[Editorial notes : Cubeit recently raised funding from Accel partners and Helion. Founder, Sarthak Jain shares the pitch deck they used to raise funds.]
At Cubeit we raised our seed round from Accel Partners and Helion Venture Partners with a product demo and not an actual product. Our slide deck had these 13 slides.
1. Why is this a big problem (eg Uber)
Who faces the problem : People who are partying on Saturday night in SF.
How fast is the problem growing: It takes 30 minutes to find a taxi today, as opposed to 15 a year ago.
A demo of the problem really helps: Step outside the room and try to find a taxi
2. What are the current alternatives (eg Airbnb)
Why are they inadequate: Hotels are expensive
How do people currently deal with the problem: Stay with friends they get introduced to in offline networks
If you can describe hacks people do themselves to solve the problem even better: People list their apartments for 2 weeks on Craiglist, there are 10,000 such live listings in SF
3. What are you building? Describe the product (eg Instagram)
Image > Text: Show a before and after Image
Video > Image: People clicking an image, applying a filter, and posting to social media
Killer Demo>>Pitch Deck : Click an image with the Investors, make it awesome, post to social media
4. Industry/Market insights that you have gained (eg Facebook)
What do you know that nobody else knows. This helps build businesses, not just raise money: People want to know each other’s relationship status.
You need to have an answer to “Why can’t somebody build the same thing in a couple of months?”, or how some people like to think of it “What’s the moat around your business”: Others don’t have access to college networks we do, and there can only be one powerful network. We just need to capture the market quickly.
You should understand the market better than most: Mark Zuckerburg: “I am college student!”
You should also have answers to most obvious questions, VCs have a lot of them: Q: How do you expand this out of colleges? Ans: People have friends outside college
VC’s also have a lot of “what ifs” where they move some pieces around in your business and try to understand your depth of understanding, conviction and ability to think critically: What happens once this leaves colleges how do we maintain the network effects? There are a lot of networks that follow similar structures like offices, hobby groups etc.
5. Why you are the right people to solve this problem (eg Google)
Bill Gross shows you data and says the team is the second most important factor in the success of a startup.
You should have an exceptional team, probably the hardest thing to achieve: Two Stanford Ph.D. candidates starting a company based on their area of research.
Having been at it for a long time helps. Having quit your job helps more:Working on this problem full time for 6 months, having dropped out of the Ph.D. programme
6. Why is now the best time ever to solve this problem (eg Coursera)
If you saw Bill Gross’ TED talk linked above, timing is the most important factor governing the success of a startup.
The same product at the wrong time most probably will not work :Stanford has been doing online courses for the last 5 years and last year we saw exponential growth in the number of external students taking the course. This is probably because of the price of the smartphone and access to internet.
7. What is your “Secret Sauce” Team/Experience/Technology etc. (eg Tesla)
Ideas are not funded because they are good?—?they have to be ideas that could be game changing and for a VC, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is the biggest reason to invest: The battery not lasting a long distance drive has been the biggest challenge which Tesla has now solved. Industry leaders are saying that this might be the decade’s biggest company.
8. Recent action (eg any new VR company)
Funding, new startups, news and announcements. People going gaga over something can be a reason for investment: Facebook bought Oculus for $1B.
9. Demonstrate scalability (eg Instacart)
Growing from 1–100 should be the same as going from 100–1M: There new users constantly signing up, but Instacart doesn’t add new delivery staff. It is a marketplace.
Show how you are a product. If you’re a service show you’re going to productize your service. Services driven business are harder to get money for and require more traction: Instacart is an aggregator , that aggregates the service providers and only owns the app.
10. Niche : what is the niche market you’re going after (eg Whatsapp)
Demonstrate what is the key demographic for your first win: These are going to be people who have migrated to the US and have family in other countries
11. Users (eg Pinterest)
User persona: 25 year old woman who lives in SF and has a college degree and hangs out in Cafes.
User behaviour and ideal product usage: Pinterest users should spend time scrolling through pins and pinning things they like. These will most probably be fashion items or home decor.
12. Projections for growth (eg Slack)
Revenues or users, depending on the sector: Growing at 2x MoM and all of these are paying customers.
13. The Ask.
Don’t forget to have an ask, even though this is difficult make sure you ask for what you need.
Putting a timeline on it also helps. “I need 300k at 1.2M pre money by August 1st is a good way to end the deck.”
We still don’t know how to raise an A round, if we do you will find updates about it here. You can checkout what we are building here: qbt.io/DRgv
The key insights
The Secret Sauce
Product Demo Image 1
Product Demo Image 2
We have excluded demonstrating scalability (since it wasn’t required in our case) and the ask since that is confidential.
We iterated away from this product for the reasons below:
- Data in general was moving to the cloud
- Public data is accessible from public services and not owned by a user
- Device proliferation has been slower than expected
We are now building a slightly different version of Cubeit which you can check out here http://qbt.io/DRgv.