I watched & analyzed the top20 pitches from the Slush 100 pitching competition.
Here are the data & learnings from these great pitches.
But first, let's go through what Slush 100 is all about & how Slush is supporting these companies.
The main prize is a 1,000,000€ investment from Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA, and Northzone. These VC's have backed the likes of Meta, Stripe, ByteDance, Airbnb, Snap, Uber, Spotify, Salesforce, Slack, Instacart, and Klarna.
This year Slush got more than 1000 applications to the Slush 100 competition.
The VCs = Judges are evaluating these four categories in the pitches:
1) Team & Founder-market-fit = Is this the right team to solve this problem?
2) Is the problem big enough & is it the right time to solve this problem?
3) Solution to the problem & is there some traction etc., excellent customer feedback, paying customers, growth numbers.
4) Clarity of pitch & communication. Is it easy to understand what this company is doing?
Slush is also supporting the participants of the competition in the following ways:
1) The top 100 are getting written feedback from the investors
2) The top 20 can chat with the investors & get feedback on how to make their pitches even better.
3) The top 20 had a chance to meet iconic founders of later-stage companies from roughly similar industries to get valuable learnings for scaling.
4) The top 20 will get live mentoring about building their company the day before the Slush from five selected VCs.
Let's go to the data (based on my opinions from the pitches). From all the 20 companies:
🚀 14 companies started the pitch with their name & company
🚀 1 started the pitch on what their product does
🚀 2 started the pitch with the problem
🚀 3 started the pitch with a great story
🚀 2 had no pitch deck
🚀 15 shared about the market size in the pitch & its growth
🚀 9 showed the actual product/video in a significant way
🚀 4 mentioned success stories from the same field
🚀 18 talked about the problem they are solving in a way that I understood
🚀 20 talked about the product
🚀 14 talked about their business model
🚀 20 talked about the team
🚀 6 shared they are raising funding
🚀 14 talked about traction: sales, customers, growth, etc
🚀 16 had a boring ending like talk to you soon, see you at Slush, etc
🚀 4 had a super strong ending of pitch
From there, we can easily see a few things:
The easiest way to be different:
1) Don't use slides
2) Start with a great story
3) Strong ending
It's also good to remember that being different doesn't always mean it's a good idea. E.g., I remember the pitches without slides, but they were the hardest to follow.
And what comes to the must-haves:
1) Talk about the problem
2) Talk about the team
3) Talk about the market
4) Talk about how you solved the problem
5) Talk about how you make money
Let's break down a perfect pitch based on these.
To be honest, I'm not an expert in pitching, but it's always fun to try out new things. Based on this data, I would include the following things in my pitch:
1) Strong start with a story where you share the problem
2) Present yourself
3) Share your solution to the problem & why it's better than alternatives
4) Share about the market & that the market is growing
5) Share why you are the best team to solve this problem
6) Share about the traction you have had so far
7) Have a strong ending.
Here are my comments on all the pitches in detail. How do they pitch? What would I do in a different way & who are my guesses for the top 3?
First of all. These are my notes & the main reason for these is to understand what a person checking out these pitches is thinking. These notes hopefully bring value, especially for the people doing these pitches!
1) Started with name & company name
2) Shared what they do in the beginning
3) Went to share about the market & how the market is growing
4) Gave a few examples of successful companies in the field
5) It Felt like he talked super fast
6) Talked about the problem & why build the product.
7) Shared a bit about the product and what they have done in the past.
8) Talked about the traction & how much sales so far.
9) Talked about the business model.
10) Shared the team and who are the prominent people of the team (one exit)
11) Showed MVP promotion video as part of the presentation --> Good vibes but too long.
12) Thank you for your attention --> Not a super good ending
What I would focus on: too much stuff for 3 minutes, making him talk super fast.
1) Shared name & company & what they are doing.
2) Shared a journey from the past regarding cancer.
3) Cancer is killer number 2 & the market is growing.
4) Passionate team of doctors, AI & Product engineers. (And shared why they are a winning team.
5) Talked about the problem & manual tasks around this.
6) Then, talk about their product & what they are doing exactly.
7) In 7 years, they will be leading the platform -- I didnt buy the idea
8) Talked openly that most of the companies around this sector don't work - Liked this.
9) They talked about who they will be hiring - I might need to sell to them!
10) Talked about potential customers & traction they have now --> Quite early on.
What I would focus on: Talking more about the traction.
1) Started with a question: Did you know....? Liked this!
2) Shared what's the problem & she's part of the problem
3) Shared name & the company
4) Shared that the market is growing & what the market size is
5) Shared more about why the problem is import
6) Shared about the solution - I felt it must be in the market already.
7) Interesting business model through b2b - I was sure it would be b2b
8) Answered my previous question in the following phrases
9) Shared also shared about other players in the market & how they are different
10) Shared about their team
11) Good call to action in the end to download the app
What I would focus on: Even more focus on why they are different since there are other market players and the thing she mentioned to be different seemed relatively easy to copy for the other players.
1) Good morning -- Didn't say who he is in the beginning
2) Focused on the product first -- Only after that who he is.
3) Talked about the team & why they would be a great team.
4) Started to talk about product & what they do: Not the problem first? Surprising.
5) Then, we started to talk about the market a bit more and shared why the problem is essential.
6) Quite a text-heavy slide --> Hard to follow for the speak & read simultaneously.
7) Shared the business model regarding subscriptions & they are taking from customers.
8) Talked about traction -- How fast they are growing
9) Shared they are raising a seed round
10) No strong ending.
What I would focus on: Talk about the problem first, edit the slides for not so text-heavy
1) First one without a slide deck.
2) Presented herself & company.
3) Talked about the problem & how she has been part of the problem - Liked this!
4) Shared about the things this problem is creating for women.
5) Shared what they do in 3 steps. Clear structure.
6) Shared why current ways of fixing things won't work.
7) "The support they need" --> 4 minutes instead of 4 months. This is a great value prop!
8) Month-over-month growth-rate & 1me ARR.
9) Organic growth & building a community.
10) Shared where they focus on the next 18 months --> Need to hire top talents for this.
11) "See you on stage" is a better ending than for most!
My guess for the top 3.
What would I focus on? Should you have slides? Share the business model a bit more.
1) We are Laavu Performance --> "We want to do."
2) Didn't present herself
3) Started to talk about the problem & how much it costs to have?
4) Shared why they chose leadership as a focus
5) Subscription model.
6) Bridge the gap --> Made me understand where they position.
7) Talked openly about the pricing & monthly subscription.
8) Talked about their model of working with customers.
9) "No European business leader" --> Why focus European market?
10) Shared about the market & how much it's growing.
11) Shared their growth numbers 10% / month over month.
12) 50k MRR
13) Behind the Laavu is a couple - Nice that they are sharing this!
14) Rami's "Camoon" & clapping, in the end, made it.
15) Question: Are they a tech company, platform company, or service business?
16) "Are you ready to start minding your own business?" --> Best ending so far.
What would I focus on? --> I would like to understand the tech or platform part better.
1) Shared name, role & Company
2) Shared what the company is doing
3) Talked super-fast
4) Started to share about the problem & why the problem is growing
5) New social media version --> I liked the idea of a bottle post.
6) Talked about how they are different --> This was easy to understand
7) 200k active users & shared other numbers as well
8) Shared the founding team --> CTO & introvert.
9) Shared about how big the opportunity is.
10) 3x more time than Reddit & Discord --> Why compare against those & not the others? It felt like because of 3x.
11) Boring ending.
Will be in the Top 3
What would I focus on? --> Better ending for the pitch and sharing more on how they make money (I assume it's ads).
1) Shared who he is & the role
2) Started with a story of being a CMO & imagine being that person
3) Then, they shared what that person would typically do.
4) From that point of view, start to explain more about the problem.
5) Then started to share about their platform & how it's easy to start
6) Workaround NFT -> It Took a bit to understand what they are doing, but I understood it in the end.
7) Shared about the team & why you should trust them and their background.
8) Shared about the pre-seed round --> Accelerator
9) Shared about their big customers
10) Not a super strong ending -- See you in Slush
What would I focus on? Share a bit more about how to use the platform/use case + their business model.
1) Name, profile & the company
2) "How are we doing?" -- Shared what they do
3) Shared three options you have regarding data (+ what's good & bad in these. Mostly focusing on bad & the problems of each of them.)
4) Founder the problem personally and decided to solve it
5) No code for 3rd party data API
6) Showed example data on their website with interactive with different data points.
7) Burger examples stand out.
8) Shared about traction & how they are growing
9) Shared about their partners.
10) 30-40% of users return after 18 weeks --> People like it.
11) Shared about the market size & how big it is.
12) Shared the team, who they are, and why they are a great fit.
13) See you soon -- Boring ending.
My guess for the Top 3
What would I focus on? Felt like they were overselling the problem & that all the other options were super bad.
1) Name, role & Company
2) What does the company does & who are they helping
3) Talked about the problem & market - 80% of the market uses phones when building. website
4) 3 months ago & 5000 companies as a customer - Shared who they are
5) 40 820 mrr in 3 months. 700kmrr next summer.
6) Shared how the tool works with the phone - Super clear.
7) Is there anything similar?
8) It Felt like selling the product to a customer at some point.
9) Shared how much customers are using the product.
10) Target companies don't use laptops.
11) SaaS Freemium with the 7-day trial? Free trial or Freemium?
12) Used influencers for growth.
13) Shared CAC & LTV.
14) Shared the team and who they are. - Would have focused on why they are focusing.
15) Stronger ending if you want to join the story.
What would I focus on more? - Freemium or Free-trial got me confused. Would you highlight the competition if there is anyone else in the market?
1) Name, role & what they are.
2) Shared their mission and why they are here.
3) Got an understanding straight away of what they do.
4) Shared a story about if we go out together.
5) 14% of the time, I will find the information.
6) Would I go outside if I don't know -- Feeling about the problem.
7) 1,3billion market.(Surprising)
8) Data Platform around this information.
9) Would people use it separately? - Or should it be part of TripAdvisor etc.?
10) Shared about the team?
11) Revenue from Enterprise - Are people ready to pay?
12) Great customers in the beginning
13) Team, product & impact - Loved this.
What would I focus more on? - Business model & integration to Trip Advisor etc.?
1) Name, Role & what they do.
2) Talked about the challenge that marketers are facing.
3) Talked about how much publishing new sites to your website costs.
4) Can reduce development cost
5) Shared how the product is working - No code platform - Would have loved to see more cleared use-case example
6) Shared how big the market is.
7) Why now & why we? They talked about how they had seen the problem & why their team would be the best.
8) "What will the future look like? - Good ending - would have skipped the thank you in the end
What would I focus more on? Simple Use-case example from reality.
HATO Medical Technologies:
1) Start with a story from the patient & doctor and what happened there.
2) Shared the role & who he is.
3) Talked about the problem & why it isn't easy
4) It Made me understand that even though I don understand the problem personally
5) Super nice & smooth to listen to.
6) Shared how they are different from current technologies.
7) Best & Passionate team & who they are.
8) Came back to the story in the beginning.
What would I focus more on? Traction so far.
1) Technical Mamboo Jamboo, in the beginning, got my attention.
2) Name & what they are doing and what's his background
3) Talked about the problem & why it's a big problem.
4) How much time it takes for the companies
5) People want to use AI for this, but it's hard now.
6) You can create a lot of plug-ins - I came up with many examples of how we could use them in our day-to-day life.
7) How they are different - No man's land - Empty space - Is it?
8) Launched the product, paying customers (would like to know how many), raising seed-round
9) Thank you for your time & see you soon
What would I focus more on? -One clear use case would have been a great addition.
1) Who & what company
2) What is happening in the market at the moment & how fast it's growing?
3) What is the problem in the market
4) How are they solving the problem
5) I Didn't understand straight away what they were doing at the beginning (maybe my English skills)
6) Shared about their competition, for what money they were sold, and how they differ.
7) Shared the team & what is driving them & their background
8) Shared the traction & how much they are growing.
9) I Felt like they were talking super fast & in a hurry and had no time for breathing.
10) Strong ending: If you have the guts, join us
What would I change? Talk a bit less and not that fast- Hard to follow.
1) Good afternoon & thanks for the opportunity
2) Shared her journey
3) 21 visas & waiting for decisions. Understood the problem straight away from that.
4) Double-sided problem both for talent and for countries as well with a talent shortage.
5) Shared what they are doing - Was easy to understand.
6) Traction: revenue is growing.
7) Individual & team relocation.
8) Goal: where they want to go next.
9) Question: How are they making money?
10) The team - Tried the tool - And wanted to join the team.
What would I focus on: How are they making money? Seems like a one-off business model & not a subscription.
1) 5 to 15€ - How much do food and delivery cost? A strong start and got my attention.
2) Why the problem is significant in the market.
3) Put the video running with music. Liked the vibe.
4) Shared a new model for food delivery. I got the idea of what they were doing straight away.
5) 120me in revenue in the first area? Really?
6) 5 pilot projects - Then goes to public pilots.
7) Shared the founding team.
What would I focus on more? I didn't buy the revenue and felt like overselling.
1) Walking & talking. No slides.
2) Shared how you can do the thing at the moment.
3) Shared what they are doing
4) Used glass, tv & other stuff for the presentation and continued to walk.
5) Shared the market where they are focusing until 2024.
6) 500k revenue next year? -Where are they now?
7) Shared the investment rounds this year - showed from tv but couldn't see - share the numbers.
8) Shared the whole team on the video.
9) Ciao from Italy was a fun ending!
What would focus more: Sharing precisely what they are doing & where the traction is currently.
1) Name, co-founder, company
2) Started from the problem and is it familiar.
3) 1200 times changing windows - Wow!
4) Mental problems.
5) Shared about the team in this place.
6) What they are solving & what they are building.
7) "Beam you into focus" - Get where the name came from.
8) Data flywheel - Helps anyone understand the context to prioritize & align.
9) Manually onboarded 300 users - They want to onboard their teams; 2/3 use the tool daily.
10) Git-Hub co-founder as an investor.
11) Join our waitlist - Better ending than for post pitches
What would focus more? - Traction & business model (is someone paying already?)
1) Name & background.
2) I remember waking up to +100 emails. (Easy to get the problem).
3) Meeting the other founder and how they started to build the product.
4) Shared about the problem and how they talked with the market.
5) Would like to see an exact use case of the product.
6) Has competition: liked they were true about this.
7) Focusing on one market - When are other companies focusing there?
8) Are you a contract tool? - Though it's an email tool in the beginning.
9) Opening Seed round soon
10) Talked Spanish in the end! Liked it.
What I would focus on more: In the beginning, I thought it was an email tool: how to make sure to position the right way from the beginning.
See you in Slush! You can easily recognize me from this yellow hoodie! Come and say hi 🙌
And that's it! My notes from the Slush 100 pitching competition. Hopefully, you enjoyed it. Make sure to subscribe to my weekly newsletter and share this article if you got some value.
-Samuli, CEO & Co-Founder of Talentbee.io