, is to briefly highlight where everyone is coming from, why that’s extremely relevant to the endeavor, and how the functional duties are delegated.  While the Team slide is so important it should be at the front, discussing it shouldn’t take a third or more of the meeting, rather just the first few minutes to establish credible context.  Short, sweet, and to the point, the key to the Team slide is to focus on what really matters as background for the startup and leave everything else out.

Seriously, don’t over think this slide. Show investors who you are and frame the story around why you are the best team to solve this problem up front. Then get into more of the meat of the presentation by discussing, “What do you do?”, which is what we will be covering next.

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