We are a good one 47 pitch decks in our Pitch Deck Teardown series, and one feedback we’ve gotten many times is that it’s easy being a critic: What could We have done?
Well, we at EntertainmentCab+ aren’t one to shy away from a challenge. So for this week’s pitch deck teardown, we’re going to try something different.
About six months ago, we went through a pitch deck from a company called Supliful. We celebrated the pitch deck because it was very good, but we may have joked about it a bit because it was full of misspellings and other silliness. At its core, however, the deck was good.
So for this week’s teardown, I joined the team at Trulytell (with help from their designer, Jake Muller) to improve Supliful’s deck until it became the perfect pitch deck.
Okay, we didn’t quite get it 100% perfect. There are still some issues, and in this post we’ll break them apart to learn what could be improved and how we would do it.
We’re looking for more unique pitch decks to break down, so if you’d like to submit your own pitch decks here’s how to do it.
Slides into this deck
- Cover slide
- Traction slide
- Summary slide
- Problem slide
- What makes a great CPG brand slide
- Solution slide
- Product slide
- Case Study Slide
- Business model slide
- Market slide
- Predicate companies shift
- Competitor slide
- Testimony slide
- Team slide
- Question slide
- Operation plan slide
- Closing slide
The first five slides
We’re going to do it differently this week: I’m going to break down each slide in detail and explain why they work and what works on them. I will also explain what can be improved or where investors can ask difficult questions.
So we cover the first five slides here and we stick the remaining 15 behind the paywall. Yes, you absolutely must subscribe to EntertainmentCab+: Did I to call that we have nearly 50 sample pitch decks, complete with commentary, and another 30 to 40 articles breaking down every conceivable aspect of pitching and pitch decks?
If you’re a founder raising money, this is the most bang for your buck you’ll get. Go ahead, subscribe. It makes sense to.
With that out of the way, let’s do this!
Slide 1: cover slide
The opening slide does a lot of work to help investors determine if your startup is in thesis. This contains a number of core pieces of the company:
- It shows a summary of what the company is about (“the most advanced platform to help creators launch and run CPG brands”).
- It shows how much they raise ($1 million).
- It shows the fundraising goals (“grow to $13 million ARR at $2.4 million monthly GMV”).
- The photo illustrates what the company actually does: “Your design here”, together with an influencer.
- Reading between the lines, you realize this is a B2B2C company, assuming influencers and content creators are businesses.
What works on this slide: It clearly sets the pace for what is to come. It gives a lot of information that would allow an investor to quickly come to a “no” if the round size, industry, or general business idea doesn’t appeal to them.
What can be improved: This company is based in Riga, Latvia, in the northeastern part of Europe. That could “disqualify” it for many investors who have location as part of their investment thesis. We decided not to include that on this slide and made sure to use slide 2 (traction) to show what the company is currently doing. It might be a little sneaky, but we thought we didn’t want to unnecessarily penalize investors – let’s get them excited about the company and its potential!
We could also have specified that this is a B2B2C company, but we thought a savvy investor would figure that out given the info here.
We hope the image on this slide tells an important part of the story, but there may be better ways to illustrate Supliful’s core business model.
Finally, I thought about whether we should define what CPG (consumer packaged goods) stands for. But I figured if an investor had to google CPG there was no way they would invest in this space, so I left it as the slightly obscure TLA that it is.
Slide 2: Traction slide
What do you do when you have a company that has a few challenges with fundraising, but a lot of promising traction?
My take is always, if you have income, it means you’ve proven you can do the hardest part of building a startup. It almost doesn’t matter what else is wrong in the business, if you’re making sales, you’re on to something. Once you get a grip, the question becomes how much it costs to acquire new customers, what those customers are worth and how big the market is.
Opening with a traction slide requires you to explain what traction represents. This slide looks pretty simple, but it brings a lot of data: Sharp growth, some cumulative numbers and some nice indications of a company on a strong growth trajectory.
What works on this slide: There was a drop in sales, but the company turned out to have a good reason for this: it had to throw a trader off the site because he was dishonest. The drop in sales is bad, but by marking it with the arrow and providing an explanation, you can already take away the worries a lot. Sales also fell the month before, which is not being addressed, but the chart shows explosive growth in the six months after that.
Plus, I like how this chart shows revenue and not gross trade value (GMV). It would have been easy to “pump” the numbers by quoting GMV here, but the founders (and sophisticated investors) know that metrics mean little.
What can be improved: It could be argued that some of these statistics are vanity statistics. Cumulative gross income is tricky: yes, it’s important, but the growth curve is so steep that it skews a picture that isn’t actually in the company’s favor.
The figure “33% of orders are from subscribed customers” could use some explanation, but you have the opportunity to talk about how subscribed customers lead to recurring revenue with a voiceover.
Slide 3: Overview slide
I love starting early in the deck with a recap slide to set the pace. Here we conclude our three-slide introductory arc. It summarizes the value proposition for a maker (“it takes 15 minutes”), reminds investors that this company really has traction (average growth of 30% month-over-month), highlights early indicators of product-market fit, and sums up the product and market space by saying, “Having branded products is a huge opportunity.”
What works on this slide: Honestly, I’d probably exclude this slide from a forward deck and just copy and paste the mission statement and the four bullet points into an email to get a potential investor to open the stack. But I like to show clearly and simply why someone would want to keep reading and invest their $1 million.
What can be improved: There’s a damn typo on the slide! The cover slide and the financials show the company is raising $1 million, but it says $2 million.
As we worked through the operating plan (penultimate slide), we decided that the financials looked good enough that we only needed to raise $1 million and we changed it, but we forgot to change it here. Would it have been easy to go back and fix that and export the slide again? Yes, but I want to illustrate that mistakes are made even when there are many smart people trying to make the “perfect” pitch deck.
Slide 4: Problem slide
Every company needs a problem statement. Here Supliful explains that this market already exists but is not available to lower and middle class content creators and influencers.
Creating a consumer packaged goods brand is possible — you can white label or formulate your own — but getting a new product to market, then branding, manufacturing, and handling the logistics of shipping can be an expensive and time-consuming nightmare.
That’s the problem Supliful addresses, and the anxiety it relieves is nicely outlined at the bottom of the slide: What if I spent $25,000 and a year of my life creating something that isn’t worth the effort?
What works on this slide: Selling to allay a fear works very well. I like that the problem statement is concise (“time intensive and costly”) and gives us specific reasons why the process is difficult. Simple, clear and easy to understand.
What can be improved: Many investors have been bitten by companies trying to sell to influencers. It’s a very amorphous demographic that is relatively hard to sell. My concern here is whether an investor reading this slide might say, “So what?”
Another more important issue I have is the potential impact on the environment: “Do we really need more brands selling things?” But I suppose if that’s at the forefront of an investor, no pitch will change their mind.
Slide 5: What makes a CPG brand a great brand
This slide is a bit of a curveball because you rarely have to explain what a market is to explain your business.
However, the point here is that Supliful solves a very specific problem at the intersection of two industries: taking care of the product production, branding, and production is one industry, and taking care of billing, logistics, and the rest of the operational stack is another. . The companies on the left are well-known, successful brands in the former industry, and the companies on the right are successful logistics companies.
It’s an unusual slide to have on a pitch deck, but I love it because of this “perfect pitch deck” because it clearly illustrates that you’re not limited to the 15-16 slides that are typically recommended. If you need a slide or two to tell a part of the story specific to your company, industry, or market, go for it. Make sure you understand why you’re including it.
In my pitch coaching practice, I often have to ask my clients, “What are you trying to convey here?” and “Is there a way to tell this story on one of the ‘standard’ slides?” If you have a clear answer to the first question and a resounding “no” to the second, chances are you need to get a little creative with a less standard slide.
One caveat though: if you find yourself with four or five non-standard slides, there’s probably something wrong with the overall story or you’re delving too deep into the weeds.
What works on this slide: This slide plants the seed for some truly huge opportunities. The 3PL (Third Party Logistics) brands on the right are very successful businesses, and building on their huge following, the brands on the left are interesting market challengers to watch. Supliful is trying to convey that it is the “right” company to unlock these business models.
What can be improved: I suspect this story could be told without this slide, but I wanted to keep it in there so I could use it as an example.
In the rest of this article, we take our proverbial X-ray machine to the next one 15 slides of this card game.