On Tuesday I mated Arkive’s $9.7 million funding round, a startup trying to answer the question, “What if the Smithsonian was owned and operated by the Internet?”
The company’s founder and CEO, Tom McLeod, was kind enough to let me take a look at the pitch deck he used to raise their seed round for our pitch deck teardown series here on BestFitnessBands+. Let’s go there!
We’re looking for more unique pitch decks to break down, so if you’d like to submit your own pitch decks, here’s how.
Slides in this deck
Arkive’s deck is a rock-solid, to-the-point deck that crams a lot of detail into just 12 slides:
- cover slide
- mission slide
- problem slide
- Solution slide
- Business model dia
- Value proposition slide
- Roadmap slide
- Market context slide
- Market size slide
- Milestones and the next slide
- team slide
- closing slide
The card game has a small number of editors; the team reports that it has removed the following information:
- Required amount and valuation.
- Specific timeline of product features.
Three things to love
Immediately this slide deck screams “good storytelling” as well as “experienced entrepreneur”. The first because the story flows effortlessly and clearly from one slide to the next. Very few of the slides, as many founders choose for clarity, are labeled “product” or “roadmap.” Both the content and the design ensure that you know exactly which part of the story you are looking at.
Here are a few things I think Arkive did particularly well:
Planting the seed of a dreamEarly-stage startups can only share so much about their traction. If you have customers, they may not be fully representative of your ultimate customers. If you have a beta product, it will evolve as you learn more about the problem space you are in and the needs and wants of the customers.
So what’s left? You’re selling the dream – and my god, Arkive knocked that particular ball out of the park.
Love or loathe the idea, “What if the Smithsonian was owned and curated by the Internet?” is a great conversation starter. It also serves a more subtle purpose – for some of the potential investors, this slide will keep them from getting out of the deal right away.
Make it easier for investors to paint your dream into numbers – it makes it much easier to say an enthusiastic “yes!” to support your business.
That can be an advantage, as it is nearly impossible to convince people who have made a decision about crypto, blockchain, museum management or fractal ownership to get excited about Arkive. As a result, investors who: to be excited about this space are invited to increase their excitement with a very simple slide.
The slide references the market, suggests the solution Arkive is building, and communicates the company’s goals and missions. It’s simple, effective and shows a clear vision that I rarely see with founders in this context.
There’s one lesson to take from this: If you’re having trouble coming up with a vision as clear as this one, ask yourself if you fully understand your market, the problem you’re solving, and the solutions you’re proposing.
It was that, now it’s thisAs a founder, you have to really, completely believe that you are going to change the world or something important in it. If that’s not true, the first thing I’d ask is why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you’re smart and persistent enough to think you’re going to start a business, why waste that talent on something trivial?
Few founders pause long enough to consider that investors are quite similar in their motivations. Yes, they try to create an outrageous return on their LPs, but for many VCs that’s the ‘what’ and maybe the ‘how’, but not the ‘why’.
I love this slide because it plants a bold post in the ground and is a stark contrast between the old (traditional museums) and the new (Arkive). It uses the buzzwords crowdsourcing, equality and speaking democratic truth to a traditionally elite group of curators.
For investors who care about diversity, inclusion and social justice, the message is perfect: will this be the first time there will be real representation in art and artifact curation? And on the other hand, for investors who couldn’t wring out any copulation to make the world a better place, the slide does something different: it highlights a market that is staggeringly low on innovation and may prove ripe for financial disruption.
I wish the slide had fewer words (maybe Arkive could have made a deck with fewer words for presentation purposes), but that minor niggle aside, I think it’s almost perfect. It takes out the contrasts and effectively outlines the playing field, while leaving plenty of room for fruitful and interesting discussions about Arkive’s visions for the future.
Let’s talk about the business modelA startup’s business model should be like a flywheel that builds momentum as the company grows and evolves.
This slide outlines two key components of that business model. First, it outlines the path for user acquisition and explains how the company plans to handle some of its marketing. It also explains the “How will this thing make money?” ask without too many irrelevant details.
This slide in particular made me realize that the founding team is extremely experienced. Rather than just looking at one piece of the puzzle separately, they have instead identified and articulated how all the pieces come together, while focusing on the user acquisition aspect of the business model.
The effect is simple yet powerful. From the slide alone I can tell what I would have said to pitch it, but I interviewed McLeod, the co-founder of the company, so I know he’s a good presenter and can talk about his vision with a lot of passion. to talk. Each of the four boxes on this slide is a door that is ajar and invites a conversation.
In the rest of this teardown, we’ll take a look at three things Arkive could have improved or done differently, along with the full pitch deck!