This is the Octi pitch deck to raise their $7.5m seed round in 2019. The round was led by Shasta Ventures. Octi is an augmented video company leveraging machine learning and computer vision to make your world more interactive.
I am super dubious about people who use buzzwords like ML and CV to explain their company. It’s like they believe it will increase their valuation (Which it occasionally does when you are on trend…).
I doubt that this is their full deck. Most decks that get made public have some sort of PR angle. It’s only when there is some explicit founder note (Like Henry Ward at Carta or Reid at LinkedIn) do you know it’s most of their deck. Be careful about reading too much into decks if you don’t know the background to them. You find a lot of ignorant founders that will see a deck with 9 slides and no text and think “Yay! I don’t have to do a proper deck either.”
If you are famous you don’t even need to write a deck sometimes though.
Justin Fuisz seems like a salesy guy that spends time telling a story. Investors in the Valley LOVE a good story like fat kids love chocolate!
“The world is ready for a new platform — something exciting, something that’s different than what’s out there already.”
The two trends cited are privacy-scrutiny from companies like Facebook, and growing interest in augmented reality, popularised by Pokémon Go.
One thing I like Justin is doing is being pragmatic and calling BS when he needs to. If you know investors are dubious about a trend say so! Justin says:
“When you think about AR, you want to think about utility, not just novelty. AR really hasn’t had its breakout moment yet. We really harp on the idea of giving utility to the user.”
The goal is a little scary. He sees a world where people will hold up their phone to someone’s face and they won’t just see people, they’ll see people’s Octi profiles with animations and information about them. Sort of what the Chinese likely see about their dissidents already… I mean citizens. He thinks that would be “an incredible icebreaker” for people to start conversations in the real world. I think it would be a deal breaker to a conversation even starting. Glassholes anyone?
OK. I’m being a dick because I’m being pragmatic. I think it would be totally cool. But then I love gadgets. I just can’t ever see normal people being ok with that. It’s the normal people who killed Glass. I’m so annoyed as I would love to have one!
Justin does actually have some really solid advice about pitch decks though. He said they are not a “one-size-fits-all” and that is so true it is not funny. Octi is a visual product and so he was originally gimicky (don’t be gimmicky!) and so the first iteration of the deck included animations, rather than static pages. Investors want your deck to explain how to make money- not show dancing hot dogs.
Next, he talks about information overload. Don’t put so much information in the deck that an investor might immediately say, “this isn’t for me.” “If your technology and product is truly groundbreaking, your goal as an entrepreneur should really just be to get [the investor] in the room,” so that you can explain more. You do that by explaining you are on trend, with a large market size and ideally have a business model! Though I am writing this from San Fran and I had a chat today with a great founder today who said that “investors here will fund technology that they like even if there is no business model”. I think that’s exclusive to here though. Don’t try that shite in London – investors will ask what year you are profitable 😉
Octi is a company of computer vision scientists, researchers and machine learning engineers making everything in your world interactive. The company’s flagship mobile application, OCTI, allows users to augment themselves, their friends, and their worlds by using the human body as a new medium for communication. Octi was founded by Justin Fuisz, an award-winning entrepreneur in the augmented video and computer vision industries.
To date they just raised the $7.5m seed round, which let’s face it, is pretty strong!
Pitch deck review summary
It’s a short and punchy deck. It’s very visual heavy at the expense of communication. I doubt this is the full deck.
It’s fine to want to inject your brand into everything to show you ‘think about this’ but really decks are about how you make investors money.
There’s nothing specific in this model at all. Actually, I don’t think there is one number in the whole deck, and by that I mean there aren’t even page numbers. Actually, that’s a lie. There’s a dystopian slide about how many people have been scanned by NSA operatives under the guise of giving them Taco discounts. Actually, can you imagine if that was true? I mean, how dumb would we be to allow this? I’m just amusing myself atm.
- How big is the market?
- What’s the actual problem?
- What is their go to market strategy?
- How will they make money?
No idea, but apparently we are going to get Taco discounts by scanning each other, so who cares, right?
I’m being a bit snarky but then Justin managed to get $7m seed from people I doubt are intellectually challenged. Justin is clearly focused on telling a story about a version of the future he can imagine with a novel behaviour, and do you know what, he has a shot of it working (Cough, Snapchat).
VCs fund stupid shite because it could be huge. Founders who build purely logical, solid businesses hate these kinds of businesses. But the issue is that your logical business doesn’t necessarily have the same crazy outcome potential if everything worked out. Hate all you like, but that’s the startup/VC game- go huge or bootstrap.
Structured summary review
There are very few words per page. When there are words explaining things they become second class citizens. Justin is going for a ‘we are doing something nuts, let’s meet so I can explain it’. That’s probably smart for this kind of business as there just aren’t proper answers to things (that matter) like:
- Market size (Kids who use Snap)
- Problem being solved (There isn’t really right? It’s just boredom)
- How they will make money (Taco ads)
At 11 slides, the length is on the short end. Justin (If we pretend this is the full deck, which I doubt) isn’t trying to work with logic. He doesn’t have any intention in letting the fact get in the way of pictures, I mean the story.
There are no headers. The story is sort of implied a bit. You have to meet me to understand what is going on.
It’s creative. You couldn’t disagree. I’m all about logic, so I wouldn’t do a deck this way, but it worked for Justin.
There isn’t an explicit narrative. The slides sort of flow, though there aren’t many of them.
The normal rules don’t really apply here. That’s not what they are going for.
They cover very little of what they really should. As I keep saying Justin is asking for a leap of faith.
Slide by slide review
Logo check. Unchecked from there. Add a tag line so investors know what they are getting.
DO NOT put in a date. You are going to forget to update the date and investors will know how long you have been raising for. It’s also an extraneous data point that adds zero value. I think dates entered deck design as it’s something bankers do.
Here is an example of bad communication structure. The quote is HUGE and then the rest of the text gets progressively smaller to the point it gets hard to read. If something is on a slide, it needs to sell and carry weight.
Quotes are the lamest thing to add to a slide. It says (to me) I couldn’t find or couldn’t be bothered to add actual data to prove a point. Someone sais something so it must be true…
I don’t believe anything people claim about the future. Here’s an aside so you understand why.
“In 1980, McKinsey & Company was commissioned by AT&T (whose Bell Labs had invented cellular telephony) to forecast cell phone penetration in the U.S. by 2000. The consultant’s prediction, 900,000 subscribers, was less than 1% of the actual figure, 109 Million. Based on this legendary mistake, AT&T decided there was not much future to these toys. A decade later, to rejoin the cellular market, AT&T had to acquire McCaw Cellular for $12.6 Billion. By 2011, the number of subscribers worldwide had surpassed 5 Billion and cellular communication had become an unprecedented technological revolution.”
Investors are busy. Make it easy for them to read your deck. This slide looks like someone was experimenting with acid.
Put headers in the same place. It’s a problem slide- that’s vertically repeated on the side.
The slide is explained in double space which makes it hard to read. They then make a series of claims that are not backed up by anything. Why do you want to represent yourself virtually? And frankly isn’t Snapchat a virtual representation of you in a manner? Why the hell do I want to be an avatar? Kids are vain as f*** and now they aren’t going to show even an augmented improvement of their vain mug? Ok.
Then there are a series of claims abut no utility, novelty (um what is this app then..?), no retention and engagement. Prove it!
I guess this is a solution slide. How do they know who everyone is? And that isn’t creepy? What is mobile AI and is that different from desktop AI? Whatever. So they talk about profiles, but the images aren’t showing any profile?
Who is scanning faces and why? People claim Facebook was setup by the CIA. If so, this is definitely NSA backed.
What are mini apps? Maybe they are alluding to a business model through native advertising with tacos? This deck is clearly not designed to send to investors in advance to explain the business.
I have no idea what this is about but it’s clearly an attempt to make the startup sound like a big deal with some crazy vision.
Patents for startups do not imply defensibility (average cost to litigate is $2m!). They just say we are capable of building tech worth patenting.
I’m in two minds if the way they intro tech here is good or terrible. It alludes to very positive stuff. As a VC I might be ok with it. I’ll ask for details in a meeting if I took one. TBH, if Justin was able to make patentable and innovative tech pre-funding I would be impressed. I would think “What could he do if he actually had money?”
As far as I can tell, Octi only raised one round of financing to get to this point. Under that assumption, Justin continually updated the side as he got soft/hard commitments from investors. This slide wouldn’t have existed in the start and would have evolved over time.
Investors are sheep. There are very few conviction investors. Dropping big names is like sticking crack onto your deck. Investors love to invest with other top investors (especially if they are lower status). Whilst I don’t like writing “best investors”, Justin knows how investors think. If you can get great investors on board, sell the crap out of that.
You don’t need an ending slide with your contact info. I’m 99% sure Justin shared this deck to get some fre PR, so take it with a ping of salt. It would have his email there if this was the original deck, for example.
He chucks in another quote for good measure. The quote from a senior guy at a big company like Fox isn’t terrible I have to admit. I would have this on a traction slide if there weren’t enough charts to fill the page.
What I do on the final slide is to write the “three things to remember” (which is something I made up). An alternative thing to do is add an investment thesis. I very rarely see this. If founders write the “ten things to remember” then I add a title which says investment thesis, lol.
Actually, this is the last page. It’s pointless. Anyone who read this far lost 10 seconds of their life they are not going to get back. Remember- always be selling. If something doesn’t sell, delete it. Be ruthless.
Did you like the deck? Did you learn anything interesting? Let me know.
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