July 19, 2024
Sample Seed pitch deck: Terra One's $7.5m deck| TechCrunch

Terra One aims to reduce the quantity of clean energy created significantly and then lost from the German grid owing to a lack of storage capacity. Lacking storage capacity is an entirely pressing need and one desperate for solutions, so it’s great to see companies thinking up ways to fix it and going after the funding to make it happen.

Fresh from its April fundraiser, where it raised $7.5 million to scale its battery storage system, Germany-based Terra One has shared its pitch deck with TechCrunch for a teardown. Let’s get in there and see how it won over its investors!

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Slides in this deck

Terra One’s 13-slide deck is short, but it could, in theory, include everything a pitch deck needs. The company includes a buffet menu of insights, designed to tell its story and sweep investors off their feet. Some slides failed to live up to their billing, leaving me scratching my head and asking, “Really? That’s it?”

After Terra One opened with a bang on its problem, solution and product slides, I was ready to give it a standing ovation, confetti and ticker tape parades on standby. But then came the disappointing slides, dashing my hopes like a dropped ice cream cone on a global-warming-fueled summer’s day.

So grab your popcorn and prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions as I walk you through this presentation. You’ll see why I went from enthusiastic cheerleader to cautious critic in the span of 13 slides.

The company says it submitted the whole deck, bar “a couple of pages of financial modeling, which remains under NDA,” so some of my feedback may have been covered by those slides. As always, take that with a pinch of salt!

Here’s a table of contents for the company’s deck:

  1. Cover slide
  2. Problem 1
  3. Problem 2
  4. Problem 3
  5. Solution
  6. Requirement
  7. Product
  8. Business model
  9. How it works 1
  10. How it works 2
  11. How it works 3
  12. Team
  13. Closing slide

Three things to love about Terra One’s pitch deck

Terra One’s deck had some glaring misses and slides that desperately needed work; we’ll get to that later. But some hit the nail on the head, so let’s start there:

Yeah, that seems like a problem …

[Slide 3] Way to graphically and intuitively bring the problem to life! Image Credits: Terra One

Alright, let’s talk about slide 3 of Terra One’s pitch deck. This problem statement is like a punch in the face, but, you know, in a good way. It hits hard, fast, and leaves you wondering what just happened. What I love is that the company doesn’t pull its punches; the slide throws some impressive numbers right at you, making it crystal clear that this problem is not just a minor inconvenience. It’s a five-alarm fire.

Now, I usually roll my eyes at the thought of multiple problem slides: If you need more than one slide to explain “we’ve got a problem,” it’s usually a symptom of narrative confusion. But in this case, Terra One does something magical here. The two slides following this one aren’t fluff; they actually add some serious weight to the initial problem statement. These slides don’t just tell you that the house is on fire; they show you the arsonist, the gas can, and why it’s not going to rain anytime soon.

The additional slides do something even more crucial: explain why this problem isn’t going to solve itself. This isn’t just a problem, it’s a beast that’s getting hungrier. This is the part where you realize there’s some serious growth potential here. Solving this issue isn’t just a noble endeavor; it’s a ticket to the big leagues.

I wish the company had made do with just the one slide, but somehow, Terra One’s problem slides are an elegant presentation of the problem. It’s sharp, it’s clear, and it’s backed by solid numbers. Well done.

A solid, strategic take on the solution

[Slide 5] A little on the vague side, but it’s bold, strategic and outlines the solution well. Image Credits: Terra One

Terra One’s solution slide is a refreshing take on how to do it right. It’s strategic, which is a nice change from the usual deep product dives that make everyone’s eyes glaze over. Startups, take note: Investors don’t care about your product as much as you think they do. They want to see the big picture, and this slide nails that.

OK, so I love the slide, but I do have some thoughts for how to make the whole story flow better.

First off, the “proven technology” bit is great, but it really belongs on a moat/dependability slide. If you’ve got patents or any other IP, flaunt them there. It’s like saying, “Look at us, we’ve got a fortress and a moat full of crocodiles. Good luck to the competition!”

Then there’s the “profitable without subsidies?” line. If you’re hinting at revenue, that’s a huge deal and deserves its own traction slide. Remember: Investors love traction.

And what about those “lower costs”? That’s a solid value proposition right there, but it feels like it’s hiding in the shadows. Give it the spotlight it deserves on a dedicated value proposition slide. Tell us more about how you achieve those lower costs and why it matters to your customers.

On the one hand, I can see how the Terra One’s Solution slide could be a good outline to talk about how the company approaches this, but it it also serves as a reminder of what’s missing.

Nailing the product

[Slide 7] A hell of a stab at a product slide: This works so well! Image Credits: Terra One

Alright, let’s talk about the product slide. First off, hats off to Terra One for not falling into the usual trap of drowning us in technical mumbo jumbo. This slide actually explains what Terra One does without making me want to gouge my eyes out.

But here’s where it gets interesting — or rather, where it doesn’t. This slide includes what Terra One does and then leaves us hanging. It’s like getting all hyped up for a blockbuster movie, only for it to end right when it’s getting good. We need more! Who’s using this thing? How is it making money? And where’s the grand plan to take over the world? I want to know who’s out there using your product. Throw in some target customers or user personas. Show me the people who are so in love with your product they’d tattoo it on their foreheads.

Investors may wonder: Where do we go from here? What’s the master plan for developing this product? Where’s the roadmap? Give us a sneak peek into the future. Tell us about the upcoming features, improvements, and the big, bold plans that are going to make this product the next big thing.

The product slide does a good job of explaining what the product is, but it’s steak without the sizzle. To really wow an audience, we need a little bit more meat on this particular bone.

Three things that Terra One could have improved

Alright, Terra One, let’s get real: This pitch deck has more holes than Swiss cheese (ironic, really, for a German startup), and it’s time to plug them up. I’ve already harped on the need for more slides based on your Solution slide, but let’s recap and expand:

  1. Moat slide: How is Terra One going to stop other companies from coming in and eating its lunch? Think of this slide as your castle’s defenses. Investors want to know you’ve got a moat filled with crocodiles, not just a picket fence.
  2. Traction slide: Investors want to see that you’ve turned your bright idea into a functional company. Do you have customers who are actually paying, or is it just your mom downloading the app? Show us the numbers, the users, the buzz!
  3. Value proposition slide: What’s in it for Terra One’s users? We need more than just vague promises. Lay out the precise benefits. Make it clear why people should flock to your product like it’s the last concert before the apocalypse.

But wait, there’s more! Here’s a laundry list of other crucial information that’s not in this deck (and should be):

  1. Competition: Who’s already out there trying to do what you’re doing, and how are you going to crush them? Investors want to see you’ve scoped out the battlefield and know where the landmines are.
  2. Target customers: Who exactly is going to be using this product? Paint a picture. Is it tech-savvy teens, disgruntled office workers, or retired alpaca farmers? We need to know!
  3. Marketing strategy: Once you’ve painted a picture of who the audience is, how are you going to reach these customers? You can’t just sit around and hope they stumble upon your product. Show us the grand marketing plan.
  4. Revenue model: How does Terra One plan to make money? Investors are allergic to uncertainty. Lay it out clearly — subscriptions, ads, selling artisanal soap on the side — whatever it is, make it explicit.
  5. Funding ask and use of funds: How much cash are you looking to raise, and what are you going to do with it? This isn’t just about getting a new foosball table for the office. Break down the budget like you’re trying to convince a stingy parent to double your allowance.

Now, about the slides that did make it into the deck; they need some love, too. They’re like a good band playing without a soundcheck: promising, but not quite hitting the mark. Each slide needs to be polished, expanded, and presented in a way that screams “invest in us or regret it forever.”

So, Terra One, let’s see you take this feedback and turn that Swiss cheese into a solid block of Allgäuer Bergkäse. Here are some pointers:

So you say business model, but …

[Slide 8] Here, Terra One does a huge innovation in business model slides: It didn’t include a business model. Image Credits: Terra One

Alright, Terra One, it’s time for a chat about Slide 8, the business model slide. Right now, it’s missing more pieces than a toddler’s jigsaw puzzle. Here’s what needs to be fixed:

Business operations: The slide does not clearly define how Terra One operates as a business. Investors need a crystal-clear explanation of how the company interacts with customers and makes money. Currently, it feels like solving a mystery. It should lay out simply: How does Terra One find customers, and what is the sales process?

Pricing information: The slide lacks pricing information. Is Terra One charging customers premium prices, or is it the budget-friendly option? Investors need to understand the pricing strategy to gauge market positioning. Without this, it’s like trying to guess the price of a meal at a restaurant without a menu. Spoiler alert: No one likes that.

Unit economics: The slide is screaming for some unit economics. How do costs change as the company hits scale? Investors want to see how costs evolve as the company expands and handles more energy. Will it become more efficient and profitable, or are there hidden costs lurking? Terra One should break down the costs per unit and explain how those costs decrease (or increase) with scale. This will show whether the company is sitting on a gold mine or a money pit.

Adding this information will transform the business model slide from a head-scratcher to a showstopper — and helps contextualize what you’re trying to do, to boot.

It’s the people! Well, pictures of the people, at least.

Woof. Well, let’s rip off the band-aid: Terra One’s team slide is a disaster. It’s like a textbook example of what not to do. Here’s the breakdown:

Names, titles and photos without context: Congratulations, they’ve got names, titles and photos. But without context, this tells us nothing. It’s like giving someone the ingredients list without the recipe. Who are these people, and why should anyone care?

The logos at the bottom of the page are a nice touch, but they raise more questions than they answer. Who worked at these companies? When did they work there, and what did they do? Just tossing in some logos without context is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Investors need specifics. Explain which team members were at these companies, what their roles were, and what relevant experience they gained. There’s a huge difference in how relevant the OpenAI experience is, for example, depending on which business unit the people were associated with.

Lack of skills and experience details: There are no clear examples of what skills each team member brings to the business. Investors want to see why this team is the A-team, not just a random collection of faces. Highlight the unique skills and experiences that make each member indispensable to Terra One and how this team becomes a sure-fire bet.

Honestly, I’d bin the whole slide and start over. Here’s what investors will be looking for:

Let’s leave ’em wanting more!

[Slide 13] This is a waste of a slide, unfortunately. Image Credits: Terra One

Every slide in the deck should improve Terra One’s chances of raising funding. It shouldn’t be neutral; heaven forbid should it be detrimental to your fundraising efforts. A photo alone is a wasted opportunity. Every slide needs to work hard, pushing the narrative and reinforcing why investors should get excited about Terra One. This slide fails to do that.

So, how can you get more out of your last impression? Well, the company could have put its contact details on there. And no, it’s not just a generic email address. It should be a named email address so investors know exactly who to reach out to. This is crucial for follow-up conversations.

A good closing slide needs a memorable closing statement; maybe a reminder of the company’s purpose, or paint a vision of the world you’re trying to build.

The full pitch deck

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