Nivi · December 28th, 2007
“I know plenty of VCs that behave the way I do and plenty that don’t.”
Summary: A deck can help you get a meeting but it can also get in the hands of the competition. Whether you send a deck depends on who wants the meeting most. If you want the meeting more than they do, provide what they want. If they want the meeting more than you do, provide what you want. Finally, keep your secrets secret.
In What should I send investors?, we suggested sending investors a deck that describes your business plan. A reader subsequently emailed us and asked:
“Do I really want my business plan floating out there in venture land? What if it gets to my competitors? Is it safe to send my deck to investors?”
First, focus on executing your idea so you can make it public instead of focusing on how to keep it private. Second…
There are pros and cons to sending a deck.
We can’t tell you whether you should send a deck. At times, we have sent decks and, at other times, we have avoided sending decks. There is no right answer but there are pros and cons that you can consider as you make your decision.
The pro is it might help you get a meeting.
The first con is it can lower the effectiveness of your electronic pitch. Sometimes less is more. If you’ve got a great elevator pitch and introduction, do you need to send a relatively long document filled with arguments that are better delivered in person?
The second con is…
Your deck can get in the hands of the competition.
In Spice Girls VC, Rich Skrenta writes:
“So one day a few years ago I’m sitting in a VC’s office having a chat. I had a few ideas rattling around in my head but the VC had his eyes on a then-current space which was hot. He tossed a business plan for one of the leading startups into my lap.
“Where’d you get this?” I asked.
“They gave it to me.”
“He went on to talk about how he wanted to launch a company into the space as well…”
Your deck probably won’t get in the hands of the competition, but you should assume it will.
An investor’s handwritten notes can also get in the hands of the competition. And if an “evil” investor cares enough about your company to email your deck to the competition, he cares enough about your company to schedule a meeting and take notes.
Send a deck if you want the meeting more than they do.
Whether you send a deck depends on who wants the meeting most. Use this simple test:
If you want the meeting more than they do, provide what they want.
If they want the meeting more than you do, provide what you want.
It all comes down to who has the most leverage—that’s it. And leverage comes from traction. Traction speaks louder than plans.
Keep confidential things confidential.
If you do send a deck, keep confidential things to yourself. In What should I send investors?, we wrote:
“Write “Proprietary and Confidential. Please do not distribute. Prepared for Blue Shirt Capital,” on the cover of your deck (some companies write it on every page). Investors are less likely to forward it if their name is on it. And ask any recipients, in writing, via email, to kindly not distribute the deck outside their firm.
“And if you must keep something absolutely confidential, don’t email it to investors and don’t mention it in person. Investors often look at several similar companies at once. Your plans probably won’t get to your competitors, but you should assume they will.”
Finally, you might want to try the private sharing feature on SlideShare. Please leave a comment if you do, we haven’t tried it yet.