How To Prevent Investors From Forwarding Your Pitch Deck (2023)

I recently had a client ask me this question, “How do I prevent investors from forwarding my pitch deck to my competitors?”. We’d finished putting together a stellar pitch deck that accurately conveyed their awesome business concept/company. I detailed how they were doing things differently than all of their competitors and made clear the unique value that they were bringing to the table.

If you’re seeking funding, you’re going to need to share these things with potential investors. They need to know why your company is a good investment opportunity. How they can be more confident that that investment will yield returns? You have a great, unique, defensible business of course! But that information can feel scary to share. What if they steal the idea? What if they tell other founders in competitive businesses about it? How should I be protecting my pitch deck? What if they forward your pitch deck and all of your most special and important secrets to the world?

Protecting Your Pitch Deck

In some ways this is a reasonable fear. You’ll be sharing really detailed information about various aspects of your company and strategies. It is normal to feel like (a) these strategies are why you are and will be successful, and (b) that it would be very detrimental if the got in the wrong hands.

In other ways though, this may not be a reasonable fear. It is usually the case that the people with the right strategies AND the right execution are the ones that succeed. Not just with the strategies. It’s the team’s hard work, blood and sweat, pounding the pavement, key connections and partnerships, that really make a business successful. Also, if someone had your idea, your strategy and plan, would they even want or have the time or drive to do it? Investors certainly don’t. They are not in the business of starting businesses, they are in the business of investing in businesses. They are looking for good deals, good opportunities, and fun ideas to back. Not to run.

(Video) Mistakes To Avoid When Creating Your Pitch Deck

All of that said, ok, so you want to protect your valuable information as much as you can while seeking funding, right? Here’s how to do it. You have a couple of options of varying degrees of effectiveness for controlling the share-ability and confidentiality of your pitch deck.

Send as a PDF

First off, in protecting your pitch deck, always send your pitch deck as a PDF. This should be a no-brainer. Never send a PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides document to anyone outside of your company (except your designer of course). You do not want anyone to have access to the root data behind all of your slide, charts, graphs, etc. Worst case scenario: with the source files, someone could go so far as to change the logo and color of your deck and pass if off as their own. Never send the .PPT file!

Another big reason why not to send the PowerPoint is compatibility. You do not know the machine (PC or MAC), the Microsoft Office version on their computer, or the fonts they have on their machine. If any of these is different than yours, it can make images in your slide deck wonky and text unreadable. The solution is to only send your pitch deck as a pdf. You’ll likely design your pitch deck (like we do) in a slide design tool like PowerPoint, but when you are done, you should save the file as a .pdf before sending as an attachment to an email.

Now unfortunately, whenever you do send something as an attachment (like a pdf) there is not much you can do to prevent the forwarding saving or sharing of that attachment.

(Video) How to pitch investors: the Startup Pitch, Pitch Deck and Pitch Techniques

Written Requests

One way many founders try to protect themselves and their company is through legal language and confidentiality notices. Some founders add a confidentiality notice slide in the deck itself; this often includes legal jargon covering the validity of the projections and securities related disclosures (ie: relating to FINRA Rule 2210 and the SEC). You can also add confidentiality and “do not forward” notices in the footnote on each of the slides. Though, if you’re curious about the enforce-ability of these kinds of disclosures, speak with your lawyer.

In the emails you send with your pitch deck attached, you can write “do not forward” or other similar requests to your recipients for protecting your pitch deck. But in the end, these are really just requests and cannot guarantee that the people that get your deck in their hands will follow them.

Pitch Deck Hosting

The only way I know of to ensure that no one forwards your deck, is to host your deck using a deck/file hosting platform. In these cases, you would share links with your potential investors rather than the file itself. There are a lot of different tools that allow you to do this. And they all vary in features, price, and how “locked down” you can make your deck.

Some of the better known options:

(Video) How To Send A Pitch Deck To Investors

How To Prevent Investors From Forwarding Your Pitch Deck (1)

Pitch XO

We often recommendPitchXOto our clients in protecting pitch decks; and we have even helped clients set up their profiles on the platform. Pitch XO lets you send custom access links and see which of your invitees have logged in, what they looked at and for how long. The tool is nice because it allows you to create a whole series of tailored, branded webpages, and you can upload a number of different files. You also are able to restrict access to certain files to certain people and get feedback from your mentors on pitch deck iterations. It’s pretty seamless and user friendly to both you and your investors. The only real downside is expense, and there is always a chance you’ll turn-off some investors who don’t like links and prefer files.

How To Prevent Investors From Forwarding Your Pitch Deck (2)

Slide Bean and

These two are very similar in my opinion. They both are not exactly made for pitch deck hosting per say, but they can solve that need. Both were primarily built as online PowerPoint competitors that have increased collaboration. I find these tool much less robust that PowerPoint and other more traditional slide design tools.

Slide bean focuses heavily on templates >>See what I think about template here<<< And is more focused on sharing and feedback. Both have an interesting “live presentation” feature for remote presenting built in. They also both allow you to password protect or restrict your files and see metrics on how much people have read and how long they spent on certain slides. Though this is only in aggregate not for individual viewers like with Pitch XO. For some of the tracking and password protect features they do cost a monthly fee. Surprise surprise! So again, the only real downside is expense, and there is always a chance you’ll turn-off some investors who don’t like links and prefer files.

How To Prevent Investors From Forwarding Your Pitch Deck (3)

Dropbox / Box / Other file sharing

If you currently use Dropbox or Box or another file sharing platform, it can be a good option for hosting your pitch deck. It hosts all of your other files sharable by a link, why not your deck? Depending on the level or your subscription and the features of your file sharing platform, you may or may not have password protection, individual access granting rights, or download restrictions. These tools usually don’t give you view history or metrics either. It also can feel slightly less professional to send your files through these tools.

(Video) The Secret To Presenting Your Pitch Deck Financials

How To Prevent Investors From Forwarding Your Pitch Deck (4)

Gust, Angel List, F6S

These are great tools for founders seeking funding for their startup. All three offer an opportunity for entrepreneurs to create a profile and share information about their company to investors at large. These sites, to my knowledge are more about sharing your files that protecting them. They may not be what you’re looking for if you’re concerned about privacy. That said, they are all worth checking out for their other valuable features for fund raising, startup management, filings, incorporation assistance, posting jobs, finding cofounders, and applying to accelerator programs etc.

The Value in Deck Forwarding

Don’t forget though, that there is some value in having a deck that CAN be easily forwarded. The investor community is a small one. Venture capital firms know trusted Angels investors that they send deals to when a startup is too early in their life cycle for the VC. Investors who focus in certain fields or industries, may know other investors who are interested in your business’ industry even if they aren’t. Even when an investor is on board, they may want to connect you to a friend that they think should also get in on the deal with them. All of which is much smoother for your protecting your pitch deck to the investor when your deck is in a forwardable format.

The better question may be, is your deck forward-able? Does you pitch deck excite and interest your investors, does it accurately and engagingly tell the story of your startup? Is it professional? If not, we may be able to help. Need things fine tuned or preparing for a big live pitch? Let’s schedule a pitch review and coaching session. Need a full overhaul of the visuals and flow of your pitch deck itself? Our custom pitch deck design packages may be a good fit.

Happy Pitching!

(Video) How & Why You Should End Your Pitch With Your Vision | Dose 012


Is it safe to share pitch deck? ›

You'll arm the competition.

Even a trustworthy investor could end up hacked by a bad guy willing to give away all your great ideas. Some slide-sharing services have security features, which can help, but the safest approach is to avoid sharing the pitch deck in the first place.

Are pitch decks confidential? ›

A pitch deck is personal, in the sense that it needs to be unique to the idea, the business, the company, and the company's need for funding — it's different for every single startup. It's also private, in that there should be a lot of confidential and sensitive information in a pitch deck.

Are investor decks confidential? ›

An investor deck is often sent prior to securing a meeting, so you will have a bit more text (again, not an excuse to clutter your slide)! These are anywhere from 10-20 slides, and they will include financials & confidential product information.

How do you protect a pitch deck? ›

First off, in protecting your pitch deck, always send your pitch deck as a PDF. This should be a no-brainer. Never send a PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides document to anyone outside of your company (except your designer of course).

How do you pitch an idea without it getting stolen? ›

If you determine that the invention is probably not patentable, the most effective way to protect yourself is to have prospective licensees sign a nondisclosure agreement before you reveal your invention. This document is sometimes called an "NDA" or a "confidentiality agreement," but the terms are similar.

What should you not do in a pitch deck? ›

The most common pitch deck mistakes and how to avoid them:
  • Too Much Information.
  • Not the Right Information.
  • Unclear Business Model.
  • Overestimating Market Share.
  • Not Demonstrating Ability to Execute.
  • Not Stating Your Ask.
  • Not Including Contact Information.

Should you copyright a pitch deck? ›

Copyright is certainly important, and can serve as a first step, but it is really important to understand that certain important parts of any television series pitch deck are not protected by copyright law.

How many pages should pitch deck have? ›

Simply put, a competitive pitch deck should include 10 slides, be no more than 20 minutes long, and should only include up to 30 points.

How a pitch deck is sent to investors? ›

In an ideal situation, you will deliver the full pitch deck in person at a meeting in the future. There is a clear through-line here from your initial contact with a VC firm, often by email, to the investor deck, and then finally to the full pitch.

What do investors look for in a pitch deck? ›

The pitch deck should include details of who the people behind your business are, the problem you are trying to solve, your product or service which acts as the solution to that problem, traction, the current market and your competitors, as well as details of your business model and how any successful investment will ...

What financials should be in a pitch deck? ›

Financial Data in Pitch Decks Should Include Income, Expenses, and Business KPIs. These slides must succinctly outline the financial health of a company while projecting revenue potential in the future. Our research revealed the key metrics that investors are expecting to see and how they're expecting to see them.

How long should a pitch deck be? ›

While pitch decks vary in size, the average length is 12 to 14 slides (and never longer than 20), with each slide presenting one clear idea. Although its order can change depending on how you wish to tell your story, the general slides to include are: 1. Company vision.

How long should a startup pitch be? ›

there's no “rule” governing the length of a new business pitch, decades of evidence support the 18-minute rule. Keep your presentation to 18 minutes or less and let your audience decide how much further they want to take it.

How do you protect an idea before sharing it? ›

The simple answer is: file a provisional patent application before you publicly share, sell, or disclose any details. Provisional patents in particular are a cost-effective, low fidelity (you don't have it all figured out yet) approach to protecting your idea, while securing the earliest possible filing date.

How can I protect my idea? ›

The five essential legal tools for protecting ideas are patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade dress unfair competition laws, and trade secrets. Some of these legal tools can also be used creatively as marketing aids, and often more than one form of protection is available for a single design or innovation.

How do I get someone to invest in my business idea? ›

Here are our top 5 ways to find investors for your small business:
  1. Ask Family or Friends for Capital.
  2. Apply for a Small Business Administration Loan.
  3. Consider Private Investors.
  4. Contact Businesses or Schools in Your Field of Work.
  5. Try Crowdfunding Platforms to Find Investors.

Do angel investors steal ideas? ›

What I can assure you is active angel club investors and venture capital funds are not likely to steal your ideas and morph into your main competition. The purpose of startup and early stage investors are to fund high-potential companies like yours, not operate them.

Can a VC steal your idea? ›

Venture capital is a people business, so get it out of your mind that VCs are going to steal your idea. A venture capital firm that regularly shares your idea or plan with other entrepreneurs will not stay in business long. Eventually good entrepreneurs will not trust them. Plus VCs are investors, not operators.

What is a poor man's patent? ›

A poor man's patent is essentially writing out a description of your invention and then mailing that written description to yourself. This postmarked envelope supposedly acts to create the date of your invention as the date this written description was postmarked.

How long does it take to write a pitch deck? ›

Conclusion. Often it may take two to three months of creation, presentation and feedback, and revision to create a pitch deck that truly stands out. You have to make the pitch deck interesting and short to capture the attention span. Though some can create a powerful deck in hours.

Can you sell a show idea to Netflix? ›

Unfortunately, we cannot and do not accept or review any materials (whether manuscripts, treatments, scripts, drawings, ideas, pics of rainbow-colored unicorns, etc.)

How can agencies protect artwork during a pitch process? ›

Copyright will automatically exist in all literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works. So, for example, any original designs, drawings and illustrations you present on a pitch will be protected by copyright.

Can you patent a movie idea? ›

You cannot protect an idea. This is the whole point of copyright law. Your first task after coming up with a great idea for a movie is to write as detailed an account of your idea as possible.

What makes a good pitch presentation? ›

According to START UP, to make a good pitch you'll need to do three things: grab the attention of your audience. take them on a clear and logical journey. leave them with a compelling call to action.

What is the average time frame that an investor spends viewing the pitch deck? ›

According to research done by DocSend, investors spend on average 3 minutes and 44 seconds per pitch deck.

How long is a typical investment pitch? ›

Typically teams are given 5-10 minutes to pitch. In real life, this is the pitch for a pitch (if you give this pitch to a potential investor and spark their interest, you may earn 45 minutes with that same potential investor - that's the beginning of the real pitching process for that investor.)

What is the difference between pitch deck and investor deck? ›

You see, an investor deck puts most of its focus on the information investors need to make a decision about investing in your business, while a pitch deck's key message is all about getting an investor to be interested in your business in the first place.

How do you pitch an investor in under 2 minutes? ›

How To Pitch To Investors In Under 2 Minutes - YouTube

What should I send to investors? ›

The key documentation you want to send to the investor includes: The elevator pitch. The business plan.
A short and simple message.
  • What is the product or service your business is selling?
  • Who is your customer?
  • How does your product/service help this customer?
  • What is the problem your product/service solves?
2 Oct 2020

What should be the last slide of a pitch deck? ›

I put the Milestones Slide as the very last slide in any pitch deck. Just leave it up on the screen when you're done presenting and it will support exactly the conversation with you want to have with potential investors.

What are milestones in pitch deck? ›

The milestone slide is a great way to show that you can get stuff done, but also to get attention about how you will use the invested funds for the next steps. It helps the investor to understand in which direction you are going and to get an idea of whether you will need additional funding or not.

How do you deliver a successful pitch? ›

When delivering your pitch, try to implement the following techniques:
  1. Speak clearly and make the presentation engaging. ...
  2. Involve the audience. ...
  3. Be enthusiastic and believe in the idea. ...
  4. Use body language to show enthusiasm. ...
  5. Try not to be anxious or overact. ...
  6. Watch professional presentations and identify their strengths.

Does a pitch deck get investors attention? ›

Attract an investor's attention and keep it

Elevator pitches can be hard because start-ups don't have a platform for talking about their products. Instead, they have to squeeze it into a conversation. Introducing a problem question related to the product is one way to get on the right track and engage the investor.

What makes a standout pitch that engages the investors attention? ›

Your pitch should be concise but detailed; informative but persuasive; and most of all, memorable. The pitch you create should detail the story of your business – who the market is, what problems they face, what your solution is, and why your solution is the right solution.

What are the two types of pitch decks? ›

5 Main Types of Pitch Decks
  • Startup Pitch. Pin it. Owning a startup means that you will have to deliver a compelling message to secure potential investment opportunities. ...
  • Team Pitch. Pin it. ...
  • Vision-Opportunity Pitch. Pin it. ...
  • Problem-Solution Pitch. Pin it. ...
  • Traction Pitch. Pin it.
16 Sept 2020

What do investors look for in financial statements? ›

Investors will want to see information that indicates the current financial status of the business. Usually they will expect to see current reports such as a profit and loss statement, a balance sheet and a cash flow statement as well as projections for the next two or three years.

How do startups get financial projections? ›

Here are the steps to create your financial projections for your start-up.
  1. Project your spending and sales. ...
  2. Create financial projections. ...
  3. Determine your financial needs. ...
  4. Use the projections for planning. ...
  5. Plan for contingencies. ...
  6. Monitor.

How many slides should an investor pitch have? ›

It's quite simple: a pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. This rule is applicable for any presentation to reach an agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc. Ten slides.

How do you make a winning pitch deck? ›

8 Great Tips For Creating A Winning Pitch Deck For Your Startup
  1. Follow the famous 10/20/30 rule. ...
  2. Start with an Elevator Pitch slide. ...
  3. Include a demo. ...
  4. Talk about the market opportunity. ...
  5. Talk about how you make money. ...
  6. Include graphical elements. ...
  7. Dive into the finer points. ...
  8. Deliver with passion and excitement.

Why must a presentation have 10 slides? ›

Ten slides.

According to Guy, it's important to keep the slides to only ten because this is how you boil down the most important and impactful information — without creating a boring presentation that investors have seen a thousand times over.

How do you pitch a startup in 3 minutes? ›

How to Pitch your Startup in 3 Minutes - YouTube

What is pivot in startup? ›

A startup pivot, or business pivot, occurs occurs when a company shifts its business strategy to accommodate changes in its industry, customer preferences, or any other factor that impacts its bottom line.

How do you sell an idea to a company without them stealing it? ›

You can sell an idea to a company without a patent. You need a way to stop them from stealing the idea from you. One way to do that without a patent is with a nondisclosure agreement, aka NDA. The NDA would limit the company's ability to use your idea without paying you for it.

How do I protect my start up ideas? ›

How do I protect my startup idea, you may ask. Intellectual property gives you the control and ownership of any type of ideas or knowledge that you have.
Types of intellectual property
  1. Patents are used for inventions.
  2. Trademarks are used for brand identity.
  3. Copyrights are used for any ideas that are expressed.
3 Jun 2020

How do I copyright an idea? ›

How do I protect my idea? Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.

Can a manufacturer steal your idea? ›

Ideas alone are not protected under intellectual property law. There are two primary ways that you would be able to sue the company for stealing your idea. The first is if you did, in fact, reduce the idea to a protectable form before telling the company about it.

Do companies pay for ideas? ›

Many inventors choose to sell their ideas to companies for royalties rather than a one-off payment, especially if the concept is especially promising, as royalties can often end up allowing them to earn much more over a longer period (passive income). As a result, many companies offer this as an option to inventors.

How much does it cost to patent an idea? ›

A patent attorney will usually charge between $8,000 and $10,000 for a patent application, but the cost can be higher. In most cases, you should budget between $15,000 and $20,000 to complete the patenting process for your invention.

How do I stop someone from copying my business? ›

4 Ways to Guard Your Business Against Copycats
  1. Copyright. For those who want to protect any original work of authorship, such as a literary work, performing art, visual art, photograph, motion picture or digital content, consider filing for copyright protection. ...
  2. Trademark. ...
  3. Patents. ...
  4. Non-disclosure agreement.

How can an idea creative work be protected? ›

If an idea is fixed in a tangible form and demonstrates a spark of creativity, it could be protected by copyright. While it's impossible to protect an idea alone, you can protect the creative expression of an idea under copyright.

What can you do if someone copies your business? ›

If you come across a copycat company or business owner, contact them directly. Call them and speak calmly with those in charge. Let them know that you are aware that they are copying your product and that you don't appreciate it.

What do investors look for in a pitch? ›

The pitch deck should include details of who the people behind your business are, the problem you are trying to solve, your product or service which acts as the solution to that problem, traction, the current market and your competitors, as well as details of your business model and how any successful investment will ...

How do you pitch an investor in under 2 minutes? ›

How To Pitch To Investors In Under 2 Minutes - YouTube

Do copyright laws protect ideas? ›

Ideas: Copyright protects the expression of an idea but does not extend to the idea itself. Until an idea is expressed in a fixed form (i.e. paper, electronic or digital media), there is no copyright protection.

Can I patent an idea without a prototype? ›

Many inventors wonder if they need a prototype prior to patenting an invention. The simple answer is “no'. A prototype is not required prior to filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent Office. While prototypes can be valuable in developing your invention, they can also be costly.

Why are ideas not copyrightable? ›

Ideas. Ideas can not be copyrighted because they are not fixed into a tangible medium of expression. For a work to be copyrighted, it has to be written down, saved to a hard drive or somehow otherwise fixed.


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