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Here’s how these popular pitch decks would fare if they tried to raise seed capital in 2020

It used to be that a good-idea-turned-PowerPoint was enough to get some amount of funding, but this is not the case in 2020. These pitch deck examples wouldn't cut it in 2020 — and we'll tell you why.
pitch decks

It’s never been easy to fundraise, but what it takes to raise has definitely changed. Seven to ten years ago, a MVPP (minimum viable PowerPoint) was enough to get you into a room with investors. But as companies have become more sophisticated, VC expectations have changed. There’s also been a boom in the number of startups looking for funding. Like it or not, you’re competing with every other founder out there for that next check. Pitch decks have become one of the most important aspects to getting you that initial meeting. Let’s face it — it’s unlikely this is the first time investors have seen your idea…maybe even this week. We took the original pitch decks of some startups that went on to become tech giants and household names and ran them through our Pitch Deck Analyzer. Read on to see how each of these pitch decks scored and to find out what each one did well and what they would need to improve if they were to try to get funded in 2020.

Facebook’s pitch deck

Pitch deck score: 50%

 

What the deck did well:

  • Effective product slides. This deck included slides that showed their actual product and didn’t go overboard on information, which some founders tend to do when talking about the specifics of their product. Most importantly, they tied the product functionalities to the problem they highlighted.
  • Good use of transition slides. They used these slides as they are meant to be used — to enhance their narrative and create natural pauses — while also using them to show traction with the media.
  • Purposeful use of information. The deck didn’t have the exact number of slides that our research suggests is optimal (20), but the information they included within their 24 slides was portrayed clearly and concisely — everything had a purpose, and there was no fluff.

What the deck would need to improve to secure funding in 2020:

  • Less time and space on traction. Facebook (or thefacebook.com, as it was then called) did have quite a bit of traction for the stage the company was in, so it’s not totally wrong that they leaned on that. But if they were pitching now, it would be best to condense this information into fewer slides.
  • More slide categories. One example is a “Why Now?” slide to let investors know exactly why now is the right time for them to invest their money. They would also need to include a team slide — that contact page with Eduardo’s face wouldn’t cut it. A good team slide now includes photos of the founding team, bios relevant to their roles, and LinkedIn profiles.
  • A better narrative. There are so many companies now that have traction — investors want more information to let them know why any given company is a sound investment.

Uber’s pitch deck

Pitch deck score: 43%

 

What the deck did well:

  • A good idea with a clear understanding of the market. For Uber’s original deck, they had a clear idea of what they wanted the product to be and had a clear idea of the market. They spent a lot of time on this in the deck. Their ideas were good, and they conveyed them relatively clearly and concisely.
  • A clear problem and solution. One of the major strengths of this deck is that they had a good understanding of the problem and the solution, which is always really important. They drove these points home, and since there wasn’t much competition at the time, investors were able to see the clear need for this solution.

What the deck would need to improve to secure funding in 2020:

  • Better organization with a clear line of thought. Looking through this deck, you get the sense that there are simply a lot of ideas. Luckily, the strengths above served Uber well, because the deck really didn’t have much of a narrative. And these days, if you have 25 slides in your deck, you’d better have a good sense of your story. Investors see so many pitch decks with viable ideas nowadays that they want more from a deck than Uber got away with.
  • More slide categories. The deck is missing a lot of the sections that are considered fundamental in 2020. There was no mention of “Why Now,” the team, nor a fundraising ask (although the ask is always something that should be thought through strategically).
  • More thought into how to work certain slides into the deck. The slides themselves are sparse on information and seem to be someone’s stream of consciousness. For example, the slide titled “Marketing Ideas” has good ideas, but it would’ve been better to weave these ideas into the Solution and Business Model slides.

Airbnb’s pitch deck

Pitch deck score: 36%

 

What the deck did well:

  • A straightforward message. This deck managed to get a message across, despite being really short. Even though the deck was only 11 slides, it was very clear, straightforward, and visually appealing. They took advantage of the time that investors would spend on their deck. This is important now, because investors spend less than 4 minutes total pitch decks.
  • A clear product section. Again, albeit sparse, the product section of this deck was clear and explained what the product actually does. They didn’t go overboard highlighting all the bells and whistles that the product offers. They kept it simple, as product section should be.
  • Being deliberate about what to include. Generally, this is an example of a pitch deck with an idea that is good and straightforward enough that they managed to get by with few words and few slides. But these days, it’s best to offer investors more information. Airbnb’s deck is a good lesson in being deliberate with what you put in your deck.

What the deck would need to improve to secure funding in 2020:

  • More slide categories. Despite being clear and straightforward, this deck receives a low score because it’s missing a lot of important information. There’s no “Why Now?” slide or team slide. In 2020, these slides are essential. This is how investors know who they have the opportunity to work with and why it’s important to start now.
  • More slides overall. This is a major weakness of the deck, and it’s another case where they’re lucky this idea was relatively new at the time. Unless you have a completely groundbreaking idea, it’s best to offer more information than Airbnb did in their original deck. Even then, the harsh truth is that your idea is likely not as groundbreaking as you think, so it’s best to use those other sections to let investors know why your idea is different — and better.

Foursquare’s pitch deck

Pitch deck score: 48%

 

What the deck did well:

  • Smart use of slide categories to show the product. They thought clearly about how they would use their slides to convey their narrative. They showed the product throughout the deck. What’s good about this approach is that it’s easy to see how the product directly affects their solution. That said, ultimately, they showed their product a little too much — the screenshots start to lose their luster.
  • Easily digestible. They had a clear idea of the narrative the deck was meant to tell, and they did so effectively. The structure made sense, and there was a good amount of words per slide.

What the deck would need to improve to secure funding in 2020:

  • More slide categories. This deck was also one that didn’t include a “Why Now?” slide or a team slide. In 2020, this deck would need to include these slides. This would also likely solve the problem of having the product on too many slides.
  • Hone in on important major points. Though the deck was easy to understand and there was a clear narrative, some of the important points still got lost within that narrative. For example, market share and competition slides should be very easy to delineate (perhaps using visuals). This did not happen in Foursquare’s deck.
  • Remove or reorganize superfluous slides. This deck had a slide at the end labeled “Trivia.” While we can’t say for sure that you shouldn’t add “fun” or miscellaneous slides to your deck, this slide actually wasn’t trivia — it contained what would now be considered essential information about the founding team, the product, and the market. If including slides like this, they need to be intentional and less of an afterthought.

Tinder’s pitch deck

Pitch deck score: 33%

 

What the deck did well:

  • Clear problem and solution. The biggest strength of this deck is the clarity of the problem and the solution. They showed it in a way that was creative and could easily grab investors’ attention. That said, it did take several slides to make a point that they could’ve made in fewer slides. But, they made their point nonetheless.
  • Conservative use of screenshots. They included a good amount of product screenshots and didn’t go overboard with them.

What the deck would need to improve to secure funding in 2020:

  • More slide categories and information in general. The strengths outlined above are pretty much a description of the entire 10-page deck, save for a single “Revenue Opportunity” page at the end. Especially since there are countless dating apps now, they would need to add more in order to get a meeting.
  • More explanations. The problem and solution are clear, but there is no information beyond simply identifying them. Also, a lot of decks tend to take up slides with just visuals. It’s the founder’s job to make it clear what they mean. Tinder’s deck definitely could’ve done a better job of this. Explaining how the screenshots tie back to the problem and the solution would’ve been a good way to go.

Castle’s pitch deck

Pitch deck score: 53%

 

What the deck did well:

  • A clear story. One of the best things about this deck is that not only is it clear what each slide is meant to convey, but they are also strung together in a cohesive narrative.
  • Visual appeal. Castle’s pitch deck uses a good number of words per slide. They’re organized in a way that gives enough information while being easily digestible. Overall, being visually appealing in this way removes a lot of barriers to comprehension in your deck, which is a good thing.

What the deck would need to improve to secure funding in 2020:

  • A better team slide. While the current one contributes to the story, they would still need to have individual bios and LinkedIn profiles. The decks in our pre-seed research averaged 80 words per Team slide — you want to let them know why you’re the best person to build the company you’re building.
  • A “Why Now?” slide. There are so many startups nowadays that investors want to know what the urgency is to invest in yours over any others that they have the option to invest in.

Mint’s pitch deck

Pitch deck score: 47%

 

What the deck did well:

  • Business model. The creators of this deck clearly wanted to show investors how they were going to make money. The business model and GTM strategies are very clearly laid out.
  • Defensible moat. Mint was clearly worried about the competition. There are several slides here dedicated not only to how they’re different, but also to how they’re going to defend against some big players moving into their territory.

What the deck would need to improve to secure funding in 2020:

  • Outlining the problem for the customer. This deck goes goes to a lot of trouble to show who their competitors are and how they’re going to offer value for partners, but they only spend one slide showing any benefits to their customers. A good deck should highlight a clear problem at the beginning of their deck and show how they’re going to solve it.
  • Where’s the product? While it used to be common for companies to raise with an MVPP (minimum viable PowerPoint), our research finds that’s no longer the case. Investors are no longer interested in funding product development. They want at least an alpha or beta version of the product before they invest in a startup.

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