Have you suffered from Pitch Deck Whiplash recently? We came across this term on LinkedIn.
George Fairhall who founded WAC - Work & Money Management App used this phrase in a thread which most founders will have experienced when trying to raise funds.
She describes it as "Getting a complete range of reasons not to invest. I took feedback and then went to the next investor who gave me the complete opposite advice again. I ended up with pitch deck whiplash!"
How to handle conflicting investor advice
If you're running a traction-driven startup and looking to raise funds ranging from Seed to Series A, you'll no doubt come across several investors who want to give you advice. Here's the problem: You end up getting conflicting advice from all investors, leaving you feeling extremely perplexed.
VCs expect you to hit various targets in order to raise the desired round.
Some of the conflicting advice you might come across:
- "You need a different financial model”
- "You need some more users to prove traction"
- “You need to build more features into the app.”
- “You need to remove all these additional features and focus on offering just one solution."
- “You need to generate revenue to prove your model.”
- “Don’t mind revenue at this stage, just focus on becoming a platform with x number of users before you monetise.”
The list goes on and on and on...So whose advice should you go with?!
An investors perspective may be biased
If an investor is an ex-founder and had phenomenal success as a founder, in a startup in a specific area—for example, enterprise sales, mobile, viral, or building a marketplace—it will influence their perspective in business. This includes your startup. There is no one-size-fits-all solutions, which is why trial and error and experimentation is important in the early-stages to learn what works for you.
Some refer to this as mentor whiplash
If you have many mentors look over your pitch deck, you will most likely get opposing advice on how to make improvements and polish that pitch deck. This is referred to as mentor whiplash. Too many opposing viewpoints leave the creator befuddled, uneasy, and unaware of how to negotiate the back and forth of opposing viewpoints from their many mentors. Finding the signal among all of the contradictory advise noise can be extremely difficult.
When you receive comments or feedback from a large number of people, you may encounter a few difficulties. You may receive feedback that you do not particularly agree with, as well as feedback from multiple sources that is contradictory.
It can be a real challenge to navigate every piece of feedback that potential investors give.
- Some are super insightful and you want to benefit from
- Some are super insightful but risks lots of distraction
- Some are super insightful but not right for you
- Some is great general advice
- Some is wide of the mark
- Some is dangerous
Which do you listen to?
They are all supposed to know what they are talking about, right?
- Obvious small messaging feedback for better clarify is great
- Suggestions on things you may not of considered, super!
- Big strategic feedback on direction... this can help or hinder!
- Every Investor has an opinion
- Every Investor has a different requirement
- Every Investor has very different experiences
- Every Investor has their own interpretation of your business
Filter it all very carefully and think twice before adopting to their feedback - get some wider consensus before making too many changes otherwise:
- Your messaging risks getting confused
- You'll be editing your deck every 10 minutes
- The changes may be aimed at the wrong audiences
So collate it as you go, take note, but filter it very carefully.
You are still in charge
Ultimately, you are the steward of your start-up, the pitch deck, your pitch, and ensuring that your message is conveyed correctly. Everyone else is willing to assist, but they are approaching the situation from a different angle than you are, and YOU are the only one who fully understands your business. After all, you are the only one who has the complete picture. There is no easy way to make sense of contradictory investor advice. At the end of the day, you must learn to trust your instincts and go with the investors who share your vision for the future.