R.I.P. Pitch Decks
Prediction: it’s now only a matter of time before pitch decks become obsolete.
Recently, I used ChatGPT to create a very convincing startup idea and fully-formed pitch. AI is eating the world and it’s going to eat your pitch deck.
Then again, pitch decks have never been just about data (more on that later). They are a shorthand that, in theory at least, helps founders and funders decide if they should work together.
In practice it’s a lot messier. Pitching (and fundraising) is inefficient and frustrating.
That’s why I believe AI will fundamentally change how startups pitch, for the better.
Here’s how I predict it will happen.
Thanks for reading A Leap of Faith, a newsletter about pitching and founder storytelling. Written by a real human being, for now.
Phase 1: AI co-pilots
Tools like Grammarly already help people write. GitHub Copilot helps coders code. Expect to see AI co-pilot tools explode as more and more use cases are discovered.
Pitching is one of them.
In my own work, one of the most useful roles I play is as an external, impartial expert. I’m able to see flaws in a pitch because I see thousands of pitch decks and I’m not emotionally invested.
All of that could be done better with an AI co-pilot. E.g. pointing out weaknesses in a story, or turning a 30-slide pitch deck into 10 slides. Then turning those 10 slides into a 1-line elevator pitch. Most founders need help with that and tools like ChatGPT already have human-level summarization capabilities.
Not all of the tools exist today but they will in the coming months, or weeks.
Phase 2: AI remixers
Timeframe: Months, max one year.
AI can already generate most of your pitch deck. It can do it in rhyme or in Bible verse.
Large language models like ChatGPT can learn your preferences and style. They will increasingly be able to mimic your own storytelling voice.
They will also be able to generate pitch deck designs and graphics at the level of a professional designer. This is a relatively straightforward problem to solve because graphic design in pitch decks is constrained.
Designs.ai can generate thousands of variants of a design and Canva has incorporated generative AI in its product.
In the near future, AI will generate an ideal pitch deck based on each VC’s requirements and preferences. Or targeted to a specific partner within the firm. No more tinkering with your deck.
Pitch decks will no longer be a 1:1 document. Meaning there will never be one ‘final’ pitch deck, only a source file for unlimited variants.
This is ‘remixing’ because the original is still created (assisted by an AI copilot) by a human.
This phase is not far off. But it also won’t last long…
Phase 3: AI used by VCs for dealflow
Timeframe: One year.
VCs are more excited by AI than you are. Especially the ones on Twitter.
This means they are already exploring ways to use AI to help them find dealflow and pick winners, which are both unsolved problems.
Startup data is notoriously difficult to work with. It’s not standardized nor centralized.
AI can do a much better job finding, tracking and screening startups. It’s not limited by the number of events someone can attend or the number of outreach emails an associate can send.
The difference between this and data/tools today is that VCs will increasingly rely on AI not only to find startups, but evaluate them.
AI will be the new VC gatekeeper. That should be good news for many entrepreneurs unable to access capital. But human bias, and AI bias, will be an area of concern.
But this AI agent is not interested in pitch decks. It will want data, ideally through an API. Entrepreneurs will lose the ability to massage their story or add colour to their pitch. This will feel like a loss of control.
Where the pitch deck will still exist is as a dashboard used by VCs to quickly summarize your data in a format they like.
In other words, a pitch deck will go from something entrepreneurs create to something VCs create.
I don’t believe pitching is dead or the storypocalypse is upon us.
There is a possible world where fundraising becomes a negotiation purely between AI agents.
But as long as people run businesses, storytelling will be needed. Maybe not in the form of a pitch deck but some better way. Like a conversation that captures the story, the data, and the dream.
Most importantly the dream.