Is it silly to combine years of experience in a pitch deck?

(image source – Robinhood Ventures)

When we were first putting together our pitch deck I can remember looking at dozens of other pitch decks. Just about every pitch deck has a team slide, if it doesn’t then it should. 

Most pitch decks I’ve seen, and created, have a team slide that shows key team members and a bit more information about them like where they worked, went to school, etc.

Every once and a while I have come across a pitch deck that says something like, “a combined 40 years of experience” and I’ll be honest with you, it seems a bit silly to me. 

Well it looks like I’m not alone as Leo Polovets from Susa Ventures shared a similar sentiment on Twitter…and a LOT of people seemed to agree.

The point Leo makes here is a good one. Combining years of experience doesn’t really tell an investor much. Suppose you have two engineers with a “combined 25 years of Python experience” well you could have one person with 24 years of Python experience and another with one. Or maybe you have two balanced people, one with 12 and one with 13 years of experience.

It’s confusing and like the title of my post says, I think it’s just silly. At the end of the day you’re trying to put your best foot forward when you’re pitching an investor and doing this IMHO makes it seem like you’re trying to over-state the amount of experience your team has. 

While it’s great to be proud of your team (I’m damn proud of ours!) it’s also not doing justice to your team members to highlight what really makes them special. Investors really want to understand if you have the right balance of skills on your team to execute and this doesn’t do a great job of articulating that.

I don’t like to give advice on my blog because I’m a first-time founder myself so I’m not sure I’m in any place to give advice. That being said if there are ways you can mitigate risk while pitching, I’d try to avoid doing things that either bugs or confuses investors, and combining years of experience certainly seems to be one of those things.

If you’re looking for a little pitch deck inspiration, one of my all-time favorite blog posts about pitch decks is from Reid Hoffman the founder of LinkedIn. You can read his advice about pitching as he goes through the LinkedIn deck and pick up a few nuggets that will likely help you in refining your deck.

Happy pitching!

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