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Looking at 320 pitch decks, here’s what science does best for us • Technology Flow

Compared to 2021, investors are spending 24% less time looking at pitch decks in 2022. On average, you have less than three minutes to convince them to meet you. Actually, for Dex fail For fundraising, investors give up in just 2 minutes and 13 seconds. It’s not much time to make a first impression, so you have to make it count.

It’s rare that I get to talk to someone whose pitch deck is as big as mine, but when I finally got to talk to the research lead at DocSend, how could I not? We take a deeper look at what the data tells us about what makes a pitch deck successful and what underperforms.

The biggest trend change in how investors view pitch decks is that investors are spending less time on overall slides, but where Time spent is changing.

“This year, we know investors are spending less time on pitch decks. This should come as no surprise: the number of links to pitch decks sent has increased and the time spent on the decks has decreased,” explains Justin Izzo, research leader at DocSend. “What’s surprising to me is that we know that the product and business model aspects of Decks are really what investors like to lean on, especially for early-stage companies. But investors have almost halved the amount of time they spend on these segments at the pre-seed level. Investors are still looking at these segments, but they’re doing it faster than ever. So entrepreneurs need to think deeply about their business, but communicate succinctly.

One of the biggest changes is that investors are spending more time on what Docsend describes as the purpose of the startup slide — the “why you’re doing it” part of the story.

“Founders really need to think deeply about their business, but communicate succinctly,” laughs Izzo, “I call it ‘forced brevity.’ It’s not easy to do, mind you, but founders should strive for it.”


The timeline for fundraising varies. This year, 25% of startups scaled within six weeks; increased by 58% within 12 weeks; 70% increase in less than 18 weeks; 90% increase within 24 weeks. Last year the speed was slightly reduced. Graph credit: Docsend.

The third-longest-viewed section is the company purpose section (after the product and business model sections), but Izzo points out that this section is usually only a very small part of the slide deck, often just a line or two of text on. A slip or two on deck.

“Usually it’s a one-sentence, balanced statement of what the company is about. We usually see it on the front of the deck, often on the intro slide. What surprised me when I first started looking at our latest dataset was that over the last couple of years, it’s kind of averaged out in terms of viewing times,” Izzo said. “This year, it’s really picked up, and investors are using this segment as a kind of gatekeeper. They want to know at a glance if this company has a reason to exist before moving on to the rest of the deck.

That makes a lot of sense; A business benefit statement is often framed as “Venmo for fundraising” or “Transform customer experiences with human-centric AI” or “Issue-tracking SaaS for physical product developers.” Incidentally, they are all real examples from our Pitch Deck Teardown series. The great thing is that investors can use those statements to see if an investment fits well with their investment thesis. If you’re not invested in SaaS, or if you don’t care about fintech, or can’t give a crap about customer support — it filters out too quickly to give a startup team an unnecessary “no”. To go deeper on product, team or market size.

“Founders can communicate vision and specificity, but what their company does, in a compelling way. Because if you can do that, you know, you’re hooking investors, you’re showing that this thesis is good enough, and then preparing investors to read the rest of their story, you know,” Izzo said. “And you know, it’s tricky to do it in a sentence, a sentence and a half or something like that. But we see it as important for early-stage entrepreneurs.

Slides in successful and unsuccessful decks

The Docsend team analyzed 320 decks and looked at which slides were in each. The only slide team available in both successful and unsuccessful 100% decks, but from there, things vary quite a bit.

unsuccessful decks

Successful decks. Graph credit: Docsend.

The most interesting difference between successful and unsuccessful decks is the missing slides; I’m surprised that only a quarter of startup decks have financials (trust me on this one, you really need an operating plan), but none of the failed decks have financials.

successful decks

Slides in unsuccessful decks. Graph credit: Docsend.

The other big difference is the competition slides; All decks should have an overview that covers the competitive landscape.

“The first thing that’s often missing is the competition slide. Founders often don’t think to include it, or when they do, they use it as a not-so-subtle indicator that there’s no competition,” Izzo laughs. Define.”

The DocSend team has created a fundraising playbook for different types of fundraising comparing the changes from 2021 to 2022 and a “State of the Union” report, which makes for a fascinating in-depth read to inform how you’re looking at your fundraising process.

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