Pitch Deck Teardown: Equals’ $16M Sequence A deck


It’s a uncommon startup that tears down its personal pitch deck, however that’s precisely what Equals did after it raised a $16 million Sequence A spherical. Equals’ mission is to not change the spreadsheet, however to make sure that a spreadsheet can do no matter its customers throw at it. As an inveterate spreadsheet person, that is an method that I can get behind — I’ve constructed complete software program options with extraordinarily complicated spreadsheets because the again finish.

Moreover, as a pitch deck connoisseur, I may also get behind the intense and daring design of Equals’ deck.

I notably loved a take I’ve not usually seen in deck design, which is breaking down the deck into two completely different sections: a pitch deck and an information deck. The latter offers a breakdown of the corporate’s financials over seven slides, exhibiting ARR, lead-to-customer conversion charges, churn, and different figures. It’s a good suggestion: I usually advise startups to inform the story with phrases, then inform the identical story with numbers.

Let’s see what else there’s to like about this deck.


We’re in search of extra distinctive pitch decks to tear down, so if you wish to submit your personal, right here’s how you are able to do that.


Slides on this deck

Figures from the 2 traction slides have been redacted, and there’s a lot of (redacted) information in a separate information deck. There aren’t any market dimension and go-to-market slides both, however we’ll get to that later.

  1. Cowl slide
  2. Opening assertion
  3. Mission slide
  4. Downside slide
  5. Answer/mission slide
  6. Product (“Meet Equals”)
  7. Product demo slide
  8. Product validation slide
  9. Traction slide
  10.   Traction 2 slide
  11.   Product highlights slide
  12.   Product roadmap slide
  13.   Group slide
  14.   Ask and use of funds slide
  15.   Closing slide

Three issues to like

I’ve already given Equals kudos for the design, however this deck is placing sufficient that it’s value mentioning once more: It is a handsome deck. Listed below are a number of different issues that stood out to me:

Making it actual

For some time, it’s appeared as if the simplest technique to construct a profitable software program startup was to search out one thing folks use Excel for, then construct a software that’s higher, extra centered and simpler to make use of. That’s labored effectively for numerous companies, so it’s a daring endeavor to tackle Excel at its house turf, by changing a spreadsheet with . . . a spreadsheet. Airtable has had some success on this area, so one of many first issues that springs to thoughts is whether or not there’s room for one more firm on this vertical.

Equals makes a complete and compelling argument for a powerful sure to that query by itemizing out quite a lot of use circumstances for its software program:

[Slide 4] Right here’s an issue slide for you . . .  Picture Credit: Equals

The issue appears actual sufficient, however it appears largely to do with the provenance of knowledge and information evaluation/algorithms. And positive, Excel recordsdata will be difficult, however Excel itself has a comparatively sturdy on-line resolution as effectively now (so the assertion “Excel has not” feels barely hyperbolic). We even have Google Sheets, Airtable and a ton of different potential opponents within the area.

Nonetheless, within the dry and boring world of spreadsheets, that is in all probability essentially the most enjoyable technique to define the issue you’re attempting to resolve. I prefer it!

So it’s Excel, however extra on-line

[Slide 6] Right here’s the place the magic occurs. Picture Credit: Equals

Founders, particularly technical founders, usually face an incredible problem when attempting to clarify what their startup does in easy phrases. I’m actually impressed that Equals’ group managed to distill the product right down to one thing this easy: Spreadsheets, however with database connections and collaboration. That quite simple assertion hides lots of technical complexity and what will need to have been an absolute nightmare of an integration problem.

However hiding the complexity is a superb concept: The tip customers don’t wish to know why their spreadsheet received’t connect with the Stripe information supply. They simply want it to work.

Fairly elegant. Very effectively accomplished.

That’s the way you map a path to the longer term!

[Slide 12] Such an effective way to map your close to future. Picture Credit: Equals

Buyers not often care about this degree of granularity in your product roadmap, however they’re not uncurious, ? It is a nice tough overview of what you care about and doesn’t go into the weeds in regards to the nuts and bolts of what the engineering group will probably be constructing.

Regardless that this plan is fairly technical, I’m impressed by the group’s skill to withstand the temptation to enter an excessive amount of right here. I’ve no concept what they’re going to hyperlink Command + Okay to, however it doesn’t actually matter — it is a nice top-level view that may let you might have a board-level dialog in regards to the product priorities for the subsequent yr.

I’ve no concept what they’re going to hyperlink Command + Okay to, however it doesn’t actually matter.

Equals has additionally accomplished one thing intelligent with the previous slide: Slide 11 exhibits the options which have already been constructed, which then permits the narrative to stream evenly to this slide (with the prevailing options now highlighted in grey). This allows you to have a two-step dialog in regards to the product: Speak about every little thing you’ve constructed, then speak about every little thing you’re going to construct and the way that helps the product grow to be extra related to your audience — and possibly develop the potential person base as effectively.

As a startup, you may study from this slide that you shouldn’t spend an excessive amount of time in your product. These two slides are an ideal instance of how one can sidestep that drawback with finesse.

In the remainder of this teardown, we’ll check out three issues Equals may have improved or accomplished otherwise, together with its full pitch deck!

Three issues that could possibly be improved

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in Equals’ deck . . .

Be conscious of your viewers

A fairly widespread drawback with pitch decks is that it’s generally laborious to inform whether or not the founders perceive who they’re speaking to. Try this testimonials slide:

[Slide 8] Yeah, however do the traders care? Picture Credit: Equals

I’ve little question that it is a highly effective slide to make use of within the firm’s gross sales operation when speaking to new shoppers. However I’m unsure how efficient it’s as a part of an funding pitch.

I can see a number of points right here:

  • I don’t know what any of these logos are. Okay superb, I acknowledged Notion, however I don’t know what Levity is or does, and I don’t acknowledge the V emblem. That implies that two of the three logos on this slide aren’t serving to persuade me to speculate. So why use them?
  • Two quotes and one unaccredited set of statements don’t actually function a very robust set of testimonials.
  • Within the closing testimonial, the road “I don’t see it going anyplace anytime quickly” will be simply misconstrued. I’m assuming the individual meant that their product is right here to remain, however that’s not 100% clear from the quote.
  • It’s poor kind to have quotes with out correctly attributing them to somebody. Who mentioned these good issues? If it have been the CTO of an organization, it is best to positively spotlight that. Give it some thought this fashion: In case you attribute “It is a actually good product” to “an Apple worker,” would that be an excellent factor? If Tim Prepare dinner mentioned it, that’d be fairly nice. If some random gross sales flunky in an Apple Retailer mentioned it . . .  what I’m getting at.

General, this slide appears impartial at greatest — a minimum of in terms of convincing an investor to speculate. So it’s in all probability secure to simply go away it out of the deck altogether.

So . . . how large is that this market?

Maybe I’m selecting at nits right here. Ask any investor, “If I can steal 30% of Excel’s enterprise, is the market sufficiently big?” and also you’ll in all probability get a powerful sure.

The factor is, this deck can also be lacking a go-to-market slide. Meaning Equals is lacking out on two alternatives to inform traders the way it is considering its market. Who’re the shoppers? What number of of them are there? What’s the worth prop? How do you attain these prospects? How do you persuade them to remain? You’ll must reply that cadre of inquiries to efficiently increase cash — and it’s a bit skinny on the bottom on this deck.

What are the objectives, although?!

[Slide 14] Erm, positive, however that is method too imprecise. Picture Credit: Equals

Buyers usually are not in search of a ballpark determine or a imprecise plan in terms of how your startup will use the funds raised. A well-crafted “use of funds” slide does extra than simply checklist bills; it builds belief. By being clear about your monetary wants and the way they align with your online business objectives, you’re exhibiting potential traders that you just’re not simply one other startup trying to burn money. No, as an alternative, you’re a severe entrepreneur with a plan for development and a transparent imaginative and prescient for the longer term.

I do know many founders hit upon this important slide. Glamorous however pointless bills, a nebulous abyss of “miscellaneous” prices, and imprecise descriptions of how the funds will probably be used are only a few widespread pitfalls that may flip traders away. Equals falls prey to such a lure: None of those objectives are almost particular sufficient. The slide ought to be as clear and detailed as potential, keep away from generalizations, and give attention to particular, measurable, achievable, related and time-bound (SMART) objectives.

  • “Scale advertising and marketing”: Positive, however to what?
  • “Scale success”: Sure, however what’s the aim? How have you learnt you’re profitable?
  • “Speed up tempo”: Effectively, sure, however should you wrote 10 new items earlier than the fundraising and managed 11 afterward, you’ve hit that aim.

Be particular. Use your “use of funds” slide effectively. This isn’t the time for abstraction, however for daring, particular, quantified audacity. This slide is the place you spell out your imaginative and prescient in {dollars} and cents, and should you do it appropriately, it’s the place traders will start to see their futures aligning with yours.

Crucially, a well-designed “use of funds” slide helps paint the image to your subsequent funding spherical. In case you hit all of the objectives, are you able to increase the Sequence B? Nice! Does your plan set you up for fulfillment? Unbelievable!

This slide is sort of ineffective, which is such a disgrace. Larger precision right here would make fundraising so a lot simpler.

The total pitch deck


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