A few days ago, a friend asked me to share a few of our early Ooyala investor decks because they’re about to start fundraising. (Check them out — sounder.fm — founded by former Googlers and Spotify execs).
As I scoured through years of decks, I found three copies: our seed, early institutional, and growth-stage. I thought I would share them more broadly so you can see their evolution and hopefully find them useful.
Seed Stage — May 2007 https://drive.google.com/file/d/15VBr0Bev4qUteXrekMDJAzSuK0DoPt2Y/view?usp=sharing
Bel, Sean and I had just left Google and had raised our series A (today, it would be considered a pre seed round). The deck was heavily focused on the team and early technology. We were primarily focused on the computer vision aspect of the platform that would allow us to better monetize video — and potentially offer a image fingerprint that could be used for DRM (Digital Rights Management). We had developed a platform called Backlot which was a video CMS that would also double as our trojan horse to get professional content in our system — which could later be monetized on our own property. We had used Elance (now Upwork) to find a logo designer.
Lessons Learned: We belabored the point of the extended team and advisors. Although the tech was interesting, it wasn’t the product. We should’ve spent more time outlining the problem we were trying to solve. In spite of our deck, we were able to raise $1.5M from key investors because they assumed that since we had come from Google, we were well-positioned to take on the media industry. Again, investors first and foremost invest in people.
Institutional Round — January 2008 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xME6BAfJZ2DTZ_iVrmkXz3-6fCbAHMGK/view?usp=sharing
A new logo, but still the same basic problems with the deck. We had started to narrow in on the problem that the industry faced, and thought that a better monetization model would be the secret sauce to our success. In the deck, it’s not until you get to slides 17–20 that you get to what would eventually become Ooyala’s core business — adaptive streaming and platform fees. We were still pre-revenue and pre customers, so there was a lot to learn about what customers would be willing to pay for. We received a handful of term sheets and ended up selecting Sierra and Mark Fernandes as our partner/investor.
Lessons Learned: Deck was too long; we spent more time discussing the market opportunity, but still missing the big business opportunity for us. After pitching DFJ, Ravi Belani, our sponsor on the deal, called to let us know that they were passing, but he had some feedback on how to improve the deck. We made the changes, and our next pitch, only a few hours later, resulted in a term sheet. Feedback is critical!
From our first institutional round to this deck, a lot had changed. We survived the 2008/2009 economic downturn, we brought in Jay Fulcher as our CEO, hired up execs and focused in on our core differentiators. As a business, we had scaled 4X in headcount and 10X our revenue from our first institutional round. Computer vision was gone, becoming a destination was gone… We now focused on developing a platform that catered to large media companies. At that time, we focused on increasing our ACV from $15k to almost $75k, which was the biggest boost to the value of the business.
Lessons Learned: Investor decks are a tool to tell a story that builds your credibility when you’re not in the room. If you are in the room, sometimes it makes the most sense to not even use a deck.
So for when you’re not in the room, I’ve become a big fan of the following format:
- Start with an executive summary that gives a snapshot of the team, the state/stage of the business, and any key information that will help investors know who you are and why you deserve to be invited to speak with them.
- Then go in and discuss the problem you’re trying to solve and why it’s a big problem. If there is some question about the TAM — this is where you discuss it.
- Next, discuss your solution — this is where you sometimes do a demo of the product.
- Move from there to your competitive advantages and where you fit on the competitive landscape and then get into your business model and financials.
- It should be obvious in your business model and financials the key metrics that help you understand whether or not you’re being successful.
Now, I’m at Wizeline. We’ve grown the business to over 700 people worldwide and are growing by about 10% month-over-month. We help companies design and develop digital products. We work with companies who need to get high-quality software products to market fast. If you need some engineering work or product development, give us a call.