Back in September 2021, Cloudsmith raised $15 million in Series A funding for its cloud platform that manages companies’ software supply chains. At the time, it was the largest Series A round for a Northern Ireland company since 2005, so it must be doing something right! I’m excited to check out Cloudsmith’s deck and see how it does it. The deck contains some edited numbers, but there’s still enough to get a good image.

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Slides in this deck

The presentation has 36 slides, 25 of which are main slides, eight are appendices, and three are addendums. While the numbers are high, there is still room for improvement. For example, I would delete unnecessary slides, such as the organizational chart (no one cares about it, and certainly not in the intro slide), and merge similar slides, such as the Competitors and Competitor Pricing slides. While there’s a lot to like about this deck, let’s take a closer look to identify other areas for improvement.

  1. coverslip
  2. mission
  3. generalize
  4. Problem/Cause Slide
  5. Questions/Impact Slides
  6. Solution – Logistics Slide
  7. Solution—Cloudsmith Slides
  8. case analysis
  9. Build Trust Slide (Customer List)
  10. product slideshow
  11. Ecosystem Slides
  12. Positioning slide rail
  13. Customer Segmentation Slide
  14. Listing Slides
  15. Market size slideshow
  16. Market Penetration Chart Slide
  17. Traction slide
  18. Forecast slides
  19. Pricing slides
  20. Partner slideshow
  21. Organization Chart
  22. Personnel Slide (Team)
  23. Fund usage slideshow
  24. Raising Series A Financing (Ideal Investor Slideshow)
  25. end slide
  26. Appendix interstitial
  27. route map
  28. product
  29. target flag
  30. competition
  31. “Why we won
  32. “What is your aspiration?
  33. competitive pricing
  34. Appendix interstitial
  35. net income retained
  36. growth plan

3 things to love about Cloudsmith’s pitch deck

Cloudsmith originally submitted its deck moon Before, every time I looked at it I would be frustrated by how many decks were modified. It’s hard to imagine what made investors hand over their cash. But even with the lack of information, there was still a lot to learn, so I decided to delve deeper. (Hey, startup founders: That’s your pretty obvious cue to submit your own deck to the Pitch Deck Teardown Series!)

Here are some of my favorite slides:

A promising summary

[Slide 3] I like the clear-cut approach here.
Image Source: Yunjiang

Cloudsmith’s summary slides effectively lay the foundation for a comprehensive and attractive company overview. It serves as an engaging introduction to the pitch deck, aiming to clearly articulate Cloudsmith’s business and its impressive performance to date. This virtually ensures that potential investors understand the prospects of the opportunity from the outset.

This slide captures the essence of Cloudsmith’s operations and achievements in a compact and powerful format. It delivers exciting key information and makes a compelling case for why investing is not just an opportunity but a strategic move for those looking to capitalize on emerging technology trends.

Although some of the data is redacted, the visible indicators are very promising, indicating strong performance and potential. Even the edited parts are “correct”. Hiding your NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a bit fishy – come on, it’s not much of a trade secret – but you definitely want to show your ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue), MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue), customer count wait.

However, the slides might have been more effective by including a financial “ask”: how much funding Cloudsmith is seeking and what the funds will be used for.Detailing the specific use of funds can help bridge the gap between investor interest and action, providing a stronger rationale for why to invest. Now Could be critical to Cloudsmith’s growth trajectory and help build a bit of FOMO immediately.

What to do now? What’s next?

[Slide 12] This is a great way to outline progress to date and use it as a bridge to where your company plans to go next. Great story in action!
Image Source: Yunjiang

Eye-catching “Now and Next” slides dynamically showcase the company’s major achievements and ambitious future plans. This slide cleverly blends past success with the desire for growth to provide investors with a compelling narrative.

This slide demonstrates Cloudsmith’s capabilities and solid foundation. It clarifies the company’s actual benefits and simplifies complex technical concepts for investors. This clarity ensures that even those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the technology can grasp the significant value that Cloudsmith brings to its customers.

The slide transitions from the present to the future, inviting investors to join the company in realizing a shared vision. The expansion plans outlined are not just about growth; They are also about leveraging existing strengths to build a prosperous future.

However, Claude Smith’s plan was not detailed enough to be entirely credible.This slide evoked in me “sure, yes, how are you going to Do That? ” rant. But I’m definitely watching this now and like the forward-looking implications of the massive growth the company envisions.

hello traction

[Slide 17] That’s traction. But why do we have to wait until slide 17 to see it?
Image Source: Yunjiang

The best form of traction is revenue, and Cloudsmith has a chart showing ARR from August 2019 to April 2021, and it looks healthy.Now, since the numbers have been redacted, I can’t be sure exactly how Healthy, but the charts pointed in the right direction, and Cloudsmith knew it needed to share the data.

The company also incorporates other useful metrics on its traction slides, including number of customers, LTV (lifetime value), and CAC (customer acquisition cost), among others. Again, these numbers are redacted, but assuming they’re healthy, this is a good example of what to include in a traction slide. There are no vanity metrics, nor is it an attempt to look into the future with a crystal ball, which by definition is not attractive.

Now, given that this is a Series A, we’re talking about growth here, and most growth rounds are done purely on traction. If you have it, fundraising will be very simple. If you don’t, you’re going to have a hard time. So I have to ask: why do we only see this chart on slide 17? If this were my pitch deck, this would be slide 3 or 4; this is exponential growth, and it looks great. Lead with this! !

Three things Cloudsmith could improve

Before you start throwing your deck into the general direction of venture capital, take a moment to calm down. Check each slide in the slideshow. Ask yourself, “Will this slide really help raise cash?” If not, ditch it. Sometimes, less is more. One killer slide packs more punch than a few lackluster slides. Cut out the fluff and let your audience focus on what really matters: your fundraising goals.

A quick shuffle helps reduce fat and simplify your deck:

  • Delete slides 2, 21, 24, 29 and 32.
  • Merge slides 30 and 33, then move to the main panel and create a single, better problem and solution slide.
  • Move slide 8 to the appendix and slides 28 and 31 to the main panel.

Okay, the reorganization is over.

Two solution slides? are you sure?

[Slides 6 and 7] Okay, but why two?
Image Source: Yunjiang

Let’s get real about solution slides: they should be your strategic trump card, not dive into the meat and potatoes. They should have a comprehensive understanding of how your company plans to solve the big, bad problems you pose. But the two slides we see now seem to have forgotten their purpose in life and got lost in the weeds. It’s like Cloudsmith is trying to show off how much it knows instead of focusing on the strategic overview. Keep it up guys.

Slide 6 is strutting around with three boxes, screaming, “I’m useful!” but whispering, “I’m not solving any problems.” Sure, it’s full of information, but it’s like That guest at the party talked a lot without actually saying anything important (I know this all too well because I’m often that guest, but hear me out). These boxes may feel good about themselves, but they do nothing to move us toward solutions. It’s time to refocus and make sure every element on your slides contributes to the solution, not just takes up space.

Don’t get me started on the complete problem/solution quartet. The company’s narrative is clear as mud. Four text-dense slides may seem like a good idea at the time, but in reality, they’re just homework for your audience. If you pair bloated Slide 5 with lean Slide 7, you’ll get a clearer problem statement and a solution that doesn’t require a map and compass to understand. Instead, remove the clutter and make it easy for everyone to see the genius of your solution.

hello face

[Slide 22] So, who are we talking to?
Image Source: Yunjiang

Oh, Cloudsmith, your team slides are a paradox in PowerPoint. It somehow manages to give too much and too little at the same time: a magic trick that investors don’t want to see. A lot of details about the core team aren’t exactly what’s needed to wow investors at this stage. They want to know something interesting about why your founder was chosen to lead this business. You’re kidding with hints, but come on, tell the full story. Get a deeper understanding of why they are the captain of this ship. When you do, enter their LinkedIn profile. This is the digital age; investors will keep track. Make it easy for them.

Speaking of unnecessary information, while it’s nice to know who’s keeping the ship steady, there’s no need for a play-by-play A-Series look at each core team member. A quick mention of your head count will make things interesting. It gives you a glimpse of your size and scope without bogging everyone down in the details. Stay fluid, smart, and focus on what really matters: convincing investors you have the best team to make it happen, As the crypto kids like to say.

Here’s some money – now tell me what you’re going to spend it on exist

[Slide 23] Well, even if I wasn’t blue/blue colorblind, this would be hard to read.
Image Source: Yunjiang

Could this half-assed financial puzzle be any murkier? It circles around the topic of money like a hot stove, vaguely hinting at how the company will spend the money but staying tight-lipped about the actual amount it hopes to raise. Here’s a tip: When you ask for money, don’t be shy. Spell it out loud and clear. How much do you need? Don’t keep investors guessing or they might second guess themselves outside the meeting room.

On this issue, give up the percentage. They are just as useful as a chocolate teapot. Use hard numbers, dates and details. Tell us when you plan to recruit these key employees and how much these new knights in shining armor will cost you. More importantly, what dragon are they trying to kill? List the goals these employees will help you achieve, and for clarity, be specific—how, what, when, where, and why. Provide investors with a roadmap, not just a destination.

Now, about those goals: You have ambitions, but how are you going to turn those daydreams into reality? What needs to happen? Do you need people, tools and infrastructure? How much do these dreams cost? Once you have all of this sorted out, you’ll be dazzled by the potential benefits. What wonders will these investments do for your company? Remember, the emphasis here is on SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Tell investors what they will get for their money, and make it clear that if you achieve these goals, you will be able to raise a significant amount of Series B funding to continue chasing ARR numbers.

Complete pitch materials

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