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Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

Bloomberg TV

Reid Hoffman and LinkedIn recently published their Series B pitch deck from 2004.

It's from early in the company's history, before it was generating any revenue.

Now, LinkedIn is a publicly traded company that's worth billions.

The deck is full of invaluable advice and commentary from Hoffman, who reveals exactly how today's entrepreneurs should be pitching investors and what the investing climate was like when LinkedIn was still getting off the ground.

We pulled together the slides and some of Hoffman's best words of wisdom explaining the pitch deck.
 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

1. "In 2004, the consumer Internet was just beginning to rebound," writes Hoffman. "We had no revenue...Investors see a lot of pitches. First, understand your audience. Research prospective investors thoroughly. Second, understand the broader financing climate."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

2. "Open with your investment thesis, what prospective investors must believe in order to want to be shareholders of your company," says Hoffman.

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

3. "The general rule is one business model drives the business. It's tempting to list multiple revenue streams because you're trying to prove that you will be big. Yet when consumer Internet companies do this, investors generally see a red flag."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

4. "Steer into your investors' objections. There will be one to three issues that are potentially problematic for your financing -- address them head on."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

5. "Show, don't tell. Again, your pitching goals are to increase investors' confidence in your investment thesis and lead them to a shared view of your company's problems."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

6. "In the early days, you want to use analogies to successful outcomes to describe what your company is and what its potential could be."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

7. "Understand where analogies apply and where they do not. Pitch by analogy but don't necessarily reason by analogy."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

8. "When pitching by analogy, anchor your business to other valuable businesses to signal that your business will be valuable, too."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

9. "It's better to have no analogy than a bad one."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

10. "Any good idea has legitimate reasons why it won't work. In order to achieve real success, you need to be contrarian and right."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

11. "Your investment thesis is either concept-driven or data-driven. Which kind you are pitching?"

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

12. "LinkedIn's Series B was a concept pitch because our data at that point wasn't impressive."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

13. "One ingredient this pitch lacks, which I now think is essential to modern pitches, is our risk factors. Experienced investors know there are always risks."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

14. "Explicitly identify the risks that could thwart your success and how you will mitigate them. And instead of waiting until investors ask about your risks, share them proactively so you build trust."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

15. "Express your competitive advantage."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

16. "This is mostly a mistake slide because customer slides are more appropriate for enterprise pitches."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

17. "You want to show focus in your decks by emphasizing what you're really betting on. However, show some maneuverability."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

18. "It's always better to have less slides, but it's much more important to have a great deck. A great deck needs to address all important concerns and tell your story effectively."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

19. "When pitching VCs, think about the individual partner in the context of their partnership."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

20. "People frequently think the most fundamental strategy of a startup is its product strategy. In fact, the most fundamental strategy is the financing strategy."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

21. "Always think about the next round. The usual tempo for raising money from venture capital is at a minimum of a year between financings."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

22. "Reinforce key concepts when delivering a concept pitch...It's helpful (but not mandatory) to put your thesis in each of the titles."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

23. "Show a focus on bottom-up tactics for your strategy."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

24. "Show your product rather than saying you intend to build a best-of-breed product."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

25. "When in doubt, lead with what will make the most sense to investors."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

26. "It's more important to have the right person say yes than it is to have everyone say yes...How do you know if an investor will add value? Pay attention to whether they are being constructive during the financing process."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

27. "Internal data is preferable over anecdotal third party data...Also, be wary of confirmation bias. It's only natural that an entrepreneur wants to hear that their idea is great, but you don't want people telling you that because it doesn't help you."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

28. "Take competition against your potential revenue streams seriously" and "identify the right metrics for success."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

29. "Underpromise and overdeliver...Also show you're paying attention to the market."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

30. "One of the virtues that entrepreneurs get from talking to many investors during the financing process is a wisdom of crowds that helps you figure out what the real risks are."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

31. "Be decisive and ship...While it's important to think carefully about your future, don't think too far into the future."

 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

32. "Be wary of adjectives and especially adverbs."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

33. "Have reasonable numbers and assumptions that can pass the blink test during the pitch."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

34. "A successful financing process obviously results in you raising capital for your company, but it also results in a partnership that delivers benefits beyond just money."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

35. "You have the most attention from investors in the first 60 seconds of your pitch, so how you begin is incredibly important. One common mistake is putting the team slide early in the deck."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

36. "Approach your likely investors and your ideal investors at the same time, because your likely investors provide a temporal forcing function by which you might end up with your ideal investors."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

37. "It's okay to be hyperbolic, to be aggressive, to be visionary."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

38. "You should end on a slide that you want people to be paying attention to."

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

39. "You don't have to have an appendix, but if you anticipate serious questions from the kinds of investors you want, preparing appendix slides with structured answers is impressive."