How to say no to PDFs

We create pitch decks on a regular basis, and we like to send out the links to them. They contain our confidential company information and so of course we wouldn’t want to just write it all up and send it out per email into Nirvana.

That’s why investors have to use their social login ( e.g. LinkedIn or AngelList ) to see them. But sometimes we get this specific reply…

“Just send me a PDF”

And panic sets in. Are you going to do it, or is it worth fighting over this?

1. Saying ‘No’ is OK

As long as you have a reason. An anecdote here is one of our customers who uploaded his PDFs and tracked them with a link shortening service like linkfire or

When he sent out the link to his confidential pitch, it was opened over 300 times from around the globe. “Just send me a PDF?” “No, thank you.”

2. Would you send a FAX as well?

People love to replicate what they are used to. In the same manner we still handle business with investment firms or venture funds who fax or courier documents across the globe – instead of simply using Echo Sign. That’s when we say ‘No’ as well – get on with the times.

3. Compromise

If you’re cold-calling an investor, you will sometimes have to compromise to awaken interest. A good compromise is to have a short-deck prepared.

7-8 slides that you can send out, without your internal business metrics and which won’t bother you by becoming public or leaking to your competition. ( This happens more often than you imagine )

And then follow-up with, “If you’re interested in our business proposal and our current business metrics, please view the latest confidential information in our investor area”. Something, for something.

4. “I don’t want to use my social login”

This could be a legitimate concern, but it also can showcase a diminishing interest or trust in your business. Social providers like LinkedIn and AngelList were made exactly for that – business interactions and to identify business contacts on the web. Especially since it’s much harder to share, than sharing an email/password combination or a PDF password.

To summarize

Company internal documents are called ‘internal’ for a specific reason. Adding the word ‘confidential’ on a PDF – it has basically no meaning. Anything you send through Emails is deemed insecure.

So if you don’t have a trusting relationship with that potential investor, you might want to say “No, that’s not how we do business here”.