Raising capital is not easy. Yet a lot of well-known start-ups, such as Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn, YouTube and Tinder did it before you. Together they raised billions(!) of capital.Since they too started out small, we collected five historical pitch decks of successful start-ups and show you what lessons you can learn from those early experiences.

Uber: $21.7 billion raised

Year of pitch: 2008

This is Uber’ s first pitch deck, then called UberCab. It was shared in 2017 by co-founder Garrett Camp at the time of the scandals surrounding CEO Travis Kalanick. This presentation mainly shows how start-ups can sometimes evolve very quickly. In the original pitch deck, Uber was a taxi service that would buy its own cars and employ drivers. Nevertheless, the core of what would become the later Uber is already visible: they show how the taxi industry works poorly and want to fix it via an app.

Lessons learned from Uber:

  • Start with the problem. From hard to order to licensing issues, the first two slides of the decade-old pitch deck still demonstrate crystal clear what’s wrong with the taxi industry in a lot of cities today.

  • Use an analogy
    . This is perhaps slightly ironic, as after Uber there was a lot of criticism of start-ups calling themselves the Uber of their industry. But comparing yourself to another company can help explain your product. In this case, Uber calls itself the “NetJets of car services” (NetJets is a company that rents out private jets).
  • Show the risks. Because Uber’s business model would completely change, this slide has never been accurate, but here they show the possible outcomes of their start-up and where the risks lie. The fact that you also assess the risks is always a plus for investors.

LinkedIn: $154.8 million raised

Year of pitch: 2004

This is probably the most useful pitch deck for start-ups. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and later venture capitalist, decided to share the pitch deck that LinkedIn used to raise its $10 million B round. When he did, he was already a venture capitalist, so with each slide he took notes communicating context, logic and tips. A must-read.

Lessons learned from LinkedIn:

  • Put yourself in the investors’ shoes and think about what they want. That’s one of the first tips he gives, and doing research that way is crucial according to Hoffman.
  • Show how you keep up with trends. In their pitch deck, they show in depth how Linkedin is keeping up with a wave of networked services.

Airbnb: $4.4 billion raised

Year of pitch: 2011

There is some confusion online about when this
pitch deck
was made, but everything points to 2008. After all, the name Airbnb didn’t appear until 2009. The year 2008 was very early in Airbnb’s development, and the company did not have the shape it has now. Nevertheless, a lot of Airbnb’s core concepts are already in this pitch deck, and already show very clearly where they want to go.

Lessons Learned from Airbnb:

  • Describe your startup in one sentence. “Book rooms with locals, not hotels,” succinctly describes what Airbnb does and what it stands for. Being able to do that at your start-up is also a very useful skill.

  • Show that your start-up has a market
    . Airbnb did this by showing the number of users of Couchsurfing and the number of room rental listings on Craigslist, demonstrating that there was a market for their product.
  • Do an analysis of your competitors. Because you’re a startup doing something new, it’s easy to say you have no competition, but there are always companies that are in the same sphere.So do a strong analysis of the competition.

YouTube: $11.5 million capital raised

Year of pitch: 2005

This is the
pitch deck
with which YouTube raised its Series A from Sequoia Capital, a whopping $3.5 million round. During a lawsuit, this pitch deck had to be released by Sequoia. Eventually, YouTube would pick up another B round from Sequoia, and then be acquired by Google for a whopping $1.7 billion. In this pitch deck , a lot of features of Youtube are already well established, and they show how they have very quickly become the reference in the field of online video streaming.

Lessons Learned from Youtube:

  • Less is more. Almost all of the above pitch decks are short, and so they should be. Investors are busy, so try to make your point in 10 to 15 slides. The exception, of course, is LinkedIn’s pitch deck, but that was because they were trying to pick up a big B round.
  • Show your team. Okay, not all pitch decks do this, and it’s not always relevant. Butyour team is still a core aspect of your startup. Showing who you are and what you can do is therefore important.
  • If you have numbers: show them. One of the main arguments to invest in Youtube in 2005 was that they had strong usage figures .

We sum up all the lessons learned for your next pitch deck:

  • Start with the problem.
  • Use an analogy.
  • Show the risks.
  • Think about what the person wants for you.
  • Show how you keep up with trends.
  • Describe your start-up in one sentence.
  • Show that your start-up has a market.
  • Do an analysis of your competitors.
  • Show that you know your user.
  • Less is more. Keep your pitch short and sweet.
  • Show your team.
  • Show your numbers when you have them.

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