Pointless Pitchdecks by Szymon Janiak


The post was originally published in Polish on Szymon’s LinkedIn profile. Szymon kindly agreed to republish what we think is of great value to our readers.

Szymon Janiak, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Czysta3.VC

Startups’ pitchdecks are often pointless. In theory, preparing one seems extremely easy today – there are already hundreds of great guides on this subject. What’s more, there are examples, advisors who will be happy to support authors, other startups’ CEOs sharing knowledge, and even ready-made patterns to fill. Near perfect is the one created by the famous Sequoia fund, with almost 3 million views only on Slideshare. So if all you need is a Google search and some time for research, why do we still get presentations made on the knee, which are pitchdecks only by name?

Whenever I read a document like this, I wonder if the author simply did not want to or lacked the competence to do it properly. Regardless of the answer, if someone cannot attract an investor to their startup or doesn’t take it seriously, there is a chance that they will approach customers in the same way. The effect is the end of the adventure and no conversations unless there was something extremely intriguing in the deck.

Example: I got a deck from the MarTech area – a sector that I managed to get to know well, but after reading it, I hadn’t the slightest idea what the author meant. It wasn’t about whether the idea was good or bad – it wasn’t clear to me what the idea was, and it’s a phenomenon that comes up all too often. Terra incognita. Due to the attractive vertical begging for innovations, I decided to ask email the founder and ask – why they presented it in such a general form. They answered that they decided it was enough – they would add the rest at the meeting. And this is the root cause of all this embarrassment – the a priori assumption that there will be a conversation, which is fundamentally wrong. The scheme works like this: we analyze thousands of companies a year, and based on the deck we choose those where a fund representative will talk to the founders. If the presentation does not interest us or is incomprehensible – we reject the company and thus all requests for a meeting. We can’t devote time to everyone, even for a question or two, because the VC team usually consists of only a few people with a lot of responsibilities – sourcing is one of them. So it’s worth saying it again and bluntly:


Of course, there are exceptions: an extremely strong recommendation from the network, a founder from a portfolio with a new idea, a really groundbreaking solution – but still, the rule stands. If you want to obtain financing from VC in a regular way, you have to apply yourself to the deck. As a rule, there is only one chance to get attention, so you must use it wisely. If there is determination but questions multiply due to lack of experience – just look around. The startup ecosystem can really be helpful – it’s worth using.

The comment section has to add:

My opinion: At the root is the general contempt of tech people (at least at the beginning of their journey) for marketing and sales.

‘We’re busy enough. It’s so great that it will defend itself’ is a typical approach + ‘marketing is below us.’

Everything sells. Your email, your invoice, and your pitch deck too.

It would be interesting to see how it looks for first-time founders VS those with some experience in ‘operations’ and sales.

Tomasz Onyszko, CTO at Predica Group

Many people think that the trick is to have an idea, not necessarily to bring it on and implement it. When they have an idea that they think (heard) is simply great, they assume that it will defend itself. Because of this, they don’t go into details, such as planning, instead they ride on generalities. And the truth is that even the greatest, the most accurate idea will not come to life without its IMPLEMENTATION, i.e. preparation, of which the pitch deck is part.

Daria Lorenc, Learning and Development Manager at Jeronimo Martins Biedronka

I believe it’s much better to apply yourself to sales and listen to customers, which will allow you to receive money from customers instead. With the subscription model, your cash register is full for years 🙂

Gregory Brzeski, Founder & CEO at rootbox.com

I also get a lot of pitch decks, let’s say moderately prepared. Over time, I began to sense what was suitable and what was not. Natural filtration is something obvious, which is a pity, because perhaps a bit of inspiration, as you point out, can take the pitch ‘one level higher’.

Daniel Gawryluk, Owner & Head at Master Profit


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