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Free Templates for Great Startup Board Decks, Direct from VCs

   Jul 29, 2014
  

One of the most common questions we receive from founders here at NextView Ventures is whether we can share examples of great board decks. As it turns out, drafting your board deck or your investor update can be especially tricky for seed-stage startups (which is our entire investment focus) given the lack of resources, lack of available data, and even just the lack of time that the company has been in existence. So today, as part of our seed-focused platform of resources, we’re excited to launch these free templates for creating great startup board decks.

This resource is part of our Growth Guides series, which is NextView’s growing library of resources built to help seed-stage startups execute. Our first, a visual blueprint of end-to-end content marketing for startups, can be found here.

To help explain the origin and the purpose of these board deck templates, we created a quick SlideShare (embedded below), in addition to placing commentary from me and my partners throughout the template to explain some of the nuances.

Best Practices to Get You Started

Building great board decks

Creating a great board deck is one of those startup activities that’s both critically important and understandably annoying. Board decks in and of themselves don’t move the numbers, and every investor or firm seems to have an opinion about what they want to see included (not to mention what the entrepreneur wants to include). Yet they are so incredibly meaningful for keeping investors up to date, asking for help, discussing the business, and generally moving forward with your business plan.

So because this is a somewhat strange combination of instrumental and chore-like, we took a strong stance as to how you should execute by building our templates. You’ll find two styles within the guide, supplemented by some advice from me, Rob, and David. And, although we present a couple options to help you make progress, there are still many other exceptions. It’s also important to note that these templates were built specifically for seed-stage startups. They shouldn’t be used for companies that have scaled well beyond their Series A.

With that said, there are some overarching best practices to keep in mind as you create your board deck. Here’s an initial list:

Agenda & Content

  • A good board deck is divided into two sections: housekeeping and major issues/topics. While not often marked as such, these sections make up the two types of updates or discussion points presented in the deck.
  • 20-30% of your meeting time should be housekeeping (at most). These are general updates that the board should know about or need to quickly discuss/approve.
  • 50%+ of your meeting time should be major issues. These are the 1-3 key obstacles, priorities, or initiatives at your company that require more in-depth discussion.
  • As your startup scales and more executives join, plan to have them each present to the board on their department’s results at least once during their first 6-12 months.
  • Certain data should be present for each meeting, including financing (burn, cash out date, etc.), major hires, and major product milestones. (See the full template for more.)

Meeting Length & Cadence

  • Your deck should include more than you plan to discuss in person, especially as your company scales and more data can be reported. The expectation is for all parties to read the deck in advance. As such, your deck is not a presentation aid but a more complete document that can be read and understood without much commentary.
  • Schedule your first board of directors meeting shortly after raising your seed round and all following meetings through the remainder of the year. This helps all parties prioritize them and schedule other things around them.
  • Block at least two hours for your board meeting. (They will likely run shorter, but better to allow for any organic discussion just in case.)
  • Plan on meeting every 6 weeks at first, moving to every 8 weeks or perhaps even quarterly as your company grows.

Design

  • Keep your design simple. Decks should be presentable, clean, and clear, but don’t agonize over beauty. Your board wants to focus on forward progress, not scrutinize your slide design.
  • Many directors and observers prefer all information sent in one file, so be sure to include screen shots from any spreadsheets or product mockups/features you’ll discuss.
  • It’s best to send via PDF, but if you have to send via PowerPoint for some reason, use basic fonts and slide dimensions that all PPT versions and operating systems can cleanly read.
  • And remember to circulate your deck 1-2 days in advance of your board of directors meeting.

Startup Board Deck Templates

When you’re ready to get started, you can either walk through the SlideShare below or click here to start the download. (Note: There’s no form to fill out or marketing that will follow. The link will initiate a PowerPoint download.)

 

startup-board-deck-templates

StartUpRoar
Lee Hower is a co-founder and partner at NextView Ventures. He has spent his entire career as an entrepreneur and investor in early-stage software and internet startups. Lee started his career as an early employee of PayPal in product and business development roles through the company's 2002 IPO and sale to eBay. Lee was then a co-founder of LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) and served as head of corporate development. Prior to co-founding NextView, he helped build the first internet investment practice at Point Judith Capital. Lee is a graduate of both the University of Pennsylvania Management and Technology program and the Wharton School.

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