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Feb 13, 2024

6 Startup Pitch Strategies That Won Funding in 2023: What Worked?

Despite the tumultuous VC landscape of 2023, numerous startups managed to secure substantial capital. We analyzed & scored their pitch in this article

BY
Keane Angle
Louise Saludo

In the unpredictable world of venture capital, your pitch deck stands as the linchpin between success and failure in securing funds. Despite the tumultuous venture capital landscape of 2023, numerous startups managed to secure substantial capital. To unravel the reasons behind their success, we turn our focus to the meticulous analysis of their pitch decks.

Our approach involved gathering pitch decks from various stages of funding, including Seed, Series-A, and Series-B rounds. We analyzed each pitch, based on the criteria outlined in our book, "How Good Is Our Pitch Deck by our founder, Keane Angle.

What are Boosters & Draggers?

Boosters give investors reasons to believe that your business will succeed. A few examples of these are early traction, experienced leadership teams, notable awards and press, and more. The more boosters you have, the stronger your pitch deck is.

On the other hand, Draggers are the opposite, and they contribute to investors thinking that your business won’t succeed. What could these be you ask? Anything that could sink your ship: bad press, no competition, small opportunity, leadership team gaps, and more.

One last thing before we analyze each pitch, these pitch decks are available in the public domain which means some information was redacted for privacy. This will slightly affect our analysis.

Okay, enough talk, let’s analyze each pitch deck

Learn more about How Good is My Pitch Deck? by our founder, Keane Angle on Amazon.

Seed Pitch Decks

Nokod

Nokod is a cybersecurity company for no code apps that Raised $8M last year. Here’s the analysis of the pitch decks Boosters and Draggers:

Boosters

  • Top Notch Team

The founding team has extensive experience in cybersecurity, with the CTO having 25 years of experience and being a former founder and CTO of a company acquired by Thoma Bravo. The CEO also has 15 years of experience and was a former founder and CEO of a company acquired by Ping Identity.

  • Unfair advantage

The pitch deck identifies a seasoned leadership team and a proprietary Nokod NCLC Analyzer.

  • 100% Proprietary

The pitch deck mentions the Nokod NCLC Analyzer and its components, but it does not specify if the technology is patent-protected or proprietary.

Draggers

  • No Competition  

In previous articles, we’ve talked about why having no competition could be detrimental to startups. While Nokod is the first of its class, it’s still worth noting which industries it augments, replaces, or integrates. Even the mention of indirect competition which could eat away market share could show investors how the founders know the industry well.

  • Leadership Gaps

Without details on the broader team beyond the leading figures, there might be concerns about gaps in the team's capabilities, particularly in scaling and operational execution.

With the rise of AI and many tech advancements, many startups are adapting the low/no-code model. The pitch deck even enumerates brands ahead of the curve in no-code apps. We believe Nokod was able to raise $8M in Seed round as investors believe the opportunity to be the first cybersecurity provider for low/no-code apps could be huge. Especially given the fact that the founders are cybersecurity experts.

CleanHub

CleanHub is a company that has created a business model out of sustainability, which investors love. The company raised $7M in Seed funding last year.

Boosters

  • Top-notch Team  

The founding team has a strong combination of impact, technology, and commercial expertise. This diverse and experienced team seems well-equipped to execute their vision, earning them

  • Proven Results  

The pitch deck mentions the development of ISO-certified track-and-trace technology and an AI audit backend with a precision rate of 98.5%.

  • 100% Proprietary  

The pitch mentions proprietary track-and-trace technology and an AI audit backend, which suggests that they have developed unique, in-house solutions.

  • Unfair Advantage

The proprietary technology and AI audit backend could be considered an unfair advantage, especially in the waste management and recycling industry.

Draggers

  • No Competition  

The deck does not explicitly mention direct competitors, which might be seen as a dragger. However, the unique positioning and the innovative market approach somewhat mitigate this concern.

Investors were likely impressed by the startup’s dedication to sustainability partnered with a top-notch team and a proprietary, ISO-certified technology.

Series-A Pitch Decks

Aether

Aether is a notable Series-A startup that raised $49M last year. The biotech startup’s pitch deck is bold in exhibiting proprietary tech and competitive advantages.

Boosters

  • 100% Proprietary:  

Aether's technology for indexing proteins and optimizing them for industrial applications is described as proprietary, indicating a significant competitive advantage.

  • Proven Results:  

Aether demonstrates proven results through the development of proprietary technology. The pitch mentions breakthroughs in defluorination, antiviral manufacturing, and aramid polymerization.

  • Unfair Advantage:  

Aether's proprietary technology for indexing proteins and optimizing them could be considered an unfair advantage, especially if it's unique and difficult to replicate.

Draggers

  • Leadership Gaps

There's no mention of gaps in leadership or efforts to fill them, but also no detail on the existing team's composition to reassure investors about comprehensive expertise and leadership.

  • Unfound Founders

The pitch does not provide information about the accessibility of the founders’ professional profiles or their visibility online, making it difficult to assess this aspect.

We believe investors funded Aether because of their unfair advantage and proprietary advancements. However, it’s worth noting that the pitch deck can get technical quickly. Here’s what Tech Crunch had to say:

"The biggest improvement, I think, could be done on the storytelling front. There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to explaining complex topics as if the person asking the question were a 5-year-old, and I think this deck could benefit from taking a similar approach. I don’t mean you have to speak down to your investors, but you also don’t have to technobabble your way through your pitch.”

PHOSPHOLUTIONS

Phospholutions is an Agtech startup that raised $10M last year. In total, the startup has raised over $32.5M since 2019 according to Crunchbase. But let’s focus on their most recent win with their 2023 pitch deck.

Boosters

  • Organic Growth  

The deck does not provide actual data and it could have been redacted. However, the deck mentions that RhizoSorb® is being sold to US farmers.

  • Proven Results

The deck provides data on increased yields using 50% less phosphorus per acre, which is a tangible result that demonstrates the superiority of their solution. This would earn the full points.

  • Notable Investors

The deck mentions being backed by leading investors as the startup has raised funding. It is also public knowledge that the company has consistently raised since 2019.

  • Healthy Revenue  

The deck mentions sales and provides a forecast, albeit the startup has redacted specific revenue figures, we will reward full points.

Draggers

  • Team Experience Needed  

The pitch deck provides a solid organizational chart that shows its core leadership team. Logos would have further strengthened the slide.

Overall, Phospholutions’ pitch is impactful which is expected from Series-A startups who are considered a relatively stable late-stage startup. It also helps that they’ve already established credibility among investors alongside their revenue and their detailed growth plan albeit redacted.  

Series-B Pitch Decks

Unito

Moving to SaaS startup, Unito. This Series-B company that focuses on no-code platform integration raised $20M off this particular deck. Let’s analyze, shall we?

Boosters

  • Top-notch Team  

The team slide mentions the experience of the co-founders and key executives, including exits and years in the industry. This suggests a strong team with relevant experience

  • Organic Growth  

The deck mentions growth rates for CRMs and Sheets & Tables categories (33% and 34% MoM, respectively).

  • Proven Results  

The deck claims a "16x improvement over current offerings" which suggests they have data to back up their superiority

  • 100% Proprietary  

The deck mentions specialized algorithms and technical challenges that have been overcome, which suggests proprietary technology.

Draggers

We have double-checked our list of draggers and somehow found none for Unito’s pitch deck. Impressively, they ticked all the boxes that could boost their pitch deck’s narrative. This could be because we’re in the Series-B category and these companies have ample fundraising experience. Hence, they know how to create an impressive pitch deck that will get the attention of investors. It’s also worth noting that the startup COULD have access and more resources to hire pitch deck consultants to further the quality of their pitch.

Either way, here’s what Tech Crunch has to say on what could be improved in Unito’s pitch deck. This is a Series B deck, which means that the money raised is almost certainly going to be spent on growth. But questions — like the what, how, when and where — still remain. Companies need to have a detailed plan; for example, the money could be used to hire more staff, find new opportunities, develop more software, maybe acquire a smaller company or two. There are often a ton of ways to grow, so it’s crucial to give investors a glimpse into what you’re thinking.

Smalls

Last but not least, D2C pet food company, Smalls raised $19M Series-B round last year. They provide a fresh take on consumer goods by giving a personal experience to their customers. Interestingly, the company makes customers answer a quiz to indicate pet preferences. While most of the company’s financial metrics have been redacted, it’s safe to assume with the given context that the company is also experiencing consistent revenue throughout the years. Let’s analyze Smalls’ winning pitch deck.

Boosters

  • Top-notch Team  

The pitch deck mentions a leadership team with specific roles such as CEO, Merchandising, Supply Chain, Brand, and Strategic Finance.

  • Organic Growth  

The deck mentions a doubling of the business in the last 6 months and a significant increase in subscribers

  • Proven Results

 The deck provides some data points such as a 2x growth over the last 6 months, 86% recurring revenue, and a certain percentage of contribution profit per box.

  • Robust Fanbase  

The deck mentions high retention rates and proactive customer support, which could indicate a robust fanbase

  • Healthy Revenue  

The deck mentions revenue figures and an annual run rate, suggesting that the company is generating revenue.

  • Growth Engine  

The deck mentions a diversified growth engine and a stable mix of customer acquisition channels, which could be considered a growth engine.

Draggers

  •  Similar to Unito, this pitch is crafted to avoid common draggers effectively. It presents a strong case for investment with clear market positioning, data-backed growth, and an experienced leadership team. Assuming execution aligns with the pitch, it appears to have a solid foundation for attracting investment.

The common denominator: track record, proprietary tech, and proven business model.

While each startup's journey is unique, a common thread emerges – a heavy emphasis on track record, revenue, and proprietary solutions.  

Understanding the nuances of these pitch decks provides valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs and serves as a guide in navigating the intricate world of venture capital.

Boosters and Draggers helps founders quantitatively critique their pitch based on what instills confidence or doubt in an investor’s mind. Combining these two scores will get you the Lift Score— which will help in further developing your pitch and startup.

How Good Is My Pitch Deck: Discover Your Pitch’s Lift Score

Discover the Secrets to a Compelling Pitch Deck

  • Boosters and Draggers: Learn to identify what builds confidence or creates doubt in investors' minds.
  • Lift Score: Combine these insights to refine your pitch and enhance your startup's appeal.

Deep Dive into Your Pitch Deck's Potential

Explore our founder Keane Angle's insights in How Good Is My Pitch Deck. This essential guide is your key to understanding and improving your pitch deck's effectiveness.

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