“What’s this?”, she asked as we pulled up by her driveway after a night out.
The stack of paper was right by the passenger seat. The cover indicated that it’s a business plan for an e-commerce startup.
“Oh, it’s just a run-of-the-mill pitch deck. For the new startup I was telling you about. You know, the Gilt-for-the-Philippines idea,” I replied. “Want to check it out?”
It was the first quarter of 2011, and I was building two important things: a startup and a relationship.
A few months after we met, I knew we had the proverbial “product-market fit”. This MVP was gonna be far from minimum. And I’m not talking about the startup.
She and I:
- share the same values, anchored around a strong desire to find meaningful work and an intrinsic need to make a difference
- experienced our fair share of professional and personal struggles
- enjoy learning so much from each other
- are very rational in our approach to life, problems, and work,
- are actually quite weird – weirdness which is often too much for public consumption
So how does one a impress a girl who is highly intelligent, self-aware, analytical and data-driven?
With a pitch deck, of course.
“Sure,” she says. “I actually want to see how a business plan looks like.” It was, after all, very new to her. She’s been in the corporate world for just a few months.
We sat in the dining room. I saw her eyes glow when she saw the charts, mixed with an instantaneous look of confusion and delight on her face when she realized that the deck wasn’t about the startup.
It was about us. And this is the true story of how I got the woman who eventually became my partner to say yes – using powerpoint slides. (spoiler alert: cheesiness ahead. Get out now)
I started with a broad view of the “market”. She quickly leaned over the desk, looking at each single detail, mentally verifying the implicit claims of which attributes were ‘hers’, ‘his’, and ‘ours’. (Some personal details blotted out for this post, naturally)
Of course, it wasn’t just enough to prove there was an intersection. I needed to show that the intersection was optimal.
To prove that I wasn’t just pulling her leg, I needed to show that my sample size was sufficient to make the conclusion that she is awesome. (Her real name masked with the alias ‘My Dream Chihuahua’).
Of course, I needed to sell my product attributes to the customer, and made the case that these were attributes she valued. (Looking back, I’m not so sure about the rating on the ‘Needs to Grow Up’ metric, but hey, what the hell.)
But I needed to be transparent on the downside. Given her three characteristics, there is empirical evidence that I am indeed an asshole.
I wanted to show that despite the short time we knew each other, quantity was not a driver of the quality of our interactions.
Like any good pitch deck, this one needed forward looking statements.
And finally, the customer value proposition + call to action.
95% of women would likely give me a confused or disgusted look for pulling this off (“How unromantic!”). After all, the 95% probably prefer roses to R-squared’s. But hey, it worked. And maybe that’s what sets her apart.
So why am I sharing this? Because I’m proud to say that no deal, pitch deck, or investment offering can ever make me as rich as this one did. And I hope you find that one pitch to rule them all too.
Happy Valent…. ah hell, enough with the romance. Back to work. To erase the cheesiness from memory: just read this.