Logo and background image from Postmates Press Kit, illustration courtesy of the author.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Postmates

Acquired by Uber in July 2020 for $2.65B, Postmates started in 2011 with a short deck and a great promise.

Nicolas Carteron
Sep 24, 2020 · 9 min read

The news came in July 2020: Uber would buy food-delivery startup and competitor Postmates in an all-stock deal valuing it at $2.65B, 10% over its September 2019 valuation. The brand will continue to exist for the moment, but the operations will be integrated into Uber Eats.

The coronavirus crisis has had dire consequences on Uber’s bottom-line, the company reporting a ($2.9B) loss in Q1 and ($1.8B) loss in Q2 of 2020 due to the poor performance of its ride-hailing business.

Eats and Postmates, on the other hand, benefitted from the delivery/e-commerce boom that came with the lockdowns and other travel restrictions. The newly formed entity would control 37% of the market, according to the New York Times article linked above.

Following this acquisition, Business Insider posted the first deck used by Postmates founders Bastian Lehmann, Sean Plaice, and Sam Street to raise a $750k seed round in 2011.

It’s a great deck with much to learn in it, so without further ado, let’s dive in and tear it down.

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Deck Details

Postmates, founded in 2010

Stage of financing: Seed

Stage of the company: Early-Stage, development phase.

Lead investors: Uncork Capital, Matrix Partners, AngelPad

Amount raised: $750k

Total amount raised pre-acquisition: $0.95B

Slides are from the Business Insider article linked above.

1. Title Slide

This title slide is a great start to a great deck.

Not only does it have the 3 necessary elements of a title slide:

  1. The logo and brand name are featured prominently
  2. There is a catchy tagline that explains the value proposition of the company
  3. There is no purpose for the deck. A simple “Seed round deck” would have done the trick and made it a perfect 3/3

But it also delivers on 2 crucial fronts:

First, the branding is well-defined, dreamy, friendly and reassuring. The kid on a bike references E.T. and childhood dreams ( → everything is possible) and the bridge is, of course, a wink to San Francisco, Postmates’ home city.

Being a B2C company, branding will be crucial to Postmates’ success. Investors will look for proofs of the founder’s ability in this domain. This is taken care of by the first slide alone.

Moreover, we’re talking about shipping here, an industry where logos look like this:

Square, professional, typographic. Not dreamy, fun, or

It’s a clear departure from tradition and from the standards set by competitors, which is good for a company aiming to disrupt an industry.

Second, it sets a light-hearted, humorous tone. The tagline is written in a direct, slangy English that immediately creates a bond with the reader. It explains the value with brilliant copy and the little extra that doesn’t suck hints at a problem most people have experienced.

As you might tell, I really like this title slide.

2. Team & Company

Postmates starts its deck the proper way: with its team slide. As I’ve said it a few times already, starting with the team is what all early-stage startups should do.

At this stage, you are your company’s greatest assets and you are the reason people will invest in your project. Until you have a proven financial track record, you and your team are the basis of your storytelling. Put yourself forward.

The way it’s done here is clean and transparent. Founders, investors, and advisors are well laid out and introduced by a single key achievement/employer.

The extra paragraph about the company’s history and its funding to date is a nice touch, giving prospective investors a reference point regarding the current round size and target valuation.

3. Shipping today aka The problem

This slide is smart.

When the problem you solve is something everybody has experienced, try to evoke it and not state it explicitly. This will force the reader/listener to remember their frustration and their own poor experience and will prime them to be more receptive to your solution.

Here, the problems with shipping are evoked with a single image of a UPS notice.

You missed your delivery and now you need to contact UPS’s helpline, set another date and time or a pickup place,… you’re already angry thinking about it.

The sticky paper note also hints at an old-school industry that has not yet been disrupted by smartphones and the latest technologies.

4. Demo aka The solution

I must assume here that the password is german for “The Wild Ones 13” and not a threat directed to a famous, melancholic Irish poet,

Once again, this is brilliant. Prospective investors want to know you can deliver a solution that works. If you have one (even if it is only a demo), show it.

The videos demonstrate an easy-to-use smartphone application that solves all the issues related to shipping a parcel. Once again, if you had ordered UPS pickups in 2011, you’d know the difference in ease and speed.

They say a good picture is worth a thousand words. The same is true with a good demo.

5. Shipping simplified aka Details & Competition

Having shown the solution rather than explained it, the founders now go into more details about their offering. In a smart and elegant way, they use this slide to introduce their competitors and how they are different from them.

If you read my previous teardowns, you’ll know I am not a fan of conventional competitor slides with magic quadrants or petal diagrams. Using comparison tables as they do here is a much better way to do it. Not only does it look more objective and factual, but it is also more data-rich and allows for easier comparisons.

The promise of Postmates’ solution is clearly stated at the top: no more compromise between cost, quality, speed, and ease. You get them all!

Using a standard green/red colour scheme, the table immediately highlights where Postmates wins (spoiler alert, they win everywhere) and where its competitors fail.

6. Market size

My love for this deck keeps increasing!

While it follows the standard Problem → Solution → Market Size template, each step has its own twist.

The problem was a single, evocative picture.

The solution two demo videos.

Moving away from the common pie/bubble chart conundrum, Postmates takes another approach. Instead, it shows in a bar chart the individual revenues of the 5 largest companies in the industry and highlights the aggregated value of the remaining 12,000: a staggering $10B.

The message is clear: Postmates is not after UPS or FedEx. This would be an empty promise for two reasons:

One, the capital expenditures required to compete with these giants are hardly fathomable for a company raising a pre-seed round; and

Two, it is not in line with the promise made in the title slide to offer “insanely personal local delivery.” The branding matches the strategy, another proof of professionalism.

They aim to target the other 12,000 companies (and $10B), of which 47% are SMEs with revenues between $1M and $5M that offer local deliveries.

This is a rational and reasonable strategy that feels less risky. Yet, in a market as large as shipping, it remains juicy. Double win!

7. Market opportunity

This slide doesn’t stand as well on its own as the other ones.

It’s a little harder to understand where they’re getting at, but one gets the idea that local delivery through Postmates is a service that will be of interest to many industries.

It provides a potential framework for a go-to-market strategy based on client verticals or geographies.

8. Traction

Adding a traction slide when you have proof of acceptance and users committed is a great way to demonstrate the viability of your product/service and its product-market fit.

Favour a very simple slide design with large figures and/or a chart showing clear adoption and user growth.

The design of the slide is a little out of touch with the rest of the deck and pretty poor. It feels cobbled together at the last second. We know the founders raised their round with this deck, so this didn’t hurt them but I’d wager it didn’t help either.

9. Go-to-market

The author was evidently more interested in this slide than the last one!

A great go-to-market slide should introduce the different steps of your strategic plan and highlight, for each:

The initiatives you intend to execute;

The milestones you plan to achieve (defined as objective numeric figures);

The resources you will need.

For each stage of their plan, Postmates addresses the 3 issues and defines clear milestones. In doing so, they also put forward what will be their Key Performance Indicator (KPI): deliveries/day.

Investors love when founders can outline a clear set of KPIs that are truly relevant to the business and that they can track over time.

10. Business Model

We know what the problem is, how Postmates intends to solve it, how big the market is and how they will go about conquering it. Now, we need to know how the founders plan to make money!

Once again, the design of this slide is disappointing. Seeing how young the company was, it’s not surprising that the business model slide would be so.

At this stage, most startups don’t know how they’ll make money and you kind of feel it here.

Nonetheless, the slide outlines two revenue streams:

Shipping services will generate revenues per delivery through transaction fees. This is clear: as soon as transactions happen, Postmates will make money.

Platform services will generate revenue by offering extra services to couriers. This is a bit more blurry and longer-term. It kind of feels like the authors wrote in ideas for future revenue streams without exactly knowing how to get there.

It is always tempting to add more revenue streams to your deck to “entice” investors and “lure” them with great promises. My recommendation, don’t do it.

Focus your effort on explaining how you will make money in the coming 1–3 years and detailing the unit economics of your business model.

You can mention ideas for further down the line but since these will not be considered strategic priorities for the near future, keep them short and do go into too much detail (you don’t have them anyway).

11. Tech architecture

There isn’t much to say about this slide. I am not sure it adds much value to the discussion and would probably be better off in a technical addendum to be provided on request.

12. Summary

The deck ends on a summary slide with 4 strong bullet points. I like that they mention the right team once again just at the end. It ties the deck together, as one could say. Start with the team, end with the team.

Conclusion

As with Sumo Logic’s, Postmates deck lacks a crucial slide: the financing proposition. Always mention the purpose of your deck on the title slide and include a slide detailing your fundraising target and use of funds.

The branding starts strong on the title page but is not present enough along the deck. I would have loved to see the logo and some imagery/colour scheme throughout to reinforce the brand and the message.

Overall, Postmates’ deck is a strong example with many killer slides. It delivers a strong value proposition in a clear and professional way.

It’s definitely an example to follow as far as early-stage decks go!

Pitch Decks

All about pitch decks and financial documentation

Nicolas Carteron

Written by

I write about politics, business, society and culture on Medium. For startup/business content, check my newsletter: fundraisedd.substack.com

Pitch Decks

All about pitch decks and financial documentation

Nicolas Carteron

Written by

I write about politics, business, society and culture on Medium. For startup/business content, check my newsletter: fundraisedd.substack.com

Pitch Decks

All about pitch decks and financial documentation

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