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Make your Pitch Decks Personal

In the early stages of a startup, securing seed funding can feel like climbing a mountain. One of the most crucial tools you'll need is the pitch deck. You'll find no shortage of advice online and with advisors, but that, in fact, poses another problem. Decks are becoming all the same - and AI is making it even worse.

While there are tons of templates and guides out there, here’s a piece of advice from one founder to another: your pitch deck should be entirely your own, and maybe even a little imperfect. I was just reminded of this when I recently checked out a deck that had about 100 things "wrong" with it, but when you took the whole of it, it totally worked.

Just like a great presentation, there is no perfect way, so make sure that your deck is your own, more than trying to comply with every advisor's advice out there. You need to create an inspired document that conveys how and why you want to spend the 5 or 10 years of your life working on this big idea.

Why Authenticity Matters

An authentic pitch deck, crafted with genuine passion and personal touch, stands out in a sea of polished but generic presentations. Investors (especially professional firms) might see hundreds of decks, many of which look and sound the same. Because of all the advice on the Internet, they may even be ordered and titled in the same way!

When your deck reflects your unique voice and vision, it becomes memorable. This authenticity can show your deep commitment and enthusiasm for your project in a way that a cookie-cutter deck never could.

Embrace Your Quirkiness

Quirkiness doesn’t mean being unprofessional. It means showcasing the unique aspects of your personality and your startup’s culture. Maybe it’s a witty headline or an unconventional slide design. These elements capture attention and convey confidence, creativity, and scrappiness —traits that investors love.

Built with Conviction

Your pitch deck should look and feel like you built it yourself, with extreme conviction, almost like you are designing an argument. This doesn’t mean it has to be perfect; it just needs to resonate with your passion and dedication. When investors see that you’ve poured your heart into the presentation, they’re more likely to believe you’ll do the same with the business.

Don't be afraid to have a point of view. Ask yourself, "could someone disagree with this presentation?" If the answer is "not really," you may be playing it too safe. Have a point of view.

Do the Math

Investors love back-of-the-envelope math, and they will often challenge your assumptions directly during your presentation. For example, they might say, "Hey, in slide two, you said you had 5 customers, and in your business model, you said you had a $500 pricing, so why isn't your MRR $2,500?" Or, "Why would your runway be 18 months with this raise? It seems like you would run out of money in 11 because your gross margin is only..." You see what I mean - be prepared for the easy math that smart people love to do  - it often throws you off more than anything else.

The way the math applies to personalization? You have to do the math yourself, and have these figures at the ready, in your head, 100% down. Know how you're going to make money and why - and be prepared to back up every figure in your deck with personally-sourced, knowledgeable conviction. Be able to speak to the numbers in a normal, conversational way.

Love and Attention to Detail

Every slide should reflect your love and attention to your startup. Carefully select every word, image, and chart, but make sure they are uniquely you. Highlight your unique expertise in your field and demonstrate why you’re the right person to bring this vision to life. Showing your deep understanding can significantly boost investor confidence.

When I say deep understanding, I mean things you can't find online. You should know your industry not like a great industry consultant or an economist, but rather at a practitioner level, in a real problem-set type way. You should know exactly who your customers are, what makes them tick, and why they actually need your product.

Your pitch deck is more than just a presentation—it should show some soul and document why YOU think this is a great idea. Authenticity is your greatest asset. Use it to your advantage.