This is a pet peeve of mine, but I cringe whenever I see an entrepreneur make a presentation and proudly say that the team has a “combined 40 years of experience.” What they are doing, obviously, is adding the years of experience of each member into a grand total.
Most entrepreneurs put that number on their pitch decks as a way to show off. They want to appear as savvy people who have been around for quite some time. Unfortunately, they come off as amateur because it’s a useless number and everyone knows it. Don’t believe me?
What does “a combined 40 years of experience” actually mean? Four team members with ten years each? Two team members with 20 years each? Ten team members with four years each? One team member with 20 years and two with ten? You get the gist. It’s meaningless. Experience does not add like that.
If you still don’t believe it, let me ask you a question. Let’s say that your city’s temperature today is 70F. A neighboring city is slightly warmer and has a temperature of 80F. Would you say that they have combined temperatures of 150F? No, it would be ridiculous because temperature does not work that way. Neither does experience.
Is there a better way?
If you want to show off your team’s experience in a pitch deck or business plan, you are better off averaging the numbers. So you could say that the team has an average experience of X years in the industry. And if a member is very experienced you could mention them specifically. For example, you could say:
- The team has an average of ten years of experience
- Jon Doe, our founder, is a 20-year industry veteran
That tells me that they have a savvy team led by someone who has been around the block. That’s a useful data point, it’s specific, and it inspires more confidence than just adding all the numbers.