A startup that raised $66 million in 5 days reveals the biggest mistake people make when they prepare a slideshow

Business Insider | Jun 24, 2018, 07.00PM IST

cofounders of front mathilde collin laurent perrin

Courtesy of Front

Mathilde Collin and Laurent Perrin.

  • A hot Silicon Valley startup raised $66 million in 5 days using 24 slides.
  • The company's CEO shared the pitch deck she used to raise the investment.
  • It reveals a smart tip for how to prepare an effective slideshow presentation.
  • The biggest tip: Keep each slide simple.

Raising venture capital for a startup is no cakewalk.

There are high stakes, probing questions from investors, and pressure from employees to return to the office with a deal on the table.

So it's noteworthy that Mathilde Collin, the 28-year-old cofounder and CEO of the shared-inbox app Front, raked in $66 million and 10 investment offers in five days. Collin later shared the pitch deck she used to raise venture - and it's not the first time she's opened up Front's books to help other entrepreneurs.

Of course, she didn't do it alone.

Cyril Gantzer, the head of Front's analytics team, helped Collin create the pitch deck she used for talking to investors. He mastered the art of the preparing a slideshow presentation during his time at a marketing consultancy, and now he's sharing his widsom with us.

The number-one mistake people make in preparing a presentation, says Gantzer, is that they overload their audience with too much information.

"That's usually the thing people get wrong. They put way too much on a slide," Gantzer said. "They still have the document format in mind - the more you can cram on the screen the better."

According to Gantzer, there's a fundamental difference between a document and a presentation. A document is a self-contained material that can "travel on its own." Chockfull of words and numbers, it contains everything the recipient needs to make sense of it.

A presentation, on the other hand, should have no more than one message per slide, according to Gantzer. It should take only three seconds to read and injest what's on screen.

Having short slides puts the responsibility on the presentation-giver to guide their audience through the story they want to tell. In the case of Front, Collin's pitch deck told the story of Front. It addressed the pain points that Front aims to solve, the achievements of the company so far, and the long-term vision of how Front hopes to reinvent email.

It was also minimalist, which encouraged her audience to read the slide and shift their attention back to the speaker.

Gantzer added that the number of slides shouldn't be a constraint. It's better to spread information across many short slides than to squeeze a novel into 10 slides, he said.

"If you optimize for the number of slides it's because you have a rule in mind that you should spend three minutes per slide," he said.

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