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Former Early-Stage Investor Charlie O'Donnell shares the Top 5 things wrong with Pitch Decks.

For 20 years, Charlie has been a mainstay in the New York City startup and innovation community–starting as the first analyst at Union Square Ventures after working in the General Motors pension fund’s venture capital and private equity group. He went on to help First Round Capital open up its NYC office in 2009, where he sourced investments in GroupMe, Singleplatform, Moat, and Backupify, among others.

In 2012, he started Brooklyn Bridge Ventures–the first venture capital fund based in Brooklyn– and funded over 100 local startup companies, including Hungryroot, Petal Card, Brigit, Shortcut, Radformation, and Imagen, while also building a reputation for being the most accessible early-stage investor in New York.

Brooklyn Bridge Ventures made its final investment in early 2023, resulting in a portfolio where 40% of the companies were female-founded, 30% have a BIPOC founder, and 9% have a Black founder, reflecting the diversity of the city’s entrepreneurial workforce and the firm’s dedication to inclusivity.

You can find more of Charlie's writing at

1. No hook. I saw 2,000 things in a year and simply didn't have time for anything that didn't make me think something special was going on right off the bat.

2. Too deep on the team and their story. Are you Jack Dorsey? Sara Blakely? No? Ok, so you're just smart, hardworking people with not particularly unique backgrounds? Then, sell me on the idea first before I figure out whether I need to know your life story.

3. Overstating the difficulty of things. Sorry, but it's really not that hard to figure out what to do in NYC or to find a person to play pickleball with or to figure out how to trade stocks.

4. Four quadrant chart with an arbitrary axis that doesn't make any sense that proudly displays your company in the top right. Please, no.

5. You literally never say this is going to be a successful company making lots of money. What's the biggest revenue number you share in the deck? In two years, you'll make $5mm? And then what? Move to Fiji? I'm discounting that anyway... so, in my mind, this is a $3.5mm lifestyle business unless you literally state your intention otherwise.


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