What we can learn from Uber’s first pitch deck: 5 tips for startups looking for funding
In 2020, it’s pretty hard to imagine a world without Uber for a lot of us. Go to any large city, almost anywhere in the world, and the convenience of Uber above taxis and public transport reigns supreme.
However, rewind 12 years and Uber, then “UberCab”, were creating their first ever pitch deck. From it came a $200k total investment, which helped the company to grow into what it is today: A market dominator with an annual turnover of $11.3 billion in 2018 (source).
Knowing that Uber not only secured funding from the pitch deck, which they released to the public for their 9th anniversary, but also that they then used this funding to become such a success story, tells us that businesses have a lot to learn from them!
At Snap Out, we’re grant funding geeks! We help businesses to secure funding, with years of experience under our belt. So, we knew that we had to write this blog post, diving into Uber’s original pitch deck and outlining what it can teach businesses hoping for similar success.
5 key lessons from Uber’s first pitch deck
1. Keep it concise
We know, you love your business idea and want to share it with the world. However, don’t be tempted into putting lots of unnecessary detail into your pitch deck and sharing all of the information you have.
When you’re giving a pitch, you need to keep the people you’re selling to as engaged as possible. If they lose interest, you’re probably going to lose your chance at funding, no matter how brilliant your ideas are.
As VC Iskender Dirik notes, “The attention span of a VC is even shorter than you might think. Be as striking, simple and short as possible.” (source). Similarly, Angel Investor Jordan Rothstein says that one of the key factors in creating a great pitch deck is keeping it “clear and concise” (source, Angel investor).
In fact, we’d recommend creating your deck, cutting it down, walking away from it and then cutting it down again!
Uber is a great example of this. Take a look at their simple, to-the-point deck, which outlines only the necessary information and selling points of the service. Even the design itself is minimal:
2. Do your research!
As we’ve said before: Don’t start creating your pitch deck until you have put in the research!
You need to truly understand the behind-the-scenes of your business, know your market and understand your users. As such, commit to conducting user and market research that will give potential investors the reassurance they need that their money is safe with you.
Uber did a great job of outlining the overall market and the composition of the market, to show that they’d put the research into how their business will fit into the picture.
3. Outline your value proposition
“A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged.” (source)
Your value proposition is potentially the most important aspect of your brand. As Steve Harvey, notes, “your promotional methods are just a megaphone for something underneath — your brand proposition.”
So, make sure that you ask yourself the question, “what is it that my company is giving to my ideal customer/user?”
Conducting user research here can be extremely helpful, in order to assess what your customer’s pain points are and how they’re currently trying to solve their problem. That way, you can more easily identify exactly what you can bring to the table as a company.
In Uber’s case, they outline their value proposition within the first few slides of their deck:
To find out exactly what slides you should be including in your deck, be sure to check out this post of ours, where we outline everything your potential investors need to know.
4. Outline potential outcomes
Again, your pitch is created to reassure your potential investors that giving money to your business is a risk well worth taking. We think that Uber do this brilliantly when they outline the “best” and “worst” case scenarios of their company…
Your aim is to prove that even a worst-case scenario will not be a major loss for your investors. Put their minds at ease!
5. Create a sense of urgency
A lot of people will advise you to form an emotional connection between potential investors and your startup. And we agree!
However, we think that the main emotion you need to leave your audience with is one of urgency. You need to give investors the sense that they can’t possibly miss out on the opportunity you’re giving them.
Uber do this in a simple but effective way, by outlining the key user, driver and environmental benefits that make the company unique and investing in them a chance not to be missed.
The Key Takeaways
There’s no denying that Uber has changed in ways they didn’t foresee in their pitch: Whilst they promised a fleet of “luxury” vehicles, some of their most popular cars are now the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic and Toyota Camry!
However, the key premise remains the same: A fast & efficient on-demand car services, with optimised fleets and incentivised drivers. And it was this that sold the concept to the investors that helped make Uber into the huge success story it is today.
In their pitch deck, they focus on the benefits they are adding to users, with the market research to back up how their idea could flourish. They keep their pitch clear and concise and simply don’t give potential investors the chance to switch off, instead providing them with a sense of urgency.
All of these factors combine to make a killer pitch deck, which was ultimately a stepping stone on their road to success.
We could all take a leaf out of their book. But don’t forget, if you need help with a grant funding application, our team of experts are here to give you the support you need.
The Snap Out Team ⛰️