What not to do in your pitch deck

I get about 1-2 pitch decks a day and it is a matter of great discipline to walk over all the slides and keep your attention span. So before I move on – please keep in mind that investors do not spend hours re-reading your deck. It is more like a one time fast-paced read to understand what you want to do, if it is going to fly, does it fulfill their investment hypothesis and if someone will buy this for $$$. And may be a re-check of a certain slide plus validating some numbers.

Now let’s define what is a pitch deck. You have an idea and have done research. You have a team of friends and/or colleagues who you trust and believe will lead this to success. I hope you also did market validation before quitting your job. Then you put this in 10 slides and include your business model, financial projections, roadmap, competitor landscape. The latter will be repeatedly revised afterwards and highly likely will steer your product in a new direction. So – this is the uncertainty part and investors know it.

Bottom line: make it clear what you want to do and why it should matter for a particular investor.

Now here comes the promised short list of things you should not do in your pitch deck:

  • DO NOT clutter your slides with tons of text and information. Sorry, I just get overwhelmed with different fonts and pics and all the things YOU consider important. You will spot if your slides are too informative if people start asking questions to which you have stated the answers earlier.
  • DO NOT identify huge market and reserve a cut of it while not establishing a link to why this market might belong to you one day.
  • DO NOT miss out what you will do with investors money and how much you need.
  • DO NOT forget your roadmap. This will usually make it clear for an investor if you are realistic about what you do.
  • DO NOT render your competitors impotent. Respect them.
  • DO NOT throw in the face of your investor answers like “You have not read this and that in my deck” when asked about things you apparently have mentioned somewhere. First, it is not polite, second, we do sometimes validate what you say, sometimes we just did not see. We are humans after all.

Looking forward to some more suggestions to add. Just drop me a line in the comments.

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See you soon!

First Techstars Demo Day in Berlin

The first Techstars demo day in Berlin was something! I know it is Sunday, I will be quick I promise. 🙂

Techstars Demo Day 2015

Hosted in Hebbel-Theater in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district Jens Lapinski and his team presented their first batch of startups. The gorgeous Art Nouveau styled building was built in 1907/1908 and was the early and unique work of the famous architect Oskar Kaufmann. It was the breakthrough that shot him to fame. Let’s wish the same to the first Techstars batch!

The startups pitched in 2 batches of 5 and the presentations all looked super well done – for me this means crisp, elaborated and well timed. Founders walked to the stage accompanied by the thundering tunes of charging music pieces and presented with a sleek looking deck of slides outlining market opportunities, user growth, expansion plans. The best part though is that at least 2 of the companies have secured funding during the programme – 1x Seed and 1x Series A. You could feel that some founders are still fundraising and pretty nervous. Yet, I am confident that more news is coming soon.  I have seen the products of these companies 3 months ago and am amazed by the progress they have achieved.

Jens has closed the demo session with some kind words to all involved but I would like to share one of his slides summarising the Techstars values.

Techstars principles


Powerful message – nothing to add!

That was not all though. The event moved on in the Factory Berlin and continued with networking first and last but not least – an afterparty .

It was a well spent day 🙂

Good luck to all teams, and keep sending me updates. Looking forward to hear from you!

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Have a great rest of the weekend.

A bit about Stark Founders – my new endeavour

Many people ask me that question. And it always takes me quite some time to explain. The one liners I have compiled with time still cause puzzled faces or the common polite nodding. Let me try again then. And this time I will take all the time in the world for this.

As you may now in the past I have held positions at KPMG, 3M, Rocket Internet, and hey even did some work for Google (more on LinkedIn). That being said in 15 years I got to know a total of 10 businesses varying in size from startup to Fortune500.

The “multitasking machine” I am, I never really limited my activities to just my corporate career. In the last 10 years actively engaged with startups as a mentor, besides that I co-founded some. To be truly successful in startups you need to dedicate fully and this obviously could not happen with a demanding full time job during the day.

Luckily my last job was with Rocket Internet which in its core is a gigantic startup factory. Having had the chance to build their technology hub in Portugal exposed me on a daily basis to tenths of high-growth ventures. In the end it was like a dream come true as I was working in an area I am really passionate about and Rocket was paying me to do it.

After 3 years at Rocket and its successful IPO it was time to do something of my own. I loved what I was doing before so why not keep doing it. This is how Stark Founders was born. I did not want to build the next incubator, accelerator or raise a fund but rather build 1 or 2 companies a year either from my own pool of ideas, or together with a founding team. And to be honest this very simple concept seem to work very well. More on successes in later posts.

Before I tell you what can we do for entrepreneurs, let me pinpoint what do we stand for:

People, Culture and Ideas

Simply said if you convince us that you are a true believer in what you do, have the capacity to make it happen and your motivation stems from the desire to make the world a better place, you are welcome to join us.

Why do we think we are special? First, we really work with entrepreneurs, shoulder to shoulder. This is very different from just providing you with a desk and free perks. We work on your business plan, and by work we mean challenge it daily until it becomes bullet proof. We help you build your MVP, platform and infrastructure, we help you set up your marketing, email, social media campaigns. We even go out with you and do the first sales together. Not to mention the many hires and face-to-face meets with experts we bring in to help you make things work. Second, we are good at all these areas because we have a partner network of proven businesses that support us professionally in every single area. You venture will be treated as if our own e.g. your product won’t be developed by interns but from a team of experienced developers with strong leader and substantial track record.

All this comes in strong contrast with existing portfolio models in incubators and other structures. We go by the motto less is more and stay focused, do one company really well.

This is all for today. Hope the read was not too long, feel free to share your opinion and comment.