We see hundreds of in-person pitches each year and coach our founders through hundreds more. As a result, the Maven team has put together our perspective on what we like to see in a funding pitch meeting. Each investor has their own approach and preferences; for instance, we often like to see a deck in first meetings because it helps structure the conversation and get most of our initial questions out of the way. Some investors would rather have a casual, less structured conversation. Research your target investors and ask around in your network to get a feel for their preferences.

The Deck
There are already a number of great resources on pitch decks. Here are a few solid ones as a starting point:

The ideal Maven pitch deck has a lot in common with these, plus a few unique aspects given our focus. Here’s the structure we like to see:

  • Vision Worth Fighting For
  • Problem Statement
  • Product
  • Traction (if you have)
  • Market Opportunity
  • Distribution (Customer Acquisition)
  • Team
  • Competition
  • Business Model
  • The Ask
  • Milestones: What are you going to do with the money?

In addition to the structure, we encourage founders to keep the presentation very visual without too much text. You should never read directly from a slide. If you’re sending the deck ahead of time, it might be appropriate to have a bit more text if the visuals don’t stand on their own – but always strive to trim as much text as possible.

The Meeting
You should be able to cover your ~10 slide deck in about 20-25 minutes, leaving at least 10-20 minutes for questions. If interrupted during your pitch, address the question or concern and then get back to the deck. When you first sit down with the investor, make sure you ask how much time they have. Often, investors allocate an hour for the meeting but like to end 10 minutes early to debrief or make notes before their next meeting. Sometimes the day is running behind and you might have an abbreviated 30 minute meeting. Make sure to ask and tailor your speaking accordingly.

Finally, small talk before diving into the deck can be key. An investor-startup relationship will hopefully last many years, and is bound to experience ups and downs. Start by building a personal relationship and trying to find shared interests or experiences. Often an investor will make a decision of how engaged they will be during the meeting in those first few minutes.

The 2-hour wait to see the new Oculus at CES says it all. VR was everywhere at the show. Maven has made one investment in VR so far, and we are looking for more, because 2016 will be the year of VR. One big reason is that Facebook’s Oculus announced pre-orders at the show and sold-out in one day. Sony was showing off their amazing VR gaming platform to arrive later this year and HTC, Samsung, and Google are also racing to bring new products to market. We don’t invest in hardware, but love to predict consumer software trends which rely on new hardware platforms — and the quality of the top software products for VR is already game-changing.

Here’s why we’re betting on VR in 2016:

New Software on Hardware Platforms
In many ways, this reminds me of the iPhone launch in 2007. When I first saw the iPhone, I knew it would change consumers’ lives and we successfully invested in a number of new consumer mobile phone apps like Tango (leading over-the-top messaging app that was recently valued at $1B), Check (a personal finance app that sold to Intuit in 2014 for $360M) and Banjo (recently received $100M investment from SoftBank). New hardware platforms make new consumer software products possible.

I’ve Seen the Experience
I first seriously considered VR more than two years ago. Even in those early days, some of the consumer software was like nothing I’d tried before. For example, in Altspace, it’s truly like being there.  Now that the software and experiences are more mature and much better, things will start to quickly accelerate. So, we’re looking for more game-changing VR consumer experiences to invest in.

Market Validation
We’re bullish on the VR market penetration. Some analysts predict that there will be around 12M headsets purchased in 2016 — and some reports have much more optimistic numbers including nearly 100M to be sold in the next two and a half years.

We can’t predict the future for sure, but we can develop thoughtful hypotheses, do our research, and speak to experts and founders to obtain a better sense of when the market will take off — which is why we’re looking now for new consumer-facing VR software startup investments.

Thanks to my talented Maven teammates, Sara Thomas and Robert Ravanshenas, for reviewing and editing drafts of this post. Follow us on Twitter @mavenvc.