Whether your startup is at the seed, Series A, or Series C, fundraising with a pitch deck is a task no entrepreneur should take lightly. Seemingly everybody in Silicon Valley has a set of fundraising best practices for pitch decks (we broke down a few pitch deck examples as well). When compared with each other, however, these pitch deck best practices seem to clash.
Some investors advise beginning your pitch deck with the problem you’re solving and how you’re solving it; others advise beginning your deck with a team page. Some investors encourage emphasizing your product in your pitch deck, while other investors warn of over-focusing your pitch deck on your product. Without conclusive evidence to indicate whether a given fundraising strategy is working, subjective fundraising best practices can serve as a disservice to your pitch deck, rather than a service. (If you want to know how your pitch deck stacks up try our free Pitch Deck Analyzer tool).
Keep your fundraising on track
To make matters even more challenging, getting a vague response or no response to your pitch deck is as commonplace as it is frustrating. Getting to a quick no is far better than getting a slow no, and getting a slow yes is fine, but only if you’re on track.
How do you know whether you’re on track? That’s where actively tracking investor engagement with your pitch deck becomes essential. Do not rely solely on investors’ words to inform your understanding of whether your startup will get funded—you’ll spend much of your fundraising period in an abyss of uncertainty. It’s more important than ever to actively track pitch deck engagement, and to apply resulting insights to optimize your pitch deck and prioritize investor communication.
In this guide, we’ll be showing you how to use DocSend to do just that. Feel free to get started with DocSend and follow along!
Step One: Upload Your Pitch Deck into DocSend
Whether you’re still iterating on a draft of your pitch deck or you’ve got what you consider to be your final draft, you’ll want to kick things off by uploading your deck in DocSend and installing either the DocSend for Gmail plugin or DocSend for Outlook plugin.
Once you’ve uploaded your document, you can adjust the name and other document attributes as necessary until it’s presentation-ready.
Step Two: Send Your Pitch Deck as a DocSend Link
You’ll probably send your deck to a few dozen investors—you’ll want to use the Gmail or Outlook plugin you just installed to send out your pitch deck, since you’ll want to use unique links each time you send out your pitch deck. Unique links will ensure that you can monitor activity and toggle access on an investor-by-investor basis.
When creating a link to your pitch deck in DocSend, you can specify the appropriate Account Name (in this case, the name of the venture capital firm to which you’ll be sending this deck), and can select from an array of security parameters as needed. The security parameters you select will be applied to the pitch deck on a link-by-link basis — so (for example) you can gate, password protect, set a link expiration date, and even require viewer verification for some investors, while you enable downloading and ungating for others.
In general, disabling the download option when creating a link to your pitch deck is a good idea, unless security and investor engagement insights are not priorities for you and your team. If an investor asks you to enable the downloading option, you can always either create a new link or edit the existing link accordingly.
To optimize the pitch deck engagement data that results from sharing your pitch deck with investors, you should create one link per account.
Step Three: Invite Advisors as Admin Guests
By accessing the User Settings tab and selecting “Add Users”, you can invite any and all advisors as admin guests. This way, they will automatically have access to the stats and materials they need to best advise you, and you won’t need to consistently share access or send update summary emails.
If the time comes to remove an advisor, you can click here to learn how to remove (and, if necessary, reactivate!) an admin guest.
Step Four: Track Engagement, and Iterate in Response
Once you send out your pitch decks with the links you’ve created, you’ll be able to see which investors/VC firms have been engaging with your pitch deck—and where, within your deck, investors have spent their time.
This information is helpful for a number of apparent reasons. For one thing, you can use engagement data to prioritize investor outreach during your fundraising process. After all, if an investor is repeatedly accessing your pitch deck and sharing it with his or her colleagues, that investor’s almost definitely more interested than another investor who never opened your deck.
It’s important to note that you can also use investor engagement data to optimize your pitch deck for future engagement. Take a look at places in your deck where viewers are bouncing, as well as places where users are spending more time or less time. With our guide “What We Learned from 200 Startups Who Raised $360M”, you can cross-check these areas with quantitatively-backed best practices in fundraising.
Step Five: Version Control with DocSend
If you do ultimately decide to make changes to your deck, be sure to update your deck in DocSend. Every link you’ve sent will be automatically updated—no need to send an apologetic email with an updated version of your pitch deck.
You’ll then have access to real-time quantifiable indications of whether a new version of your deck is outperforming the current version of your deck.
You’ll then be able to identify which investors viewed the original version of the deck and which didn’t, to guide your follow-up process regarding any updates. On a grander scale, you can use this data to prioritize investor conversations you pursue, by using pitch deck engagement as a proxy for interest.
Step Six: Turn Off Access for Investors Who Say No
Any startup founder will tell you that hearing “no” from investors is more common than hearing “yes”. How you respond to “no” can define your fundraising success, so it’s important to have an easily implementable response.
Part of that response can and should involve DocSend—when you hear a “no” from a venture capitalist, you can simply disable their link. All other links will stay fully functional—only investors with disabled links will lose access to your pitch deck.
To disable a link, click the toggle located near the link settings—this will immediately remove viewing access to all recipients. You can also delete a link by accessing the link settings, which will delete all associated visitor data. Since deleted links remove viewing data and are unretrievable, I recommend disabling content instead of deleting whenever possible.
Step Seven: Respond to (and Scale) Investor Interest with DocSend’s Spaces
If you have a meeting with an investor and he or she asks for additional info, create a Space and upload all the relevant assets in it. Relevant assets can include Excel spreadsheets, web links, additional decks, and any other files you have to share. You can then customize the Space for that specific investor, to give he or she a personalized viewing experience.
If interest ultimately wanes, you can turn off access to a Space similar to the way you can turn off access to a DocSend link. But if interest results in a successful round of fundraising, you can (and should) celebrate!
If you get multiple indications of interest from different VCs, you can duplicate the Space you’ve created. By creating a new Space for each interested VC firm, you’ll be able to turn off access to requested materials for any investors that don’t ultimately pan out for your business.
Plus, you’ll be able to personalize the content you provide each VC firm. If you provide all VC firms with additional information one VC firm requests, you’ll cause them to ask questions they wouldn’t have otherwise asked. (You don’t want to do that!)
Hopefully this guide helps you ace the fundraising process. For now, your free trial of DocSend awaits! Feel free to let us know below if you have any questions in the comments below; you can reach out to our support team by clicking here.