Arguably the team is the most important factor in angel capital and venture capital investing, but the proper way to create a team slide seems to remain a mystery to many. For example, if you are one of those companies that puts the team slide up in the front of your deck, I have to ask why?
Every now and then I see a company with the team slide right up front and I have no idea what I am supposed to do with the information I’m seeing. Really! It’s just a bunch of people who have worked somewhere and maybe have some university degrees. What does that mean to me at the very front of a pitch deck?
Nothing – I don’t even know what the company does yet, so how am I supposed to know if these are the right guys to get it done?
The team slide should be found towards the back of the deck – usually in the last four or so slides.
Because your primary purpose in having the team slide in there is to show that you have the team with the expertise, connections and know-how to get the ambitious plan you’ve laid out in your deck executed. If the slide is the front, you can’t do that, because we don’t know what kind of expertise is needed yet.
Consider the team slide to be about proving that you can do it, and not that you have the coolest guys on your team who are Frisbee Ultimate Champions. (Unless your business has something to do with Frisbee Ultimate, of course) I have seen people use photos that are more fitting for a Facebook home page than a Venture Capital Pitch Deck and wonder what they are thinking.
Use your Full Names. This isn’t a casual affair – investors need to know who you are. I see a lot of decks with only first names listed. This tells the investors that the team members have no backgrounds and that they are not serious about the company. How are the investors going to be able to do research, or at least Google the team members without last names?
Use a Photo. Investors want to meet you after the pitch, or at social events and they want to know what you look like. Photos should be professional, close up head shots.
Include relevant work and university experience. Remember, this is not your full resume – there’s a place for that in the Due Diligence folders you set up for investors. In the deck you want to show the main experience that is relevant to your current company. If you’ve been in a venture backed company before, and even better, if you’ve been through some exits, then be sure to list that. If you have great industry connections, then don’t put that on the slide, but speak to it during the presentation.
Advisor Board/Board of Directors: This should usually be a separate slide. Don’t try to cram so many people onto one slide. Use two slides and spend the same amount of time on them when pitching that you would have if they had all been on one deck.
Other people in the company: If you have five or fewer, then include everyone, otherwise, just the founders and C-Level People.
Logos of companies people have worked for are sometimes effective at getting the message across without so many words. Add logos of companies and universities rather than spelling them out for an easily readable deck.
Completeness of team is important – if you’ve got technology, marketing, strategy and finance covered, that’s excellent – be sure to show all those roles as being filled. If you have a major role that is unfilled, you can show that you know this is your next position to fill by using a silhouette head in place of a person. This lets everyone know you’re recruiting and, who knows, you might get a lead from someone in the audience you’re pitching to!
On-Deck employees are fair game to include in your deck. If you have someone who has committed to joining your company once you’ve raised your funding – but in the meanwhile they’re working at their day-job, that’s great, go ahead and include them in the deck. Investors want to know who will be working at the company once their check clears.
The team slide is one of the most important and many companies blow it by not taking it seriously or understanding how to present their team at the right point in the deck and in the right way to lead investors to see that this is the team that can get it done.
Peter Adams is Executive Director of the Rockies Venture Club, Managing Director of the Rockies Venture Fund and teaches in the Colorado State University MBA Program. Peter is co-author of Venture Capital for Dummies, (John Wiley & Sons 2013) Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local book store.