If you have a strong traction slide, nothing else about your pitch deck matters
It is a very common accepted wisdom that you need between 10 and 20 slides to tell the story of your startup. However, many founders don’t seem to realize that not all slides are the same. Some slides carry more weight than others – and three of them are absolutely crucial. Today I’m going to show you why those three slides are so important.
The way to use this article is to think about which of these attributes you have in your startup to organize your pitch deck. Number 1 in this list, for example, is traction. If you have great traction, that should probably be the first slide in your deck. If your traction is flat (ie not growing or even shrinking), bad or non-existent – maybe don’t mark that and instead think about how else you can tell your story.
1 — Traction is king
Up and to the right. Which makes sense. Up and to the left would be time travel, and if you can do that, you’ll have an even more valuable business than you thought.
Your traction slide is, by a significant margin, your trump card. If you show a huge amount of income and rapid growth, all other sins are forgiven.
It doesn’t matter if you have an inexperienced team, a bad product or a questionable market. If you can show that money is coming in and growing by 9% or more weekly, you are raising money.
There is a hierarchy in terms of what type of traction helps:
- Gain. If you’re cash positive and growing fast, you probably don’t even need venture capital, but if raising cash helps you grow even faster, you’re in a great place.
- ARR. If your annual recurring revenue is growing fast, you’re in luck. Recurring revenue and SaaS dynamics mean you’re on to something.
- Active users. Growing your user base exponentially without necessarily knowing how to monetize it is still an impressive feat. If you can show that you can build a huge, sticky audience, you can probably find a way to monetize that later.
- Registrations. If you see massive growth in signups for your product or service, but they aren’t monetizing or sticking around, that still has value — although your traction slide should be accompanied by a solid “How’s this going to make money?” to shove.