A deck template, tips, and best practices that successfully raised $500M+ from LPs
Welcome to the second edition of Signature Block, a newsletter for emerging fund managers. If someone forwarded this to you, subscribe get the next one in your inbox.
In our last edition we shared advice on how to raise from LPs. In this edition we’re going a step deeper by sharing examples of 13 pitch decks that successfully raised over $500M from LPs in aggregate. In this post, we link to full decks (a picture is worth a thousand words, right?) and summarize patterns, tips, and best practices.
Fund managers are salespeople and pitch deck (or memo for some) is the primary sales tool. It’s often the hook to capture enough interest to secure a meeting with LPs. It also serves as support during and after a pitch meeting.
If you only have a few minutes, here are four main takeaways to consider when creating a deck for LPs:
The purpose of your pitch deck is to convince LPs in your ability to make outlier investments. Making exceptional investments relies on access, sound decision-making, and an ability to win deals. Your pitch deck should breakdown how you do this effectively.
Your pitch deck is the place to tell the most clear, concise, and convincing version of your fund’s story. Focus on the narrative, leave out the commentary. Like any good storytelling, this requires distilling it down to the core message you want to get across. It often requires a lot of editing and re-editing.
“Showing” is better than telling. Use examples, numbers (e.g. past performance metrics), screenshot evidence of how you’ve helped, and other visuals to add credibility to your deck. These can be very memorable and help create a more objective narrative.
Let others speak to your strengths and establish social credibility. As with GPs investing in startups, many LPs value social proof, consciously or subconsciously. Highlight positive quotes from founders you’ve backed, testimonials from strong references, and LPs already committed to investing in your fund.
Lastly, before we dive into the template, it’s worth acknowledging that some people have a hard time boasting about themselves. If that’s you, you’ll have to get over it when creating a pitch deck. Pump your chest a little, with authenticity. :)
Shout out to Julia Lipton (Awesome People Ventures); Amit Vasudev, Matt Sornson, and Alex MacCaw (Earl Grey Capital); Lee Jacobs (Long Journey Ventures); Packy McCormick (Not Boring Capital); Charles Hudson and Christine Tobolski (Precursor Ventures); Niv Dror (Shrug Capital) Wiz (Spacecadet); Leo Polovets (Susa Ventures); Todd Goldberg (Todd and Rahul’s Angel Fund); and Brianne Kimmel (Worklife) for contributing.
Here’s a template of what each deck should include, along with examples from the decks linked at the bottom of this essay. While each fund story is unique, most LPs are looking to answer the questions prompted in each of the slides in this outline.
Title: So, what’s this fund called? Which fund is it?
Team: Who is the GP? Who else is on the team?
Access: How do you get access to high-quality investment opportunities? What’s your advantage?
Ability to win: How will you win competitive deals? What’s your value-add to founders?
Investment Focus: What are you investing in? Why? Do you have a unique insight into that focus?
Track record: Do you have investment experience? What’s your past track record? What are your most impressive investments?
Fund structure: What’s the size of the fund, stage you’re investing in, number of expected investments, and other details on the fund structure.
Network: Who’s in your orbit? Which founders, investors, and others do you collaborate with and can you show examples?
Appendix: Additional materials that might be useful to include
Each of the above topics can be covered with a single slide or a set of slides.
So, what’s this fund called? Which fund is it?
The goal of this slide is to simply introduce the fund.
While not required, a tagline can be useful for setting the tone and establishing differentiation from the beginning. The best one-liners are memorable soundbites.
Fund number (e.g. Fund I or II)
Fund-specific branding which can help you become memorable
Who is the GP? Who else is on the team?
The goal of this slide is to convince LPs you’re the right person to deliver on the fund presented.
As with startups, the team slide is critical in a fund deck. Use this slide to showcase your experience most relevant to becoming a fund manager. If you include this slide near the beginning of your deck, it’s your opportunity to get LPs “nodding along” from the start.
Name and a photo
A few sentence summary of your career and highlights
Relevant experience related to becoming a fund manager
If applicable, additional team members involved in the fund
If you have an audience, talk about your reach and the relevancy of that group
Press, awards, or achievements
What you’re known for
How do you get access to high-quality investment opportunities? What’s your advantage?
The goal of this slide is to convince LPs you have a real, differentiated, and enduring advantage that will enable you to see outlier investment opportunities.
Having access to good deal flow is a necessary condition to making great investments. In this slide, explain the drivers of your deal flow and why they give you access to great investment opportunities.
Deal flow can be categorized into two buckets: Inbound and outbound.
Inbound deal flow might be driven by your brand (as a successful founder, operator, creator, etc.), your network, your reputation, or all of the above.
Outbound deal flow may come through an outbound sourcing system, proprietary flywheels, or “owned” networks that provide unique insights and access.
The primary drivers of your deal flow
Personal systems or flywheels that make your access advantage stronger over time
Examples of how you sourced specific investments
Social proof that validates your access
Ability to win
How will you win competitive deals? What’s your value-add to founders?
The goal of this slide is to convince LPs that you’re “making something founders want”.
It’s not enough to have access to good investment opportunities, they need to want you as an investor, especially as venture has become increasingly competitive. In this slide, share your “value-add” to founders and why they choose you as an investor.
How you help founders and your superpower value-add
Quotes from founders highlighting specific ways you helped
Case studies highlighting specific ways you helped a portfolio company
NPS or similar portfolio support performance metrics
What are you investing in? Why? Do you have a unique insight into that focus?
The goal of this slide is to illustrate a winning investment strategy that aligns with your unique advantages.
This includes the stage, themes/theses, and any other details about the types of companies you’re investing in. You can also include details about the market opportunity and why the timing is right for your investment focus. Many funds are either thematic or thesis driven:
Thematic investing involves identifying big themes and going after them. Examples from the world of web services would be "social networking", "online video", "ad networks", "social media", "real time", "mobile". I know many VCs who go about it this way. They identify the themes and then get busy filling out their portfolio with companies that fit those themes.
Thesis driven investing involves drawing a picture of where your particular area of focus is going. I like to take a five to ten year view. And once you have mapped out that picture, it becomes your thesis. And you evaluate every investment you make in the context of that thesis.
That’s not to say you cannot raise a pure network-driven, horizontal fund. Many fund managers with stated themes or thesis invest in promising companies that don’t cleanly fit inside these definitions.
Whatever investment focus you choose, it’s helpful to share examples of companies you’ve invested in or companies similar to ones you plan to invest in that fit your focus.
Investment theme or thesis
Companies that fit your investment focus and why
Your investment TAM: the size of the market opportunity and its growth
Why timing is right for your investment focus
Do you have investment experience? What’s your past track record? What are your most impressive investments?
The goal of this slide is to show LPs that you have experience, even if minimal, and (if you can) impress them with your portfolio to date.
If you’re raising your first fund you won’t have a formal portfolio to report; however, you can use the following as a “proxy”: angel investments, deals you’ve scouted for another fund, and companies you legitimately had access to invest in but didn’t have the capital to do so.
Important note: Some managers lose trust with LPs by (sometimes mistakenly) misreporting numbers. Investment multiples are based on the appreciation of the fund’s price per share based on the most recent priced round. Future rounds completed on a note or SAFE should not be reported as markups. You can include a disclaimer if you’d like to highlight companies that raised non-priced rounds at a higher cap than your initial investment, but don’t conflate that with traditional performance metrics.
Number of companies in your portfolio
TVPI, IRR, and other standard VC performance metrics
Names of the best performing investments and if applicable, markups
Names of investors who led or participated in successive rounds of funding
More “bespoke” performance metrics like specific markups, number of unicorns in your portfolio, or percentage of your portfolio that received markups
Benchmarks that can help LPs contextualize your investment performance (more useful for less experienced LPs)
A snapshot of the entire portfolio in the context of investment performance
What’s the size of the fund, stage you’re investing in, number of expected investments, and other details on the fund structure?
The goal of this slide is to share fund strategy decisions you’ve made with LPs, and ensure they’re well-informed.
Fund size (a range is OK, but it should be somewhat narrow)
Number of expected investments
Investment period (an estimate is fine as deployment velocity can depend on market conditions)
Fund pricing (carry and management fees)
Fund admin and related fees
Follow-on and reserve strategy
Back office setup
SPV strategy or opportunity fund structure, if applicable
Who’s in your orbit? Which founders, investors, and others do you collaborate with and can you show examples?
The goal of this slide is to show that the fund you’re building is surrounded by the right people and networks to succeed.
Admittedly, this slide can be a bit hand wavy. We all know a lot of people and simply listing your LinkedIn connections won’t impress anyone. Nonetheless, venture is a highly network and relationship-driven endeavor so showcasing talented people and organizations you legitimately engage with can signal confidence. It also serves as a conversation starter about mutual connections and an informal list of leads that LPs may contact for a reference.
LPs in your fund, networks you’re a part of, co-investors you collaborate with, and relationships you have with connectors in your area of focus (when listing individuals, make sure to get their explicit sign-off)
Pictures or avatars to make it more visually interesting
Here’s a miscellaneous collection of additional materials that might be useful to include:
How you communicate with LPs, including examples of past LP updates
Screenshot or link to your full portfolio with details (e.g. name of the company, tagline, logo, associated markup, etc.)
Case studies of how you got into specific deals that showcase your ability to win
Examples of how you helped specific portfolio companies that show your value-add
Deep dives into specific portfolio companies you’re most proud of
An FAQ of common questions that you anticipate from LPs
Fund Deck Collection
And here’s the collection of fund pitch decks (and memos) featured. Note that some GPs redacted sensitive information.
Awesome People Ventures Fund 2 Memo
Earl Grey Capital Fund II Memo and Primer Deck
Long Journey Ventures Fund I Deck
Not Boring Capital - Fund I Memo
Not Boring Capital - Fund II Memo
Precursor Fund III Deck
Shrug Capital IV LP Email + Shrug Founder Deck
Size of the fund: $54M
Created September 2021
Susa Ventures IV and Opportunity Fund II Deck
$100M seed fund and $200M opportunity fund
Created March 2021
Todd and Rahul’s Angel Fund II Deck
Weekend Fund 3.0 Deck
WorkLife 2 Deck
Worklife 1 Deck
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