A lot of pitch decks I review have a slide that really shouldn’t be there: the exit strategy slide. Your slide deck should only have an exit strategy slide if you’re running a very late-stage company that’s about to IPO, and even then, you probably wouldn’t have it as a slide on a funding deck but as a whole, separate IPO plan. As an early-stage startup, it’s downright nonsensical, and it shouldn’t be part of your pitch deck at all.
To a lot of founders, an exit — or a “liquidity event,” as the legal buffs tend to refer to it — is the big pot of gold at the end of a very long and arduous journey. The same goes for investors; when there’s an acquisition or a public listing, that’s how everyone gets paid. Moreover, some of the old pitch deck templates that are floating around on the internet have an exit strategy slide on them, so it makes sense that people are still making this mistake.
Two things are true: One is that the best companies are bought, not sold. It’s unlikely that you know in advance exactly who will be interested in buying your company. Second, your job as a founder is to build the best company you possibly can.
Making decisions early on to help shape the company into something someone might want to buy simply doesn’t make sense; it makes you blind to some of the other options and opportunities that might present themselves.