Saas startup pitch deck front

Pitch Deck Front Series A SaaS Startup

Here’s the slide deck the Front team used to raise its $10 million Series A round in 2016. In this series A round, the Front team managed to raise from Social Capital, Stuart Butterfield (Slack) and some other Angels.

It truly is one of the best decks I have seen in a long time. Everything from the flow, the design to the clarity is strong. To our delight, the founder Mathilde Collin has written a blog outlining some of her lessons raising.

Lessons learned on the process of raising Front Series-A

  • Pick your board member carefully: I knew whoever would invest in our A round would become our first board member, and we’d have to work together for years. Considering you can’t really get rid of a board member, I felt it was important to start getting to know them early.
  • Realise raising is a full-time process: I spent 90% of my days working on the deck, gathering data, making projections and constantly iterating based on investor feedback
  • Talk to VCs but don’t waste your time: VCs live and die on information (about your company, your market, your competitors, etc.), so they will never run out of questions to ask. Know when to stop answering.
  • The story you tell is the one they will dream/nightmare of: Choose carefully what metrics you talk about during those meetings. VCs will take note of everything you say and try to detect trends in your business. You want to decide which trends they get to detect.
  • Be committed to raising, or don’t: Raise or don’t raise. But don’t “kind of raise”: the more condensed the process, the better outcome for your company.

Lessons learned on Front pitch deck from investorspitch deck

Strong:

  • Capital efficient: They spent less than their ARR. Not all VCs want you to spend all your cash in 12 months.
  • Upselling customers is good: Customers spend 50% more after 12 months (net of churn). This is good

Weak:

  • Know your acquisition channels: Organic growth is not good because you have no idea what channels are scalable.
  • You need a financial model: Investors want to know how you will spend their money. 

Slides to be added:

  • Metrics are good: Add what is relevant to your startup: the average amount of time spent on the app per user and per day, the number of DAUs, the number of MAUs, the evolution of the DAU/MAU ratio etc.
  • Know your customers: Invest time finding out who your typical buyer is. Without this, you can’t do outbound or paid effectively.

Structured summary review

Words

Their choice of words is fantastic. They ar considered and frequently supported with data points. I love that.

I do feel there need to be more words, mainly in the header.

Slide length

There are 21 slides. This is in my sweet spot of 22-24 slides. This 10 slide thing is total bullshite.

Look at their deck and look at a 10 slide deck and see the difference.

Headers

The headers suck, but they sort of work for them better than other statups that do the same. I hate decks that grunt, eh eh, bra “Prooaaabbbllleeem”.

Do the thinking and write the interesting takeaway for the slide. You can literally write something sort of rubbish in 5 seconds which will still be better than “problem”. 3 second example: “email sucks for collaboration”.

As an exercise for you, go through all the slides and mentally rewrite the slides in this deck. I really mean do it. You’ll thank me. What is a better header for each with explains them?

Appearance

What cracks me up is that the deck looks great and it is super simple. Anyone with basic PowerPoint training can do slides like these. You just be boring and consistent.

I hate when founders get designers to make fancy shizzle. It always gets worse.

Narrative

The slides flow very well, but there isn’t a written narrative per se. Reading the deck you can mostly follow a long and get it.

If they used headers properly the deck would be vastly better than it already is.

Structure

The slides are super boring and consistent but they make the point the founders want to make. Again, stop doing crazy stuff and be boring.

When I make decks they are a little fussier than this, but they also try to make slides more structured and even more “boring”. All I care about is making it easy for an investor to read. Founders just don’t get this even if they have hired me and I keep repeating it to them. Simple and clear is next to godliness.

Slides

So… yes, they do sort of touch on everything investors want to know, but often not in adequate detail. Huh, you say?

Ok, tell me their market size? You can’t because they haven’t said. They said they have a bigger market than Slack. Do you think that is good enough?

Front improve in their next two decks, but for founders who are learning, this really is one of the best decks around to get learnings from.

Front pitch deck review

The contrast of the subheader is very poor. The cover is otherwise great.

Start explaining what it is you do so investors know.

I hate the headers. Don’t write “problem”, write the problem. For example “Everyone uses email, but it sucks for teams”.

The slide is solidly simple but communicates well. I wouldn’t advise this slide structure if you have a complicated business.

Having said that, do you feel a huge problem? It’s like yeah, email. But as of now, I don’t really feel “this needs to be fixed!”

They stick with the headers, so I’ll stop complaining about them.

I don’t agree with “for business”. It’s for collaboration tasks like customer care-type activities.

Rebuilding should be where solution is and the footer should be the subheader.

The slide isn’t actually great, but they use exquisite restraint in getting to the fecking point. Founders can’t help themselves from writing too much.

Three bullets are always good. Read the rule of three.

Explain where you sit and how you are different. Otherwise, I have to read.

Why is the text light grey? That’s all the text on the slide. Black please.

Good and bad messaging experience is a weird title. Twilio is a system to send messages? And it’s for consumers and not businesses? This is really weird positioning.

Define good experience. That is subjective. You know your competition slide works if you show it to competitors and they agree.

Head start over whom?

The slide is a little hard to understand. It seems shared inboxes is their beachhead product?

I think they explain this slide better in their series-B deck.

To improve, what is the ARPA of the customers? Any interesting metrics?

I don’t like quotes. You can get them from anyone. It’s cool that they mention how many seats each client has. That’s a good detail.

The slide is good.

Another solid slide. I like that they show the different kinds of churn. Shows that they actually know the difference.

Do not put in interstitial slides.

Product comes first? Product-led growth if that’s what they mean probably makes sense.

Body font size should never be larger than the header size.

Why no support agents, because the product works, engineering fixes things? What?

Not sure why they are talking about complex product lines and selling licences here?

Why is the main header acquisition channels and then it’s repeated after with the word 3 before. Don’t replicate text- always add value.

The slide isn’t great, but do you know what, go to market slides are actually so hard to do well. I never see good ones. What makes this slide good is that they have specifics. They say a lot of the right things to make the content interesting.

Smart SaaS investors love cohorts. To do one you need a minimum of a year. They have 22 months.

Their commentary is solid. I really like they have comments about Stripe not working. What I really like is calling on a negative – a customer shut down. Explain all the warts and own them.

Tieing their numbers to their strategy is cool.

Investors love the words capital efficient. But don’t say it unless it is true.

Some math they could have added here is $ of ARR per spend. They generate 1.08 per $ spent. That’s pretty good actually.

I do kinda wonder why they are raising it they have half the money left. They layer in that they could get profitable if they want to which is smart. Normally you would only be raising if you are being offered great terms, so why not if you can step up your game and increase your burn rate.

Ok, we sort of have the answer. It’s a lame slide though. I think it is an interstitial again.

What does mix of passion and experience mean? Nothing.

I mean like, there’s not really any details on the team. I know that the investors already know them, so maybe they don’t need to go there?

Interestingly they actually came out of a venture builder. That’s not mentioned anywhere (like on the internet as far as I know).

The “unfair access” to frogs, is sort of a bold claim. It’s something people would like to hear, but how do you back that up?

It’s like me saying I have a huge… slide into my DMs for more info 😉

I don’t really like product roadmap slides. These are details I can ask about. The slide per se is good though.

This is why you have headers. What is the takeaway here? The content looks good, but why do I have to figure it out?

This is an interesting way to do your ask slide. I like how they show the commitments. It’s generally better to be light on details here.

Ergh, I’m not sure about the slide. I do sort of like it. I don’t like the fact they believe the external space is larger. If you make these statements then you need to prove them with data. I don’t like arrogance in pitch decks.

Do not do thanks slides. I hate them. Summarise the opportunity, or if you’re smart add in an investment thesis slide.

Reid Hoffman writes in his LinkedIn pitch deck that founders should write an investment thesis. The issue is that more people, including investors, aren’t capable of writing them. They are not simple to do and require practice. I’m just being honest. I can write them, but they are a challenge.

Want to understand CAC/LTV calculations?

Check out the Credit Suisse approach to SaaS Customer Unit Economics

CLTV/CAC

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