Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Evolution of a Pitch

In this post, we'll take a look at how our investor pitch has evolved over the past year.

As securing financing is perhaps the most important task of any startup, and as the pitch deck is perhaps the most crucial tool in that process, you'd think that's the one thing startups do really well. But it turns out that in addition to the pitch deck, there's so much other stuff that a startup needs to be involved in, that one never gets enough time to get the pitch perfected. So some of our pitch decks below are just plain horrible, whereas others we feel are OK, meaning good enough to deliver the message. But there's no pitch we're even nearly 100% happy with.

Our first ever public presentation was at FiBAN Pirkanmaa Pitching Competition, after having worked as a team for less than two months. Despite the appearance of the slide set, we ended up on second place out of 12 teams and companies.

For Slush, prepared a deck for sit-down meetings with investors, and another one for the product launch (above). You can also see the video of the launch presentation. It annoys me quite a bit that we use the term HIE on one slide, where the correct term had been PHR, a Personal Health Record. Nevertheless, the presentation was received with a lot of love from the audience, perhaps partly because I almost cried at the end. It was just such a big moment for me. I've met people who tell me six months later they still remember me and the company from that pitch. That just reminds me of the fact that it's never about the slides.

Seed Forum had quite strict guidelines for the 6 minute pitch in their event. That's good in the sense that there's less pondering about what to tell. On the other hand, there's no universal pitch format that would suit each and every startup.

We've given some very informal presentations as well. For instance, the presentation on startup's point of view in a seminar discussing the current state of diabetes treatment (in Finnish, see also the video recording). It really feels strange to keep a presentation for 20 or 30 minutes, after getting used to shaving off seconds from an investor pitch to make it fit to the allotted time.

Our latest investor pitch is the 3 minute one from Startup Sauna demo day. I'm still not loving it. I don't think I'll ever be really happy with the pitch. There's always things you can do to enhance the visuals, the story is never straight enough. I feel we also need to cram in all the drama and death and such, whereas I'd much rather talk of my own problems that are closer to irritation and annoyance towards devices and apps that require me to copy information manually from one place to another, measurement by measurement. That's what we're really solving right now. But for a big stage, you need bigger drama, and we'll try to roll with that.


  1. Hi, just wanted to contest this statement:

    "As securing financing is perhaps the most important task of any startup, and as the pitch deck is perhaps the most crucial tool in that process."

    When investors look at startups, they want to understand your business.
    You need to be 100% focused on your business.
    A great business is what investors are going to invest in.
    - Fundraising and the deck are secondary.

  2. Hi Anonymous, many thanks for your feedback!

    Fully agreed, no investor makes their investment decision based on a pitch or a deck. The deck is just an important tool, required to get the investors know about the company in the first place.