Deconstruct and assess a pitch deck


Each year, thousands of companies prepare pitch-decks to raise money. A single investor might see 2500 decks

per year and spend about 4 minutes on each. So, pitch decks must be concise and focused. In contrast, companies spend 2 weeks to 2 months creating them and tweak them repeatedly. So, pitch-decks are abbreviated business communications much like resumes!


Some important facts to remember

¾ The industry standard template was created by Sequoia Investments. We will use it.

¾ Since pitches are read on phones, this means they are read at 10 cm by 15 cm in size. Text size is key.

¾ Since pitches are assessed in about 4 minutes, organization and content flow is critical.

¾ Typically, early-stage companies will have less data than later-stage companies. (2015) reviewed the pitch-decks of about 200 companies. These companies raised $360 million with these decks. It was found that investors look longer at the financials and team slides than any others, including the product and problem descriptions.

Learning Outcomes

¾ Learn to do business research and interpret business data.

¾ Identify and critique the structure and components of successful pitch-decks.

¾ Assess any gaps in how the content contributed to successful fund raising.

¾ Display critical thought with respect to content and presentation.

Assignment Structure

This assignment is done individually and results in a written report. You will chose two companies from a list,

dimension the companies, profile them, compare their pitch deck to the industry standard template in terms of format and content, make recommendations and then reflect. Since these are real pitch decks, there will be both strengths and weaknesses for you to find.

Students Must

¾ Complete all parts of the assignment and submit a signed Declaration of Individual Academic Integrity.

¾ Do independent research and think critically about the data.

¾ Dimension the companies by synthesizing relevant corporate website and other internet content.

¾ Factually dissect two pitch-decks and compare against the Sequoia template (see lecture Module 2B).

¾ Compare and contrast each deck. What is different, why? Did the new focus work? Why/Why not?

¾ Reflect – Would you have invested? How can you use the learnings in your assignments and resume?


  1. Review the resources so you can be more time efficient

This is a third year course that requires a background of business analysis, presentation design and some business/work experience. To help out-of-sync students with this and to ensure that in-sync students are more efficient their time, a variety of checklists, presentations and other helpful material are available in Learn. A detailed list is available in the A1 Checklist. Please investigate and use them.

  1. Review the A1 Checklist in Learn/Content/Assignment/A1

It has the specific workflow and thoughts used by many SCBUS students. It can help you be more efficient.

  1. Special vocabulary

A number of words in this assignment that have specialized meanings in the business world. They are listed

in the Assignment Checklist for you to follow up. A moment defining them will make a huge difference.

  1. Pick Two Companies

Review the list of companies in Table 1 below and the tips in the A1 Checklist. Make your two choices. There

is no deadline and you do not need to inform anyone of your choices.


If the link does not work, first try pasting it in another browser. If that does not work, google using the following key words: the company name and/or other words in the links below. If you find a page that looks right, scroll down. If you still cannot find it, contact the professor.



Include hardware
Mint fintech-personal
MapMe download maps


Table 1. List of companies for A1. Pick two.


  1. General approach/scenario

Your Point of View (POV) for this assignment is that you are a beginning investor with $15 million to possibly invest in one of the two companies you have selected. You want to make a rational decision so are evaluating all the facts first and assessing things thoroughly.

First step: understand their financials and their product. Then compare and contrast their pitch

decks to the Sequoia industry standard. If they made changes, why did they do that? Does it help?


  1. Then, look at their needs (their ask), their team and the traction they have Is it all about them or did they give any consideration to what YOU, the investor might need?
  1. Finally, since first impressions always count, evaluate the design, flow and execution of the PowerPoint.
  1. Make three recommendations for how each company might improve their pitch deck, and then reflect on whether you would invest with them.
  1. Understand their financials: Dimension each company and define the CLC stage

Dimension ( or document) each company using a table. You will have 2 tables in total – one for each company. The companies cannot be combined into one table. A suggested tool some of you are familiar with is the Company Fact Sheet Autofill Document (in the Learn Assignment Folder). It can help you organize your information as you do the research. If you hand it in, put it in the Appendix.

¾ Include the following mandatory parameters as rows in each of your two dimensioning tables:

¾ company name,

¾ product (short: ten words or less),

¾ founding date,

¾ number of employees now,

¾ estimate of current revenues,

¾ corporate life cycle (CLC) stage now,

¾ public/private status now,

¾ public/private status when the pitch-deck was created,

¾ year and CLC stage when pitch deck was created,

¾ funding stage when pitch deck was created,

¾ is the founder still in the company?

¾ who provides leadership?


Plot the companies on a Corporate Life Cycle (CLC) diagram: Plot both companies on one CLC diagram. Place the CLC diagram below the Dimensioning Tables. If the companies have changed position or stage over time, show this. Use the styling and terminology of Azises (2015). Information about this and a general review of these concepts is in the Tip Sheets and General Resources/ CLC diagram section in Get Ready.

Referencing: To reference the information you have in the Dimensioning Tables, footnote the information in the table and have that number refer to a citation immediately below the table. Provide the full reference for the citation in the reference list in the back of your report.


Why dimension a company? Dimensioning is a way to summarize the key information on a company. Knowing where to locate financial information on a company and assess that information quickly and use it in a consistent framework is a skill business savvy people use repeatedly in corporate and personal settings.

  1. Understand the product: Profile the main product

Describe the product of each company in table format. These tables must have the bullets below as the first column and your content as the second column. Use a separate table for each company. Bullets and “short answer format” are acceptable. For TM, CA, VP and NS questions, your answer MUST be in one sentence.

You have to look and think beyond the company’s pitch deck for this section. The answers are not in the pitch deck, ready for you to pluck them out.

  • Describe the main product (in about 10 words).
  • Business model? (i.e. B2B? B2C? B2B2C? B2Gov? B2Medical? B2Something else?)
  • Who is the target market? One sentence max.
  • Who is in the buying circle?
  • Is there likely to be a corporate buyer for this product?
  • What is the competitive advantage (the ONE difference that makes a difference in one sentence)?
  • What is the value proposition (benefit) for the target market? One sentence max.
  • Is the value proposition new or emerging?
  • Create a Needs Statement for the product.
  1. For each company, compare the structure of the pitch-deck to Sequoia industry standard deck

PART A. What changes were made?

Using a simple diagram or table (created as a Venn diagram or in EXCEL or PowerPoint), show the differences and similarities between the chosen pitch decks and the Sequoia industry standard. If the order or content of the slides was changed, document the following mandatory points:

  • Was the order changed? How?
  • Was something left out? Was something added? What?
  • Was a certain section expanded? Or shortened?

Think about “why” as you do this but realize that “why” is coming up in the next section. Keep notes for yourself to help prepare your answers for the next section.


PART B. Why were the changes made?

In one paragraph, explain why you think each change that you noted in Part A was made. If there were many changes, focus on the main 3. In your opinion, were the changes needed? Were the changes successful? Please introduce your personal content with a phrase like “in my opinion”.

¾ Compare each company to only Sequoia. Do not compare the companies to each other.

¾ Sometimes the right answer is “no”. Not everything is needed and not everything is successful.

¾ Your comments here could lead to one or several recommendations or reflections at the end of

this assignment.

  1. For each company, dissect and compare the content of each pitch deck

Use the criteria below to think critically about the pitch decks. If you think other criteria or parameters are relevant, you can include them in the Miscellaneous Section. As you formulate your own opinions, remember that investors typically decide in four minutes.

FORMAT: When you write up your answers, write up one company from Ask, Team, Traction, Investor’s Needs, and Miscellaneous to Presentation and then do the other from Ask …. to Presentation. This will allow good thought flow and minimize duplicate content.

PART A Company Needs (The “Ask”)

Investors decide whether to further investigate a potential investment after reading the pitch deck. This means that the company does not present it in person. Yet, companies are coached not to put a financial “deal” in the deck. So, it is a balance – did the company clearly express and easily define their needs/ask?

Evaluate what is the company is asking for – why did they do this pitch deck? Thought points for your

content include:

  • About how much money is the company looking for? (i.e. this is indicative of their funding stage)
  • Does the company need/want anything from the investor besides money? What and why?
  • Are there any gaps in the team’s skill set or needs for future work that don’t seem to be supported by the skillsets already in the company?
  • Do they appear to have the reputational, networking and contacts that they might need in the future?
  • Do they seem to be “business savvy”? Are they in-tune with the process, industry, market?
  • What is your opinion of their Ask (indicate by “In my opinion” or a similar phrase)? Max 4 sentences.

PART B. Team

Evaluate how the company portrays their team. Thought points for your content include:

  • Team size portrayed appropriately? Do they seem to be cohesive? Why?
  • Is their experience related to the company/industry
  • How is their experience portrayed? Any skill sets missing?
  • Do you have confidence in the team’s ability to grow the business? Why? Max 4 sentences.

PART C. Traction

Make sure that you understand what “traction” means in this context (i.e. using this codebook). Thought points for your content include:

  • What metrics did the company use to show “traction”?
  • Given the stage the company is at, what other traction measures might they have used?
  • Did the company convince you that they have good traction?

PART D. Investor Needs

Investors have choices – 2500 choices/year – so the company has to make sure that they offer something an investor needs. How does the company acknowledge or provide for the goals, requirements or needs of the investor? After all, they want to attract the right investors as well. Thought points for your content include:

  • What is the company offering? Financial? Ethical? Technology? Market position?
  • Is there liquidity? An exit strategy? Why or why not?
  • Do they offer different “things” in the short term? In the long term?
  • What do you think of how the company addressed investor needs? Maximum 4 sentences

PART E. Miscellaneous

Your spot to shine with things I did not include above. This section is not mandatory but strong content

here will result in a bonus mark.

PART F. Presentation “First Impressions”

Much like resumes, the Investor’s (employer’s) first decision to follow-up (or not) will be made on the basis of a quick skim-read of the pitch-deck. The company (the job seeker) MIGHT have a chance to present it later, IF they make it out of the investor’s “maybe pile” into the “let’s investigate” pile.

So, critique the presentation (not the content). Put yourself in the place of the investor reading it on a phone in about 4 minutes and then making decisions. Thought points for your content include:


Is there a Table of Contents?

  • Were headers used? Did the headers help draw you through the pitch? Could you go back and forth and find slides easily?
  • Is it death by bullet point? Is there too much text? Is the text large enough?
  • Were high resolution colors used for text and graphics? The background?
  • If screen shots were used, were they easy to read?
  • Were graphs and diagram labels and axes titles readable?
  • Was the presentation concise and focused? I.e. was it fast and easy to find and understand the main Info and request?

Flow and design

  • Was the template clear and uncluttered?
  • Did the flow of the content draw you along from slide to slide or were there gaps in the logic?
  • Were there graphics? Were they spaced out on the slide? Could you read them?
  • Did they add to the delivery of the message? How/why?
  • Were caps, bold, underline or italics overused so you could not tell what was important?

Save your recommendations for changes for the next section.

  1. Recommendations

Based on your understanding (developed above) of each company and their product, make THREE recommendations for each company on how they might improve or add to their pitch deck for the next series of financing.

  • recommendations are required for each company.
  • One recommendation should collect all/any points on presentation style, the other two must deal with content. Alternatively, all three can deal with content.
  • “Hire a pitch-deck consultant” is not acceptable recommendation.

Styling: Present each recommendation in the styling shown in italics below.

Based on the information presented above, my recommendations to improve “the Company’s” pitch-deck

are as follows:

  • blah blah. (replace “blah blah” with one or two concise sentences)
  • blah blah.
  • blah blah.
  1. Personal Reflection

Answer the following questions.

PART A. Which company (or neither) would you invest in? Why or why not? Explain in one page.

PART B. Document TWO personal learning points (e.g. points of comparison, points of synthesis, points of integration, a ha moments, things you suddenly saw) that arose for you as you completed this assignment. For each personal learning point, explain:

  • What was done effectively?
  • What would be useful to mimic in your later assignments and why?
  • How might you improve your resume on the basis of what you learned in this assignment?

Assume you are the company/product and the investor is the employer.

  1. Prepare and sign a Declaration of Individual Academic Integrity

This is found in LEARN/Content/Assignments/Declarations. A signed version is required.

  1. Submit your A1 report and your Declaration

See Submission section for more details. Deliverables

  • Cover sheet with details as per the Format section.
  • Declaration of Individual Academic Integrity
  • A1 report

Academic Integrity

General Comments

¾ Reference the work and ideas that you take from others. This includes any textbooks and internet content.

¾ Use APA format. There is on-line support for this at (

or within Waterloo support ( ).

¾ Signal your own ideas are coming with a phrase like “in my experience”.

¾ All documents will be scanned by Turnitin.

¾ See Get Ready for more info on university Academic Integrity policies and protocols. Avoid being caught in a

Policy 71 integrity violation – penalties are very high.

Your Personal Opinions

¾ Your personal opinions are valued in this course, so please show that you have really thought about the company, the deck and its purpose. Make obvious linkages between your thoughts and the company, the pitch and the potential investors.

¾ CLEARLY signal your thoughts with phrasing like “in my opinion”, “at my previous job”, “my experience has been…” “through the use of these perspectives, I realized…” or similar wording to clearly indicate your ownership of your contribution as opposed to the thoughts of others.

Declaration of Individual Academic Integrity

This must be completed for this assignment. The template is found in Learn/Content/Assignments /Declaration

Documents. When completed, submit this into the A1 dropbox.


¾ Cover sheet to have:

¾ Assignment #, Assignment name, Course number

¾ Names of the Two Companies you analysed

¾ Your written signature

¾ Your typed name as it is in Quest

¾ Your student number

¾ Submission date (the time/date stamp on the file in the LEARN dropbox will be considered the final

decision if there is a discrepancy)

¾ Have a Table of Contents. Introduction not needed.

¾ Dimensioning Tables are each maximum 1 page in size. They can be done in EXCEL or WORD, but must be handed in in PDF. The content in this table must be cited as footnotes below the table and the full references in APA format located in the Reference section.

¾ CLC Diagram is maximum 1 page in size. Place it so that the page does not need to be rotated to read it (i.e. place it on a portrait-style page). Use the styling of Adizes (2015). Use a different symbol for each company and have a legend.

¾ Product Profile Tables are maximum 1 page in size. They can be done in EXCEL or WORD, but will be handed in as PDF. The content in this table must be cited as footnotes below the table and the full references in APA format located in the Reference section.

¾ Assessment of the Content (Ask, Team, Traction, Investors Needs, Miscellaneous, Presentation). Do one

company from Ask to Presentation and then do the other company from Ask to Presentation.

¾ Reflections. See styling notes earlier in these instructions and separate Part A and each learning point in Part

B with a skipped line.

¾ References in APA format.

¾ Appendices containing supporting content are allowed as long as you refer to them by number in the main body of the assignment. Supporting content in the Appendices will not be marked. They are not counted in the page count.

¾ Follow the below detailed format information for the whole assignment

  • Maximum 16 pages, not including coversheet, table of contents, references and
  • Number each
  • 5*11 page size, font size 12 Times New Roman, 1 inch margins all round, all text left justified.
  • Do not reorder or combine questions or tables (0.5% will be removed if this is the case).
  • Table to be single spaced, body to be 5 spaced.
  • Start each table on a NEW
  • Present your answers for one company from Ask, Team, Traction, Investors Needs, Miscellaneous to

Presentation and then present the other company.

  • Do not ZIP the file that you
  • Format and references will be marked


¾ Use the Course Schedule to see when this assignment is due.

¾ Gather everything together into a Content Package. Coversheet, Table of Contents, then Dimension Tables, CLC Diagram, Product Profile Tables, Compare to Sequoia, Company A Assessment, Company B assessment, Recommendations, Reflections then References and Appendixes if you have them. Pdf the package. Submit the pdfed package. Do NOT zip it.

¾ Sign the Declaration of Individual Academic Integrity. Pdf or jpg it and submit it into the same dropbox as the

content package.

¾ For remote terms: Submit above documents into the relevant LEARN drop-box before 11:30 PM. These

files, with date and time stamp, are the final copy.

Grading, Value and Due Dates

How Your A1 Assignment Will Be Graded

The A1 Assignment will be marked as below and your total converted to a percent, based on the value of this

course element in the Course Marking Scheme shown in LEARN.

¾ Format, Cover Page, Table of Contents and References will be marked but are not in the page count.

¾ Better scores will go to students that integrate internet research and their own observations.

¾ If the CLC Diagram or Stage is not clearly indicated using the structure of Adizes (2015), the mark for the

content level for item “CLC Stage” will be lowered.

WORD TO THE WISE: Work the Rubric. Points are assigned to different parts of the rubric. To maximize your mark, make sure to give each section of the rubric the right amount of attention so you get points from all parts. If you are unsure about how to do this, review Work the Rubric in the Assignment Folder and Get Ready/Rubric.


The components of this assignment have the value given in the SCBUS 323 Marking Scheme found in Learn.

Due Dates

See the Course Schedule in Learn for details


WORD TO THE WISE : Submission time for A1 is 11:30 PM. Consider submitting large files before 11PM to avoid

Learn’s high traffic witching hour from 11:30-12:00 midnight.



Adizes, I.K., 2015 Managing Corporate Lifecycles, Vol 2. Analysis In Organizational Behavior and Raising Healthy

Organizations. 260 p. Published by Adizes Institute

Appendix 1. Background Information on Pitch Decks



Background info, worked examples, interesting stuff.

Like resumes, there is not a perfect formula for a pitch-deck… there is lots of good information available on line

and of course various organizations will have different likes and dislikes. Some useful links to check out: (examples with comments) (annotated presentations to help you

critique the two you have chosen)

deck/#522e6a39ddfd talks about the three most important slides (cover slide, team and financials slides) dissection of one of the best

Front Series An   helped those raised

$10 million.

Front Series B went on a five-day fundraising sprint to raise a series B round. She pitched 11 investors, received 10 term sheets (or investment offers), and walked away with $66 million from Sequoia Capital and several others. See how here…

Words from the CEO on how she did it.



Appendix 2. Business Context, Business Overview or Business


People often ask how to get a “Business Context” or “How to Do a Business Overview” for a company. This means researching and relating business parameters of a company to its operations or strategic directions. This might be for the company itself, or include similar companies that are also dealing with the situation in question. It is hard to be really specific because this is the real world – not every company and every situation is the same. It’s not a cookie cutter out there.

  1. Check out information on financial research in Learn/Content/Get Ready/Financial Research and Dimensioning. When you clearly have a company to work on
  2. Dimension the company using information from financial websites (see Tip Sheets in Get Ready/Financial Analysis). Watch for the financial metrics you need for the Dimension Table and the questions in the main body of the assignment.
  3. Read the company’s website for THEIR view on the financial aspect of their business (i.e. costs, profitability, growth, corporate value changes). This is in the Annual Reports, Quarterly Reports and their press releases. Watch for bias. Watch for information that helps define the Corporate Life Cycle and financial metrics.
  4. Research (google) for OTHER PEOPLE’s (third party) views on the company’s business context. The financial websites typically have links to this type of material. Watch for bias and info for the Corporate Life Cycle.
  5. How do their key financials hang together? – Are they making money (revenue or sales going up)?- What are their main costs and are they able to control them? – Are they getting more profitable (margin go up)? – Do they have losses (revenues and margin go down)? – Is their company value going up (share price go up)
  6. Who owns the shares? Are the insiders buying, holding or selling?
  7. Consider the industry, the competitors and the macroeconomic environment. Is the company doing better or worse than expected? “Experts” often analyse this – trying googling for such articles.
  8. Check into comparison cases using a competitor or others in that same industry. Create questions to google that will help you find other companies like yours and see how they are operating. There might be common problems or issues.
  9. Is your company a market leader? Or a market lagger? Compare and contrast these – try to use them to help explain your company’s performance.
  10. Discuss this body of data and use it to explain to yourself the performance of their business metrics.

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