Why Your Whitepaper and Pitch Deck Are Driving Away Investors
Some 9 out of 10 whitepapers are worse than bad – they’re destructive. Your whitepaper and pitch deck should be institutional-grade documents that build confidence in the project and secure investment. In many cases, the reverse is true, with these flagship docs unintentionally undermining the project’s credibility, driving investors and their money right out of the door.
This isn’t due to incompetence on the part of the project team. In fairness, it’s just that writing great documentation is hard. This is particularly true for team members attempting to write these documents while deeply embedded inside the project. Knowing the subject matter so intimately can unwittingly affect a team’s sense of perspective. They’re already persuaded by the arguments and, as a result, struggle to write persuasively.
Great document writing requires a strong multidisciplinary approach from a seasoned, objective writing team. That team should also have knowledge in finance, business strategy and token economics together with all the requisite technical expertise. What’s more, the final product must be authoritative, well written and beautifully designed. That’s a lot of hurdles to clear from a standing start, but a little distance from the project will give the perfect run up.
It can help to think of a whitepaper or pitch deck as a one-to-one conversation between a project team and a VC. Now imagine that this investor has already heard a very similar conversation 1,000 times before. That’s a reasonable assumption given that at one point, investment fund Pantera Capital was receiving 50 whitepapers a week – that’s 2,600 submissions a year. That huge disparity in experience between project team and VC becomes a superpower for the latter, allowing them to peer through the very code of the matrix and discern, seemingly at a glance, which projects are moon-bound and which are destined never to lift off.
There are some things in life, like a driving test, that you can retry until you finally get right. With an investor pitch, there’s no such luxury: one shot is all you get. That’s why you have to make that conversation count. A rambling whitepaper abstract or a clumsy opening slide is all it takes for an investor to pass on your project. If you want to keep the Panteras and Andreesen Horowitzs of the world rapt till their coffee’s turned cold, you’ll need to significantly up your pitch game. “Good enough” simply isn’t good enough – your investor docs have to be as close to perfect as humanly possible.
Find it, fix it
To remedy an issue, first you must first identify it. That begins by taking honest stock of where the documentation is currently at and zeroing in on areas that are holding it back. This is something that we’re particularly conscious of at AmaZix, since our writing process always begins with an assessment. This entails conducting a detailed examination of the documentation including the structure, format, business model, market overview, team description, partnerships, token model, sale structure, USPs, financials, technical details, competitor analysis, marketing plan and roadmap as well as narrative style, internal logic, design, writing style, spelling and grammar.
That’s a lot of ground to cover, but this painstaking analysis is vital to elevate the whitepaper and pitch deck to a level that will sway even the shrewdest of investors. Here are just five of the many areas that need to be addressed to kick the quality of your whitepaper and pitch deck up several notches.
Stories still matter. In the context of your investor documents, this doesn’t mean weaving a fantastical fairy tale in which the competition is vanquished and your token-holders prosper. Rather, it means assembling a compelling narrative in which information is presented in a logical and coherent manner.
Just as traditional tales begin with “Once upon a time” and end with a “happily ever after”, a modern whitepaper or pitch deck should follow its own set of narrative conventions. Just make sure that your investment narrative is based entirely on fact – not fiction.
Problem and solution
Before you can explain what you’re building, you have to explain why. Why is your product needed and why now? Begin by introducing a legitimate problem or marketplace gap that resonates with the reader. This deep-seated issue should be spun as a business opportunity, followed by a captivating account of why this project over all others is the ideal solution. First you raise the problem like an obstacle in the road: “Surveys have shown the shortage of fiat offramps to be the biggest barrier to cryptocurrency adoption.” Then you emphatically demolish it with your solution: “Acme Blockchain will make it easy for anyone to switch between fiat and crypto at the push of a button.”
There was once a time when simply stating that you were “tokenizing X” was enough to spark gas wars among investors desperate to snap up your ERC20 token. We call that time “2017”, and fun as it was, those wild west days are over. Deploying a native token as currency and expecting it to hold its value just won’t cut it any more. Nor will trying to pass a blatant security token off as a utility. Nor will… well, let’s not try to list all the don’ts or we’ll be here all day. Just know that if your token, as presented in your whitepaper and pitch deck, requires work, we’ll let you know. And if it requires a complete redesign, we’ll recommend the services of an experienced token modeling team.
Deciding the appropriate level of technical information for your whitepaper is a fine art that few project teams master. There’s a Goldilocks zone where technicality and accessibility are properly balanced. Not too nerdy, not too simplistic, but just right. For projects that entail moon math, a separate technical paper can be created to supplement the more investor-friendly whitepaper.
Just as how you dress defines the way people judge you, the way your investor docs look says a lot. A stunningly designed whitepaper won’t save a garbage project, but tasteful design can make a good project seem great. Make no mistake, appearances matter. Aesthetically pleasing docs will subconsciously raise the perceived legitimacy of your project several notches.
Aim for clean and contemporary, with consistent branding applied to color schemes, diagrams and typography throughout. This is particularly important with your pitch deck since, due to its visual nature, with a reliance on icons, charts and large typography, its efficacy hinges upon the quality of its design. To compete with the best, your documents have to look their best; there’s no way around it.
Why it matters
Everyone has at least one blind spot. We’re only human after all. Sometimes it’s the loudest singer at the karaoke who hits the fewest notes. In life we rely on our friends and family to tell us when that person is us. In business, that kind of partner is harder to find. Most project teams are too close to their baby to identify these problems themselves. Why are your whitepaper and pitch deck driving away investors? It comes down to expertise, experience, objectivity and finding a partner who is not only willing to point out when something isn’t right, but prepared to help you to find the solution.
AmaZix is the largest provider of full-service advisory to blockchain businesses. Our community management team has grown over 120 projects that have collectively raised more than $1.3B including Bancor, HDAC, Bankex, WePower and GoChain. Our analyst team has meticulously assessed over 300 projects and played a pivotal role in refining their token economics, whitepapers and other documents. In the process, we’ve built an unparalleled reputation built on trust, expertise and ethics.
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