Building a Better Team Slide for Your Startup’s Deck

Every pitch deck needs a “team” slide. Most aren’t as good as they could be. Here’s how to improve them.

Every pitch deck needs a “team” slide. At the early stage of a startup when the product concept is fuzzy and revenue is non-existent, VCs are essentially backing the team above all else. But almost all team slides are sub-optimal.

A standard team slide usually has:

📸 Pics of the founders/key execs

✒️ Names & titles

🏆 Each person’s affiliations: Prior companies they’ve worked at, educational institutions they attended, awards won, etc. (Ideally depicted with logos!)

That’s basically it.

IMHO, the big weakness of this format is that it only really provides a sense of a) how well they fit into the modern meritocracy, and b) how photogenic they are. It’s a fine tool that provides a 30,000-foot view, but it also leaves so many questions open, e.g.:

“Was this person a real player at Google, or one of a thousand faceless APMs?”

“Did they move the needle at Flatiron Health or were they along for the ride?”

“WTF is Hooli? Never heard of it? Is it big? Who funded them?”

So what should founders do instead?

Improvement 1: Provide a scouting report

Add a line or two under the person’s affiliations that highlight their skills or experiences. Essentially, provide the color commentary you’d use if you were introducing this person at a tech conference.

For example:

🔒 Shraddha scaled the security team at Stripe from 2 to 220

🎨 Dan designed the new Apple podcast icon

📢 Mei led print marketing at Airbnb & launched their magazine

🤝 Bijan closed the three most lucrative BD deals at Plaid Simple statements can add so much resolution.

This results-based framing is especially useful if the team didn’t work at blue-chip tech companies or go to elite schools. It also helps to provide a view of how the founders think about building the team, and the caliber of talent they’re able to recruit.

Improvement 2: Document the team’s digital DNA

Practically speaking, you need a team slide in the deck. However, the core team DNA is more effectively conveyed in an email that has clickable links to the relevant online personas for the key execs.

Something like this:

Kate — CEO [LinkedIn] [Twitter] [HackerNews]

Ho-Jun — CTO [LinkedIn] [GitHub]

Vijay — CMO [LinkedIn] [Twitter] [YouTube]

Jada — VP Design [LinkedIn [Twitter] [Dribbble]

Eventually, VCs will want to do due diligence, and this format makes it easier.

The team slide is important — and completely under-theorized. Aside from the team member biographies, no slide in a pitch deck looks more alike from startup to startup. These two ideas are just scratching the surface of potential improvements. What would you change?

Director of Content & Community Joe Flaherty recently shared this as a tweetstorm.

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Our mission is to be the most aligned VC for founders at seed. #ProudInvestor in @Uber @TheTradeDeskinc @Buzzfeed @Cruise @Diaandco @PillPack @SeatGeek & more.

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Our mission is to be the most aligned VC for founders at seed. #ProudInvestor in @Uber @TheTradeDeskinc @Buzzfeed @Cruise @Diaandco @PillPack @SeatGeek & more.

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