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Rethink the Slides

Let’s be honest, most pitch decks suck and don’t get investors excited about the company or the founders behind the business. Slides can’t highlight the founders and at an early stage, you bet on people. Not only does the personality or energy of the founder not come across but the general business idea and strategy can fall flat and that can hurt the founders potential on fundraising as well as force an investor to miss an opportunity.

Part of the challenge is founders struggle to tell their story in a clear and concise way. They might know their business but often don’t sell it the right way so pushing the pitch into a deck makes it even more challenging.

Slides can only do so much and given there is no standard template you see a far range of decks that are all over the place.

So why am I telling you this and what is the potential solution?

The solution is to kick off your first pitch with a short video explaining the story and how you got here. Keep it under two minutes, let your personalities shine and make the ask. The video keeps you engaged, lets you feel the founder out and voice is more effective than reading a deck. All of this allows to break through the clutter, save time for the investor and get them to ask for more information or a meeting.

Earlier this year I helped co-found a company called Mekl through my early stage investment platform C2 Ventures. Romet and Martin the other co-founders who star in the story created a video as they were the finalist for a startup competition and needed to submit a video for their pitch at this conference. But then we discussed why not flip this video into a fundraise pitch as we are about to raise seed money for Mekl. After some editing, we had something that was ready to send to other investors and the response and success rate was way higher than I’ve seen compared to other companies. This could be for a number of reasons such as the idea, the likeability of the founders or maybe creating just enough differentiation from other pitches to get the first meeting or lock down the second.

I’ve received so much positive feedback from the video from other investors it made me want to write this post and share the learnings so maybe other startups consider the same format

“Even though Martin and I have spent our careers in data and startups, we are young and this is our first real rodeo as founders. So we figured video is the best medium to show our expertise, build trust and show the investors who we really are. It took us a day to film and put together and we have received great feedback! You can convey a lot of information in 2 min vs. risking someone spending 5–10 min on your deck, misinterpreting it and missing your chance to meet them.

As a couple of bootstrapping founders, we used the tools that we had. Two phones (different angles makes your video look more professional, search in youtube “how to film an interview”), a $5 video recording app (the default app limits quality) a $15 microphone (there’s a world of difference between a dedicated mic vs phone mic) and a free trial in the most basic video editing tool to put it together. Luckily Martin is also a talented musician and he made our background music for the video. If you don’t have such a privilege of making your own feel free to use ours here or there are plenty of websites that have free music as long as you give credits. You should definitely have music, as it will help to grab the attention of the viewers!

There’s also additional business value for recording the video, as you are forced to distill your core message into a short period of time and you get to witness yourself how you talk about the company. As a founder, you have to be ready to pitch your company in a couple of minutes and it’s not always easy to do so, especially in the beginning where a lot of things change and evolve really quickly. Looking at our video now, there’s a lot we would change already but as a bootstrapping founder you need to follow the 80–20 rule, as time is your enemy!”

- Romet Kallas, Co-Founder @ Mekl”

Find the video and the Mekl story here and hope you get a chance to meet the guys, partner and our round is still open :)