The Team Slide: You Had Me At Hello


By Josh Hannah, General Partner at Matrix Partners.

This is part of our series “Pitching to Investors” that shares real examples and practical advice on creating a great investor pitch deck.

Our goal in this series is to help entrepreneurs nail their pitches so they can more easily communicate their startup ideas and find the right VC partners to help them grow their businesses. We introduced the series with 5 tips on how to present to investors, because while no single slide will make or break your presentation, the way you tell your narrative will leave investors either believing in you and your company, or not.

In this post we’ll focus on creating a great team slide. We realize the team slide may not seem very challenging. However, many founders, not realizing it’s one of the most important slides in your presentation, throw it in as an afterthought. That’s a missed opportunity. At Matrix, we focus on early stage investments, and the biggest bet we make is on you and your team–we invest in people. We generally recommend your team slide come first in your presentation.

The team slide is your chance to showcase why you are exceptional and why we should bet on your team. It’s your chance to kick off the meeting with more than the standard 15 second intro. But, this slide is not as simple as it first appears. We’ve seen some great ones, and some crash and burns. Who from your team should you include and how much do you share?

There are three potential outcomes from your team slide:

  1. A positive bias. An investor sees your team as exceptional on its own and that they should invest in you almost regardless of your idea. Or, that your team is perfect for this idea and building this particular company.
  2. A neutral stance. An investor concludes that your team will not be the sole reason they would do the deal, but it’s not a barring factor either.
  3. A negative bias. Your team slide makes an investor question you and your team’s fit for your idea, or your ability to execute. This is most likely because they learn nothing from the slide due to a lack of information, or your team appears to be extremely homogenous or lacking relevant experience.

To create a team slide that makes us excited to meet you and your team, and learn more, it should answer a few key questions:

Are you a person of interest?

Show us you are a founder we want to meet, that you stand out in some way–that you are intelligent, driven, ethical, and that you have excelled in the things you do.

  • Do you have a strong educational background?
  • Have you been the top performer in your previous roles?
  • Do you have a unique experience that makes you well suited to build this particular company?

Proactively shape our impression of you by listing the education, job titles and employment history that will show us how you stand out.

Do you have a strong founding team?

Investors are looking for a strong and diverse team with relevant domain expertise. If you have all of these things, great! Showcase them. But, whatever team make up you’re working with, play to your strengths. Put a positive spin on homogenous educational or company experience by emphasizing a super strong team dynamic. Similarly, you can counter a lack of experience by highlighting entrepreneurial spirit or accomplishments.

It’s helpful to give a high level breakdown of the number of people on your team and an outline of the functional areas. But, don’t list all 10 people at your company down to contractors and the roommate who delivers the keg on Friday afternoons.

Have you figured out with your co-founders who is doing what?

If you have multiple founders, your titles should indicate that you’ve had a conversation about who will own what functional areas of the business. Confusion around this can be painfully clear to VCs and is a red flag. We know you’re running a startup and everyone will do some of everything, but distinction around each founder’s focus shows maturity and readiness to execute.

What kind of founder and CEO will you be? Are you entrepreneurial and are we a good match?

Share with us more about who you are and what makes you tick. How have you gotten to where you are? What career highlights and accomplishments showcase your entrepreneurial experience? Or, if you’re recently out of school, what did you do in school or on the side that shows your drive and savviness. We want to know as much about you as possible to determine whether Matrix will be a good match in helping you grow your business.

We’ve taken real examples of team slides from early stage companies who have pitched us and annotated them to help clarify these points. To see these examples — good ones and those missing the mark — visit the full post here: The Team Slide: You Had Me At Hello.

Follow us on Twitter: Josh Hannah, @jdh and Matrix Partners, @Matrix Partners.