Learning from famous pitch decks can be dangerous! I'm seeing a lot of startups copy publicly available decks that 'made it,' assuming they must be good. Some are, some aren't!
In this article, I tear down Oso pitch deck and explain why you shouldn't copy what they did.
The article title that made me a bit angry
Let's start at the beginning. I found this deck in the article with the title (source):
"We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck developer startup Oso used to convince Sequoia to invest in its $8.2 million Series A"
While the article gives a nice background of the deal, its title is very misleading.
It's clickbait! They position it as if there is something special about the deck itself that founders could learn from.
What's actually special is the fact that Bill Coughran, a partner at Sequoia, already led Oso's seed round in 2019! In other words, Bill knows the company from the inside!
Now that's an 'unfair advantage' when fundraising!
Compared to Bill, the deck itself probably added little value to this fundraising process. That explains why the deck isn't that great. It doesn't have to be!
In this case, instead of optimising the deck, founders used their precious time elsewhere.
The slide deck teardown
Ok, let's see the slides. I'll use ⚠️ for tips and ✅ for tops.
Slide 1/ The cover slide
✅ It's clean, makes you think, "It'll probably be a pleasant read."
⚠️ We don't know what Oso is. An investor might wonder, "Is this a potential fit for me?"
⚠️ Contact details are missing. That might create friction b/c the deck needs to be opened and scrolled through to get to that email address.
This slide seems to rely on verbal explanation to make sense. That's good when used in meetings, horrible when sent around.
⚠️ We see an event, why?
⚠️ Is it supposed to explain the problem? It doesn't.
⚠️ Are we supposed to read the details? Confusing.
⭐️ Takeaway; there are different flavors of investor pitch decks;
• a self-explanatory teaser deck to land the first meeting with an investor
• a presentation deck that supports the entrepreneur's narrative during the meeting
This deck seems to be the second one.
That's not what we're used to seeing - most other decks that were made public are self-explanatory. But these slides have been taken out of context - we have no idea what narrative they were supporting!
And we don't know what slides might be missing due to confidentiality.
What is this? Let's go one slide further.
Slide 4/ the problem
✅ They build a slide up with 2 clicks, which helps to stay in control of the story, especially when presenting
⚠️ Domain experts might understand this, but I find it too vague;
• what security products?
• friction doing what?
They must have explained it verbally.
5/ a bridge slide towards the solution?
I assume they verbally explained what security they're talking about.
⚠️ We still don't know what they do!
This screenshot must be taken way out of context! It makes little sense without the narrative.
⚠️ Even with the narrative, it's difficult to imagine how a tweet like this serves as a strong argument to bring a point across in a series A round.
Alright, this is getting really exciting now:)
✅ Clear, concise, and intriguing statement (title).
✅ Supported by examples.
⚠️ The audience needs at least some domain knowledge to get it but that's ok, not every investor is a fit!
(and let's not forget that we can't hear the narrative that goes with these slides)
⚠️ On slide 5 (bridge) they indicated that it's going to be about the solution from then on.. nope, we're still at the problem..
✅ 'Undifferentiated work' resonates + it stands out.
⚠️ Too many example bubbles on the left may send a message: we can't prioritise.
✅ Nice continuation of the story, the title explains WHY it takes a lot of time.
✅ The target customer pitches the problem, nice, they have much more credibility to say this!
⚠️ We would also expect numbers to put some weight on this anecdote; how many people like this are there?
11/ Solution on slide 11??
❗️Don't do this! Investors get impatient! They need to know what you do early on.
❗️ Even if they should know what you do, bring it on top of their mind, don't make them think!
In the case of this pitch deck, I'm sure Oso refreshed what they do verbally in the intro.
✅ Great, intriguing oneliner (title), but why is a one-liner like this not on the cover slide?
⚠️ 'Why anything' is confusing, probably makes sense with the narrative
⚠️ 'Why anything' (left) and 'What is Oso' (middle but higher&bolder) compete for attention; what do you want us to read first?
✅ Great that they limit themselves to the top 3 features
⚠️ The images take reading effort, they stand out, but they don't add clarity to the message. Icons might work better.
⚠️ Small text should be bigger, big text smaller b/c it's a more detailed explanation of the above.
✅ Green/brown colors help to direct our attention
This must be valuable to know for ppl with domain expertise, I'm not one of them, I can't comment any furter.
⚠️ Weak title compared to the quotes
✅ Great to let customers do the talking
✅ Standard, concise explanation of the opportunity
⚠️ Too self-explanatory for the in-meeting deck.. too busy
✅ Good that they include DIY solutions
⚠️ Confusing. Might make sense with the narrative but as is, it looks like "let's just drop everything else on here."
18/ the team
✅ An engaging title
✅ The founding team differentiated from employees
✅ Company logos and investor list add credibility
⚠️ Detail: more white space would make it look less busy
Overall, a great, informative slide!
⚠️ Contact details are missing. It never hurts to have it on there for convenience.
⚠️ No CTA (call to action); how much money? What for? Of course, they left confidential slides out:)
Don't copy decks just because they raised with famous VCs!
Because pitch decks are taken out of context!
⚠️ You don't know the narrative,
⚠️ who made an intro
⚠️ how impressive the startup is.
A superstar team with impressive traction in a big market can raise on the back of a napkin!
Let me know your thoughts about this deck in the comments below and leave a like if you liked this post.
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