2020 DocSend Startup Index: Pitch Deck Interest

Tracking pitch deck interest and engagement for the startup community.

We know there’s currently a lot of uncertainty in the startup community right now, especially among founders who are currently fundraising, or are looking to fundraise in the coming months. To help gauge VC appetite for pitch decks, we’ve begun tracking three key metrics using the 2020 DocSend Startup Index.

We’re looking at the amount of pitch decks potential investors are reviewing, how long they’re spending reading those decks, and how many pitch decks founders are sending out. We’ve created interactive charts for each of these metrics below, and will be providing weekly analysis around what these mean for the current fundraising landscape. However, some VCs will be more active than others based on their current portfolio and areas of investment. If you want to know if a specific VC is currently reviewing and making deals, check out our Active VC List.

Pitch Deck Interest

Our main pitch deck interest metric looks at the average number of pitch deck interactions for each founder happening on our platform right now. We will track this metric over time to show the health of current fundraising activity.

Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent

We’re measuring the average time spent per pitch deck by potential investors. This offers a look at how long VCs are spending reviewing deals. As they get busy, the time spent tends to go down. We expect to see a lot of fluctuation in this number over the coming weeks.

Pitch Deck Interest: Founder Links Created

We’re measuring how many links each founder is creating. Lots of founder activity means lots of decks being sent out. The less links created, the less pitch decks investors are receiving.

For weekly updates on these metrics, subscribe to the Startup Index Newsletter.

 

What it Means

*Analysis updated every Monday for the previous week

Updated: September 28, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -1.06%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +3.58%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -2.99%

Our data from last week shows that investor interest slightly declined and remains 31.69% higher than the same week in 2019. The average time spent by potential investors reading per pitch deck increased by 2.14 seconds. This doesn’t seem like much time, but it could mean that investors reviewed pitch decks they were more interested in than the prior week. The average number of pitch deck links created by founders slightly declined and that could be a trend of the numbers normalizing for to 2019 levels. As we did with our Q2 Pitch Deck Interest metrics, we will be releasing our Q3 review next week. Subscribe to DocSend’s Startup Index newsletter to get the analysis.

Updated: September 21, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +8%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -2.46%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: 0%

Based on last week’s Pitch Deck Interest metrics, we saw that investor interest spiked up 8%, whereas it dropped 8.44% during the same week in 2019. We saw a four-week upward trend in last year’s data starting at the beginning of Q4, so we expect investor interest to remain high for the coming weeks. With this spike in interest, we saw a slight decline in investor time spent reading per pitch deck, which continues the overall downward trend starting at the beginning of Q2. The average length of time spent by VCs reading each pitch deck historically remains low during Q4 and founders should keep this in mind when creating their decks. For the first time in our recorded data during 2020, founders did not increase or decrease their average number of pitch deck links created. This is a notable moment as it is the first time since May 24th that we recorded the number of founder links created to be below the 2019 number. It’s expected that this number will rise during Q4, but as of last week, it has normalized back to 2019 levels. Are founders losing steam sending their pitch decks to investors? Check back next week to see how how the health of the fundraising marketplace changes.

Updated: September 14, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -6.42%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -1.06%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +4.21%

Based on our recorded data from last week, investor interest in pitch decks has continued its 3-week decline towards 2019 levels. With this drop in interest, there is also a slight decrease in the length of time investors are spending reading pitch decks. Investors are spending an average of 16.12% less time reading pitch decks now versus the same week in 2019. The amount of time VCs are spending per deck is still declining, meaning that they’re actively looking at each deal, they’re just not spending too much time pouring over the details. Founders have slowed down sending out pitch decks compared to the high Q3 average. Last week’s number of pitch deck links founders created went up at a higher rate than it did in the same week of 2019. The fundraising marketplace activity typically increases this week going to mid-Q4, so founders should be sending their decks now to get ahead of the fundraising rush.

If you’re raising your Seed round or investing, RSVP to our webinar on Thursday with DocSend’s CEO, Russ Heddleston, where he’ll share new data and actionable insights on what it takes to raise Seed funding: Register and get our new report here.

Updated: September 7, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -4.59%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -5.07%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -4.46%

Our data shows that investor interest in pitch decks has dropped 24.56% over the past three weeks to its lowest recorded number since the end of May. This breaks the upward trend line we’ve seen so far in Q3, yet remains 41.67% higher than the same week in 2019. If investor interest continues to drop in the coming weeks, founders should not be worried, as it would mean a market correction back to historical levels. The amount of time investors spend reading pitch decks went down last week, after a slight uptick the week before. Since the beginning of July, investors have spent, on average, less than 3 minutes reading each pitch deck. This indicates that investors are processing pitch decks faster this quarter than any quarter we’ve recorded starting in Q1 2018. With that, the number of pitch deck links created last week by founders continues the downward trend over the past month and is only slightly above 2019 levels. The health of the fundraising marketplace is still very good, despite drops in the metrics we track. Investor demand is high, time spent reading pitch decks is low (think processing time), and supply is still higher than the same week in 2019.

Updated: August 31, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -3.45%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +5.4%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -10.52%

Investor interest in pitch decks remains high this quarter despite a slight drop last week. The trend line for investor interest has been gradually increasing over the past few weeks and, notably, last week’s interest number is up +54.33% compared to the same week in 2019.

As we predicted in our update last week, the average time spent reading decks by potential investors has increased to nearly 3 minutes per deck. This is a likely response to two consecutive weeks of drops in the average number of pitch deck links created by founders. With fewer decks in circulation, investors have more time to read each one in more detail. Having another double-digit decrease in the number of links being created by founders feels significant after we hit the record high two weeks ago, but it can be seen as the supply side adjusting back to historical levels for this time of year. Even with this correction, founder links created remains +14.29% higher than the same week in 2019. We’ve traditionally seen fundraising marketplace activity increase this week through late October. So, if founders want to get free, data-driven feedback on their pitch and warm intros to lead early-stage investors, based on our quality bar and VC criteria, they can apply to the DocSend Fundraising Network.

Updated: August 24, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +5.18%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -2.83%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -11.75%

With the surge in Founder Links Created two weeks ago, investor interest with pitch decks last week has slightly increased to 2.53% above this quarter’s average number of interactions. The recent drops in VC interest are still on an upward trajectory (last week was 19.3, before that 19, before that 18.8). So, we’re still seeing an overall upward trend in VC interest moving into fall.

Coupling this with last week’s drop in average time spent reading per pitch deck to 2.75 minutes, it could mean that investors are having to skim pitch decks vs reading them in more detail. This gradual decline in time spent reading has continued since mid-July when we started seeing an average increase in links created by founders. The number of links created last week dropped from the previous week’s record high. This could mean that we’ll see a rise in the time spent reading pitch decks next week, as investors will have fewer to process. Founders are still very active for the season and as Caitlin Bolnick of OpenView said in our Q&A last week, “You add all this together and it’s an unprecedented environment, but also, there’s no better time to raise.”

Updated: August 17, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -4.45%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +0.35%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +26.26%

Since last week, we recorded a slight drop of 4.45% in investor interest with the score hovering between a score 19-20 over the past 3 weeks. This means investors have maintained their appetite for reviewing pitch decks throughout the summer season. The time spent reading pitch decks last week remains low for 2020 and sits at 19.9% lower compared to the same week in 2019. The number of pitch deck links created by founders had the second-biggest jump of the year last week with a 26.26% increase from the previous week. We’ve normally seen the start of a plateau this week in Q3, but it seems the fundraising market activity this year isn’t abiding by past trends. Founders spending more time on their laptops vs traveling, at events, and in-person meetings could be contributing to this huge increase in links created.

Updated: August 10, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +6.31%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -3.45%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -13.81%

This time of year is traditionally the “slow season” for investors and founders in the fundraising marketplace. Based on last week’s data, we’re seeing that investor interest (interactions with pitch decks) has stayed higher than the previous two years of activity in Q3. The time spent reading each deck continues to trend downward from normal levels of above 3.25 minutes we saw in Q1 and is 21% down from this same week in 2019. The amount of links created has dropped to roughly the same number as of July 20th and remains high for the season. These metrics are “not normal” for this time of year, but, as we know, most things aren’t normal this year. We expect the fundraising market activity to remain high as we continue through August, so now is the time to be fundraising.

Updated: August 3, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -7.32%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +0.69%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +0.64%

We’re seeing that investor interest in pitch decks (read: demand) dropped in the past week to just above the level we recorded on July 20th. This is still much higher than the historical market activity. With investors viewing and engaging with more decks on average this summer, their time spent reading those decks has stayed slightly below 3 minutes per deck. On the supply side of the fundraising marketplace, the number of links founders created last week to share their pitch decks hit an all-time high for 2020. This means that founders are very actively seeking funding and investors are keeping up. Here are Russ Heddleston’s thoughts on what Q2 fundraising data tell us about the rest of 2020.

Updated: July 27, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +9.04%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -4.69%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +16.14%

Since last week, we’ve seen investor interest climbing back up towards the record high we reported two weeks ago. This level of interest is 44% higher than the same week in 2019 and 31% higher than this week in 2018. As investors are showing higher interest this week, their average time spent reading decks continues to trend downward. Founders are keeping investors busy with a 30% jump in links created per deck this week vs. the same week in 2019. With the significant increase in links created, the decline in time spent reading, and an increase in investor interest, this summer continues to be more active than the traditional summer slump. For analysis on Q2’s Pitch Deck Interest Metrics, read our review.

Updated: July 20, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -12.77%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +9.76%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +0.15%

While we’re seeing a small correction in the amount of VC interest, we’re still seeing more interest than this week in both 2019 and 2018. This correction can also be seen in the rebound in time spent per deck. We’re still below three minutes, which means VCs are still reviewing deals at pace, but this rebound might mean a settling of the fundraising marketplace for the summer. But based on the amount of activity from founders we don’t expect VC interest to drop much, as we’re also still experiencing higher than normal founder activity. As summer is traditionally slow, this could be what slow looks like for the next few months.

Updated: July 13, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +8.41%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -11.37%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +3.05%

We’re looking at another record-breaking week for pitch deck interest from VCs. But all that shopping is coming at a cost. The time spent per deck has dropped far below three minutes. If you’re looking to fundraise right now we recommend you keep the information in your deck concise. Remember, the goal of your deck is just to get you the meeting. You can always give your potential investor more information when you meet. The amount of links founder are creating has been fairly steady over the last few weeks, which is very much in line with the end of Q2 every year. However, traditionally we also see a drop off in founder activity in July. That also hasn’t happened this year. With both founders and VCs unseasonably active we should continue to see above-average activity all summer.

Updated: July 6, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +3.46%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -3.08%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -2.36%

Traditionally this week in fundraising marks the steep descent in interest during the summer months. With VCs officially coming back online in September. However, as we’ve seen this year is anything but traditional. We think it’s safe to say that this is no longer just displaced interest from the steep drop earlier this year. The shift in the world economy plus all of the issues the pandemic has wrought has opened up new interest from VCs. Some of the biggest companies in the world today were borne out of the last financial crisis. It’s clear that new companies are being created to address the current problems society is facing, and VCs are ready and willing to invest.

Updated: June 29, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -8.7%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +1.3%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +4.2%

While VC interest dropped from its record high last week, it’s still 10.5% above this week in 2018 and 33.3% above this week in 2019. We could finally be seeing the summer slowdown, but it looks like founders are becoming more active, so we’ll likely see sustained VC interest unless we reach a point where the fundraising market has stabilized. Another metric that leads us to believe that things are settling down is the amount of time spent per deck. It’s slowly creeping back up. The average is typically 3.5 minutes, but we’ve seen VCs rushing to get through decks recently as they actively look for deals.

Updated: June 22, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +3.5%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +1.6%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -4.0%

The recent founder activity has to lead to a record high week for VC interest. The unseasonably high numbers look like we’re not only going to buck the summer trend, it also seems like the brief break we saw in March for fundraising means VCs are now actively looking to deploy money. The amount of links created by founders has dropped once again, leading us to believe that there may be more demand than there is supply right now. That’s great for valuations as founders are likely to be in a good place to negotiate terms (our DocSend Startup Index: COVID-19 Impact Report showed that 64% of founders were not changing their target valuations). Time spent is still hovering around the three-minute mark, which means a tight pitch deck is still your best bet.

Updated: June 15, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +4.1%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -3.2%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -14.3%

Last week’s extra supply of pitch decks has once again created an increased VC interest. In fact, VC interest is the second-highest it’s been in the last two years. It’s just 2% down from the all-time high from the beginning of 2018. Last week also marks the first time we’ve seen the average amount of time spent per pitch deck go below 3 minutes. While founders have taken advantage of the increased interest from VCs in the last few weeks, it seems last week they took a break. However, the amount of links being created is still 20% higher than in March when the implications of the pandemic began to hit. The amount of links created is also 15% higher than it was this time last year, and nearly 28% higher than this time in 2018. Read More...

Updated: June 8, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +4.3%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -2.2%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +19.2%

VC interest is bucking the seasonal trend and continuing to rise. In fact, it’s just 3% under the 2020 high which we achieved the week of April 20th. What’s even more interesting is the jump we see in the number of links being created by founders. It’s actually the highest it’s been in the last two years. If the fundraising market is working, and we don’t have too much supply, we should see demand (VC interest) rise to meet the increased supply over the coming weeks. We’re also continuing to see the amount of time spent on pitch decks decreasing. This means you need to have a very tight pitch that can be understood in just three minutes.

Updated: June 1, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -5.6%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -0.6%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +6.7%

While VC interest seems to have declined a bit, we’re still seeing a lot of activity from founders. It looks like the decline in the fundraising marketplace earlier this year is going to drive an unseasonably active summer. The amount of time VCs are spending per deck is still declining, meaning that they’re actively looking at each deal, they’re just not spending too much time pouring over the details. Remember, the goal of your pitch deck is to get you the meeting. Don’t put every detail about your business in the deck, put just enough to get you in the (Zoom) room.

Updated: May 26, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +2.6%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -0.6%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -14.3%

While Memorial Day weekend seemed to affect founders (links sent was down over 14%0, it seems VCs spent their downtime reading decks. Overall pitch deck interest was up another 2.6%, which puts it up 30% YoY. It also means that interest is continuing to buck the seasonal downward trend we would expect to see as we move into summer. The amount of time spent reading each pitch deck also went down slightly as VCs read through more decks. With founders taking a break last week we might see a drop in VC interest as they will have fewer decks in their pipeline to read, but expect it to remain high.

Updated: May 18, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -1.5%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -1.9%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +8.2%

Investor interest dropped slightly this week, but it’s still higher than in any week in 2019. We may be seeing an indicator that the fundraising market is going to begin to adhere to its seasonal pattern, however, the number of links created by founders rose once again this week. If interest rises to meet it, we’re going to see another spike next week. Last week was the second-highest week for founder activity in 2020. The main trend that founders need to be aware of is the amount of time spent per pitch deck. Earlier this year we found that VCs spent around 3:23 on successful pitch deck, meaning you had less than three and a half minutes to get everything across in your send ahead deck. That’s not a lot of time to describe your entire business. We’re now seeing that VCs are spending just over three minutes on a deck. While the loss of 20 seconds doesn’t seem significant, that’s nearly 10% of the overall time spent on a deck. Founders need to make sure their decks contain the right information without anything superfluous.

Updated: May 11, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +8.4%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -4%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +5.5%

Investor interest is continuing on at a high rate, despite this time of year traditionally seeing a drop. In fact, interest is 11% higher than this week in 2018 and 23% higher than this week in 2019. The number of links created by founders has also jumped again, meaning founders are also bucking the seasonal trend. This is the fourth week in a row that we’ve seen the amount of time spent per deck drop. While it’s still within the normal range, it likely means VCs are reading more decks and spending less time on each than they typically would.

Updated: May 4, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: -10%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -5%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +1%

While interest came down again last week, it’s still historically high. Overall interest is up 10% YoY and it looks likely to maintain that bump is founders remain active. And while they didn’t bounce back much this week, and an increase of 1% will likely lead to a small resurgence of VC interest next week. What’s interesting is that the amount of time VCs are spending on decks is down 5%. As shelter-in-place orders are lifted and people begin to get out of their houses, we could see a change in this number.

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +14%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -1%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -11%

Last week brought us another spike in VC interest. In fact, investor interest was the second-highest it’s been since the beginning of 2018. But that interest has peaked in a week where we watched the number of links being created by founders drop another 11 percent. Links created is a leading indicator of founder interest, so with the spike last week in links it makes sense that VCs are consuming more decks this week.

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: Flat
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: -3%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: +17%

It looks like founders are getting back into action and sending out their pitch decks. While pitch deck interest has remained flat, the time spent per deck has dropped slightly. With an increase in decks being sent this makes sense. This has traditionally been the week each year where we start to see a drop in interest, so flat interest from VCs here is actually great news. Interest is 4% more than it was this week in 2018 and a whopping 18% more than in 2019. Founder links created are still slightly behind its peak from earlier this year. If you’re a founder looking to get funding, you may want to consider sending out your pitch deck now.

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

  • Pitch Deck Interest: +3.5%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Time Spent: +3%
  • Pitch Deck Interest: Links Created: -7.6%

We’ve had another week showing increasing investor interest. This was paired with founders sending out fewer decks and investors spending slightly more time per deck. These conditions are very good for founders looking to send out a pitch deck. Investors are showing interest, and they’re spending more time per deck. We recommend adding a slide to your deck that shows how you expect COVID-19 to impact your business and market opportunity over the coming 12-18 months.

Apr 6, 2020

Investor interest is increasing, but the amount of decks being sent has not yet risen to match. If you need to fundraise now might be the right time to take advantage of a less crowded market.

Based on our three metrics, we can see that after a decline over the last few weeks, investors are back to reviewing decks at nearly the pace they were before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In fact, last week was only 5.4% down from the week of February 17th. That interest can most likely be correlated with the amount of decks being sent. The average number of links sent out per company was at an all-time low two weeks ago, but is now creeping back up to the pre-COVID-19 range. It looks like founders are slowly starting to fundraise again, or they’re working on much more targeted fundraising efforts.

With investor interest in pitch decks rising, but the amount of links not rising to match, it means now could be a great time to send out your deck. The market could be less crowded when vying for a VC’s attention.

It also tracks that investors are spending slightly less time reviewing deals than normal. The added complication of working from home, plus spending more time with their current portfolio, means many VCs will have less hours in the day to review decks for new business deals. As things become more settled over the next few weeks, these numbers may start to stabilize. But for now, decks are being sent, VCs are reviewing more decks, and they’re doing it quickly.

Mar 30, 2020

This week saw a 10% increase in pitch deck interest from the week before and we’re just 5% down YoY.

While many investors have reported spending more time with their portfolio companies, it looks like the lack of events and meetings has given them plenty of time to still peruse pitch decks. VCs are approaching investing in multiple different ways. Many still have large funds that need to be deployed, while others are taking time to look at deals, but not necessarily pulling the trigger right away. If you’re a founder who’s looking for funding in the next few quarters, now might be the perfect time to get your pitch deck in front of potential investors.

Mar 23, 2020

Despite the current crisis, pitch deck interest only dropped 11% YoY over the course of the week.

With the announcement that all non-essential businesses in California will remain closed for the foreseeable future, it’s not a surprise that pitch deck interest dipped over the course of last week. Many VCs are looking at new ways to meet with founders, with many already taking meetings via Zoom. We also must note that many of the usual ways that VCs receive deck (warm intros from portfolio companies, meetings at events) are no longer happening due to the current restrictions. That means VCs are not only spending time on internal alignment in how best to move forward, they are also facing a limited pipeline. But both Axios and TechCrunch are reporting that many VCs are still actively seeking deals. Their funds have already been raised and they still very much plan to deploy them.

 

 

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This is a first of its kind index covering fundraising from Pre-Seed to series B. It offers the first look under the hood at what makes a founder successful, from their age to team size to the order of their pitch deck. Our first report on the index is taking a deep dive into what makes a company successful in the (somewhat) new Pre-Seed round. For more information on our research, media requests, or suggestions please contact us at research(at)docsend(dot)com.

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